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Rose Tips


At a recent Rose Society Meeting the subject under discussion was
“If I knew then what I know now”. The meeting split into small groups and the following ideas & tips were the result of their discussions.

Match the rose to the location, some roses like to lean, others need a wall, sun, wind, and other governing factors.

Don’t plant too close to the house.  Plants should be at least 2 feet away for tenting or painting of house; also remember if you plant on the north or south side of a house the plants will spend six months out of the sun.

Roses can be successful transplanted if they are ‘lifted’ carefully by digging a big amount dirt around the roses and transplanting the rose and all the accompanying soil to the new location, and then of course, water, water, water.

Come to the Bermuda Rose Society to learn about roses.

If you get a prickle in your finger, VICK will draw it out.

Put newspaper to line the hole where you are going to plant a new rose.  It will help hold moisture.

Bananas, rabbit food, Epson salts—who knew they were what roses liked!!

I should have read the Guidelines for Exhibitors before putting a spray of roses in my bouquet of garden roses.

Plant large roses 6 – 8 feet apart.

Plant small roses like Bermuda Windchimes, in a sunny space, rather than in between large roses like Papa Gontier, as the large roses overshadow the small ones.

Be selective in choice of under-planting as large/tall companion plants take over the roses.

Use copper sulphate or organic fungicide on slips before planting them, even some of the more difficult roses to slip like Rosette Delizy respond to this treatment.

Tie the long stems of Noisettes, like Champney’s Pink Cluster, back to the main stem in a circle so that lots of shoots and flowers grow from it rather than pruning them.

Do not prune Papa Gontier severely as very heavy pruning causes it to die.

Stems of Souvenir de la Malmaison may be layered into pots that are then planted in the ground, once established, cut from the main plant, rather than trying the grow from slips.

Make sure Francois Juranville had its own climbing frame as it grows rapidly, when pruned well it flowers all over in the spring.

Plant Portuguese Rambler in a sunny location, not in a shady place against a wall, this roots more easily by layering but beware of the prickles!

When I moved to Bermuda I had no idea that the soil of Bermuda could be infertile. It was all so green.
When we decided to make a rose garden at the foot of our hillside we used the soil we excavated from our lily pond to level to terraces. The soil was very heavy clay. The newly planted roses had a very hard time. Not only was this soil not very fertile, it also was also difficult to penetrate. Seeing the roses did not take off as I expected we applied a generous amount of horse manure; another mistake. Now the roses were fed but also the weeds were flourishing.
The last few years I compost every second year with a thick layer. This not only feeds the roses and keeps the roots moist but has also made the soil lighter.
If only I had started out well I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.

We could manage our gardens without the use of strong chemicals and use harmless household substances such as soap spray, vegetable oil, vinegar, tea, borcic acid, sulphur and various companion plants; we would never have used harsh chemicals.  Waterville has survived as an experiment for six years and has never looked better.


How to plant a rose bush and care for it.
Roses prefer a spot in the garden which gets at least four to six hours of sunlight, although some varieties do very well with less (like “St. David’s”). Most gardens in Bermuda do not have a great depth of soil, in which case it may be advisable to build a raised bed, even just a small one to hold two or three rose bushes. These can be built of bricks or rocks, either loose or cemented together. By using cement you will be creating a container which will hold the soil and moisture. Of course you can just dig a hole in the ground.
Have on hand a bag of Black Cow, some Bone Meal, a bag of Rabbit Food (this is alfalfa, excellent source of Nitrogen), granular Rose Fertilizer with a low middle number (it stands for Phosphorus which is not water soluble and will therefore build up in the soil, causing it to change in the long term) and Epsom Salts (this is Magnesium Sulphate). These soil additives are important as they will improve our Bermuda soil, which is very alkaline. Roses prefer a slightly more acid soil. Of course we know that a lot of the old roses will grow almost anywhere and in almost any kind of soil, some even where they are very exposed to wind and even salt spray. They will, however, perform much better if the soil has been amended.
Dig up the soil for the rose bed to two feet deep (or as deep as is possible in your location) and break up the clumps. Adding some peat moss and well-rotted manure if you can get it, and mixing it in with water, will improve the general condition of the soil.
Dig a hole bigger than the pot the rose is in and put some of the loosened soil back in the hole. Add about 3 cups of Black Cow, and a couple of handfuls of Bone Meal. Mix together with water and make a little mound in the bottom of the hole over which you will spread the rose roots. Make sure the top of the mound is a little higher than the depth of the pot. Plants should be planted no deeper than the depth of soil they were in.
Water the rose in the pot well and then tip it out, holding the rose stem between your fore and middle fingers. Carefully loosen the lowest roots, spreading them out a little and then place the root ball on the mound of soil in the hole so the roots go down the sides.
Replace the loosened soil which was removed to about half-way, and water in. Sprinkle a cup of Rabbit Food all around. Alfalfa heats up when it breaks down and could damage the delicate new roots, so it is not a good idea to put it in the bottom of the hole. Continue pulling back all the soil and tamp down lightly with your foot.
Finish by sprinkling on top of the soil, but several inches away from the stem, about 2 tablespoons each of Rose fertilizer and Epsom Salts. Water gently, but thoroughly.
Some of the following additives may also be used: Rose Garden Soil in the bottom of the hole, and 2 tablespoons of Dried Blood and 1 tablespoon of Nitrate of Soda sprinkled on top, before watering.
A newly-planted rose bush should be watered every day for a week after planting and thereafter once or twice a week, unless it rains. It is a good idea to remove any flower buds that appear while the bush is still small, so the plant can put its energy into growing, instead of producing blooms. Of course it is always a temptation to allow the flower to come out, so you can admire it!
There is no need to prune for at least 2 years be. As a rule it is advisable to avoid pruning during the hot summer. Pruning encourages a plant to put on new growth, and to flower and set seed. It is better to encourage a plant to remain dormant when it is hot and dry. Only nip off the spent flowers (“dead-heading”) and water.
Fertilizer can be applied about every 2-3 months, but no later than the end of June, as it puts too much
stress on the bush if encouraged to grow during the hot summer months. Start applying again in October.
Water, water, water!! If you cannot give your roses anything else, water them. It is far better to water thoroughly once or twice a week, rather than lightly every day, as this encourages the roots to come to the surface where they dry out more quickly without carrying water to the rest of the plant. Remember also that plants can only take up nutrients through water. Dry fertilizer cannot be utilized by plants and will just sit there. When you plan to fertilize and there has not been any significant amount of rain, be sure to water thoroughly before and again after applying the fertilizer.
Roses benefit from having mulch put over the root zone, not touching the stem, as that may cause mould to form. Mulch helps to keep the soil cool and moist, inhibits the growth of weeds and in time adds organic matter to the soil, keeping it healthy. If a mulch of wood or bark is used, you should apply extra Nitrogen (like Nitrate of Soda), sprinkled around the roses and watered in. During the decomposition of wood, a lot of Nitrogen is used and it should be replaced.
Happy Rose Growing !
Anyone interested in finding out more about the activities of the Bermuda Rose Society, is invited to write to the Secretary, The Bermuda Rose Society, P.O.Box PG 162, Paget PGBX, giving name, mailing address and telephone number.
Contributed by Mrs. Liesbeth Cooper,
Past President
Member of Anniversary Committee
The Bermuda Rose Society


The following two articles were submitted by some of our very keen rose slippers as you can see they do differ, give it a try that’s all you can do.


Rose Propagation
Betsey Mowbray

1.    Careful selection of slips is the most important thing as far as I am concerned.
I take slips from healthy, mature plants – from a branch which has recently had a bloom. I try to avoid using slips where new growth has already appeared. Slips the thickness of ½ cm seem to take well for me but depending on the variety thinner slips may have to be taken.

2.    Preparation of the slip.  I always try to leave two sets of leaves at the top and  have at least 2, preferably 3 nodules to insert into the mixture. If I can’t plant them immediately they go into the fridge in a plastic bag with a bit of water.

3.    The mixture I use is half perlite, half promix, damp but not soggy. – and always  fresh.  I never reuse it.

4.     I use the 4” pdq pots, the deepest ones I can find (cleaned) filled to the top with the mixture. Once the slip is inserted (with a little rooting compound on the end),  I cover each pot with half of a square water bottle. This makes a great little individual green house and keeps the slip moist without the need to water all the time. If condensation disappears, just dribble a little water down the side of the bottle into the pot.

5.    Label and date each pot !!!

6.    The pots can be kept in the black plastic trays which hold 18 each which can be easily moved from place to place if necessary. In winter I keep them in a greenhouse which has a vine growing over much of the roof which provides some shade – when the greenhouse is too hot I move them outside to a partly shady spot.

7.    When there are definite signs that the slip has taken (new growth plus some resistance when you tug on it) I remove the bottle for a few weeks – at that point it will have to be watered regularly.

8.    When roots start appearing through the bottom of the pot I transplant into a gallon pot filled with a mix of half promix and half potting soil and sprinkle a little slow release fertilizer over the surface of the soil.

The “Coarse” method of slipping roses.
By Gerry Ardis of Old St David’s

I am honestly not certain what I can contribute to Growing Roses from Slips because as you know my technique (if you can call it that) is very basic and could even be described as “coarse” rose growing.  In many cases my methods are opposite to the recommendations of the “experts”.

As I may have mentioned, I apply the law of averages method: if I put in enough slips into a one gallon pot, some of them will grow. I find that sometimes only a few root, but on some occasions they all root and in a few cases none root at all.

Like most people I find some roses are easier to grow than others. For example I find most Climbers and Ramblers easy to grow while I find the Bourbons difficult, except by the layering method which can be a bit awkward and time consuming. I have grown a few Bridal roses (Souvenir de la Malmaison)( both bush and climber) from slips, but it is very rare that one survives.

All I can tell you is that I don’t use plastic bags at all and I try to take the slips, as far as possible, from where they join a main stem. If this is not possible I will slip anything if it has at least one leaf node to go below and three above soil level. I am not particularly concerned whether the slip is, or has been, blooming or not. I used to wound the slip close to the first leaf node but I don’t bother because I don’t think it makes any difference.

Over the years I have used ordinary soil, potting soil, a mixture of potting soil and compost, a mixture of potting soil and Perlite, and straight Perlite. My biggest success was with Anna Olivier some six or seven years ago when I rooted some eighty slips in plain soil from the garden without rooting hormone. I might add that until recently I haven’t been able to repeat this performance. I even found it difficult to root any Anna Olivier at all until I managed a partial success of a dozen or so plants in straight Perlite two months ago.

The only thing that I might be doing a little differently, is to place some Styrofoam in the base of the pot for drainage and I also try and keep the slips and newly transplanted rooted slips in a shady position until they become established. I think most slip failures are the result of fungal infection and either being too dry or too damp. At present I use straight perlite for rooting and potting soil with some perlite for transplanting into one gallon pots. Also a few days after slipping I might use a very light solution of liquid copper-based fungicide on the slips and newly rooted slips.

Once the newly transplanted slips become established with some nice shoots and leaves, then I give them a dart of liquid rose fertiliser and move them out into the sunlight.

This is about all I can think of, but if anything else comes to mind I will let you know.

Thanks Betsey & Gerry that’s a great effort