We are experiencing a welcome moderation of temperatures and our gardens are showing improvement too. However, cooler temperatures and more humid nights provide moisture to the vegetation which can create conditions for other problems, such as powdery mildew (a white fungi on leaves upper surface) and blackspot (dark splotches on leaves).
Roses benefit from a good rinsing to remove accumulated dust: be sure to keep moisture off the blossoms to prevent yet another fungal disease Botrytis, which will appear as rot of blossoms and will usually prevent them from opening.
If you completed the light mid-season pruning in September/October as suggested in an earlier article, you pruned out dead, crossing canes, and thinned the middle of the plant. This will improve air circulation through the bush and reduce possible fungal diseases. This mid-season pruning and fertilizing encourages a new blooming cycle.
Cutting some of the early blooms now (and taking inside for bouquets) can help ensure having blooms around Thanksgiving. If you stagger your bloom cutting, you might have some for your December holiday table. That might is the big unknown, the main factor being the temperature. The average first frost date in our area is about Nov. 17.
You may make a final application of fertilizer for the year before mid-November. If you do this, use a fertilizer lower in Nitrogen (N) and higher in Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K); that is, if your fertilizer has an N-P-K number on it, the first digit will be lower than the other two. If it lacks an N-P-K, read the ingredients and/or ask your professional nursery person for guidance. To explain, nitrogen encourages foliage growth-something we want to discourage as the plants go into their winter dormancy; Phosphate helps build root structure and resistance to stressful conditions (e.g., cold at this time of year); Potassium is a helper of phosphate and aids in bloom quality. If you use an organic fertilizer it will be readily available when the soil warms, adding to the nutrients needed for that spring growth spurt.
Don’t apply fertilizer after mid-November because it will only encourage tender growth that could be damaged by frost and will forestall your roses going into dormancy as the soil and general environment cool, daylight shortens, etc.
Some people think Southern California lacks distinct seasons, but we do have seasons. They are only discerned by those with a more sophisticated palette. So get out of the house and enjoy the subtle delights of the air, sun, and the rich aroma of our magically misty fall.
When you have a moment to spare, or feel the need to get away, or when the day cools down, take your favorite healthy beverage, a picnic basket, and visit Rose Haven Heritage Garden, 30592 Jedediah Smith Road, Temecula (cross street is Cabrillo Avenue). The early morning and late afternoon sunlight across the pass is magical this time of year – it even makes the freeway seem a little bit romantic! Other venues this time of year available for your interest check out http:pswdroses.org/calendat.html.
Oh, one last thing-something to do when it gets just a bit too nippy out there, start perusing rose catalogs (printed and online) for that next “gotta have” rose variety. Come on-you deserve it! You work hard to have lovely roses, so let yourself go. And we expect to see you enter that perfect bloom in the next rose show in April 2016. Also, this time of year many nurseries and garden stores are liquidating their remaining inventory of potted roses – and you’re in luck because November is an ideal time to purchase and plant.
Until next month, Happy Roses to you!
For more ideas, visit TVRS’ Rose Haven garden at 30592 Jedediah Smith Rd., Temecula, as well as our web site at TemeculaValleyRoseSociety.org/index.html.