To guarantee strong, healthy roses in the spring, care must be taken right now.
Do not fertilize any more this year, (the cutoff date for fertilizing is Aug. 15). During August and September, roses should be watered during droughts and sprayed for insects and disease, if needed. Once October arrives, watering should be withheld to induce dormancy.
The preferred time for pruning bush and tree roses is in early March just before new growth starts; however, excessively tall canes should be pruned in October to a height of 36 inches to prevent being whipped by strong winter winds.
In November roses should be sprayed with a fungicide first and then, after most of the foliage has dropped and been cleaned up, bushes should be covered with loose, well drained soil or compost.
Don't scrape up soil from between the plants or roots may be injured; bring it from another spot in the garden. This soil should be mounded up around the base of the canes to a height of 8 to 10 inches. Lay straw or hay over the soil mound and canes after the first hard freeze to protect the plant from fluctuating temperatures. Don't use leaves, grass clippings, manure or materials that would remain wet or rot around the canes and promote disease. Roses should be covered by Thanksgiving.
Carefully remove the covering in the spring after danger of severe freeze is over. Don't be too eager to remove it as the soft, tender shoots that develop beneath it are easily killed by a light freeze. Keep some straw or mulch material handy to cover plants in case of a late frost.
-- The Garden Calendar is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County office and written this week by Master Gardener Roy Latham. For more information call the Master Gardener Hotline, 843-7058, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.