Rose Care FUNdamentals for August 2014

Recent severe weather all over the world and especially in the Western U.S. indicates the unpredictability to be expected in the future. Globally June 2014 was the warmest June on record.

Locally it seemed insignificant while daily temperatures fluctuated from above and below ‘normal.’ The last days of July 2014 continue to bring us more unstable conditions and high temperatures predicted to continue into August.

Here in the Temecula Valley, we typically can expect these high temperatures to continue through September, sometimes into October. Gardeners will be forced to adjust their practices or be more disciplined in using current proven methods to minimize the influences in order to be able to roll with these changes.

Some local gardens had a nice show of blooms into July due to short, hot periods. I’ve had some reports of plant and blossom sunburn. This is the result of the plant being unable to hydrate at the same rate as its evaporation.

As I have been advocating for the past four years, after the June/July bloom cycle, let your roses, “do whatever they do.” That is, let the hips develop. Just remove the petals and discard them, and keep the bed clean of debris while keeping your rose bushes well-hydrated. Make sure you don’t fertilize.

Take a daily tour of your garden to look for any changes. It doesn’t take long for a rose to suffer if its irrigation supply fails. Examine the lower leaves. If they appear yellow or brown, have fine webbing and/or look dirty, there may be an infestation of spider mites. Mites thrive in hot weather.

They’re generally found on the undersides of those leaves. A strong spray of water from below followed by an overhead shower should take care of the problem or, at least, hold it in check. Give the shower early in the day so the plant has time to dry before the sun becomes hot. It may be necessary to repeat after a few days if the infestation is heavy.

Gardeners are always faced with risks. One recently came to my attention through a Dr. Gott. It’s a dangerous fungus with the scientific name Sporothrix schenckii. This fungus is the source of the fungus infection sporotrichosis. It is often referred to as the Rose Thorn ( or Rose Gardener’s) Disease.

The fungus resides on hay, sphagnum moss, the tips of rose thorns and in soil. It can cause infection, redness, swelling and open ulcers at the puncture site. The fungus can also spread to the lymphatic system and move on to the joints and bones where it ends up attacking the central nervous system and lungs when the thorn or thorns are deeply imbedded.

A relatively uncommon condition, diagnosis can be complicated. Physicians often mistake it as Staph or Strep infection. If you suspect this condition, be sure to inform your physician that you are a gardener so appropriate diagnosis and treatment are rendered.

We all enjoy the fragrance and beauty of roses, and have often had our skin pierced by thorns (“prickles” is the correct anatomical name). Good protective measures include wearing appropriate clothing (gloves, long sleeves, or gauntlets) when working among roses and thoroughly cleansing even minor scratches and punctures with an anti-bacterial soap.

Rubbing alcohol—which you should already have handy to clean your pruners—can be applied as an immediate wash until you can use anti-bacterial soap.

Anything more than a minor puncture should be watched carefully for signs of infection; seek medical attention as soon as possible if you show any of the signs described above. Even the simple things in life have risks—take precautions so you can stop and smell the roses.

And when you’ve got a moment to spare, go visit Rose Haven, located at 30592 Jedediah Smith Road (the cross street is Cabrillo Avenue) in Temecula. Also, visit our web site, You might also want to visit and search on Temecula Valley Rose Society to find events of interest to you. (Be sure to specify a wide enough “within” for distance from you).

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