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Once the snow starts to
thaw and the wind feels warmer, you know that spring isn't far away.
Before the leaves start to sprout on your roses, there are a few
chores to do in your garden that will help ensure a garden full
Get Out the Tire Pump and Tool Sharpeners!
So, what do these have to do with spring cleaning? Well, obviously,
sharp tools and wheelbarrows with inflated tires will make your
spring cleaning jobs go alot smoother. This is one of those, "duh"
things, but I'm sure many of you (like me) have neglected this little
step at least once. So this is just a little reminder.
Get Out the Rake!
The best way to prevent leaf diseases in the garden is by cleaning
up last years' leaves from around your roses. The leaves may have
spores on them from any blackspot and powdery mildew that you may
have had the previous year. These spores overwinter just fine on
last years' leaves -- no matter how cold it gets. And, as soon as
the first spring rains come, they'll be ready to reinfect your roses
again. So, by removing those leaves, you greatly reduce the chance
of getting leaf diseases on your roses this year.
Get Out the Mulch!
An alternative to raking up all those leaves, which can be a real
pain when dodging thorny rose branches, is to just cover them up
with mulch! That's what we do. By placing a two or three-inch layer
of shredded bark or other mulch on top of last years' leaves, you
also cover up any disease spores. These spores move around in the
air, and if they're covered up, well, they can't get on your roses.
And nothing cleans up a garden better than a new layer of mulch.
It makes everything look brand new. You'd be surprised at how quickly
mulch breaks down anyway, so your garden may need a new layer of
mulch every spring. It's a spring chore with great results. To learn
more about the benefits of mulch, check out our Mulch
Get Out the Sprayer!
Early spring, while your roses are still dormant, is a great time
to knock down overwintering disease spores and insects. You can
easily do this by spraying your roses and the surrounding soil or
mulch with a fungicide or horticultural oil.
There are organic and nonorganic fungicides available that work
equally as well in killing off wintering over fungus spores. Copper,
sulphur or neem-based fungicides, along with horticultural oil,
are considered organic. These kill only the fungus spores and not
beneficial insects, like ladybugs. And, they don't harm you, your
kids or your pets. We don't use the lime/sulphur dormant oil mixtures
because it can often cause more damage than good to the roses. Ultrafine
oil by Sunspray is a great oil to spray on your roses in early spring.
Chemical or nonorganic fungicides do the job of killing off fungus
spores, but can also harm you if you don't wear a respirator, goggles
and protective clothing. Also, many fungus spores become resistant
to chemical fungicides -- especially those that work systemically.
If you choose to use these types of fungicides, be sure to alternate
between two different kinds to reduce the chance of building up
fungicide resistance in your garden.
Horticultural oils work by smothering the fungus or pest. Be careful
when using dormant oils because they are heavier and can cause damage
to sensitive new growth. Don't apply these oils to roses that have
swelling buds. It's better to use light oils that can be applied
during the growing season. Sunspray ultrafine horticultural oil
works great. You can usually find this at your local garden center.
When spraying your dormant roses, cover them completely with spray,
and also spray the mulch or soil around the base of the rose. Then
you'll be sure to knock down most of the overwintering spores and
protect the new growth on your roses this spring.
Get Out the Pruners!
Spring is the best time to prune your roses. It's alot easier
to see what you're pruning when there aren't any leaves blocking
your view. When the canes are bare, you can also see any damaged
or diseased canes that should be removed.
We usually wait until late March to get our pruning done here
in Zone 4. By then, most of the severe cold is gone. A pruning wound
is much more susceptible to freeze damage -- that's why we wait
until it has warmed up a bit.
So, what do you prune? Here's a quick list:
- Broken or damaged canes.
- Diseased canes.
- Really old canes that just don't produce many blossoms anymore.
- Canes that are crossing or rubbing against each other -- prune
out the smaller one(s).
- Wayward canes -- ones that just aren't growing where you want
Pruning is alot like riding a bike: you just have to do it to
learn how. Also, a bad pruning job is like a bad haircut -- it takes
about four weeks to fix it. Which means, the roses are forgiving
and will recover if you prune the wrong cane.
But pruning is really necessary for most roses. It stimulates
new growth and will make your roses more productive bloomers. To
learn more about pruning, go to our Pruning
And, One Last Thing!
While you're out doing spring chores, I'm sure many of you will
hear familiar songs of migrating birds returning for the summer.
If you have bird houses, don't forget to clean them out. This is
one little spring cleaning chore that your resident birds will greatly
Enjoy the spring!