Hi everybody.

Although it does not feel like it now, soon we will be enjoying the wonderful fall temperatures that Florida is famous for. If you're trying to decide on what you might want to plant, why not try some roses?

Roses are beautiful, flowering plants that represent love and friendship. Roses are a perfect addition to your friendly tea garden. These lovely plants are surprisingly easy to grow with some basic TLC.

Roses can be successfully planted in either containers or in the ground. In either case, the plants should be in well-drained soil in a sunny location. If you plant your treasures in the ground, be sure the soil drains well. Dig a hole about 15 – 18 inches wide and eighteen inches deep. Put a layer of gravel on the bottom of the hole. This is to allow drainage so water drains away from the root system. The same would apply if you plant your roses in a container. The next step is to prepare the soil you are going to use to plant your roses. You should use a mix of a good quality potting soil with around half the mixture composed of organic matter such as mulch or peat. You can also use some bone meal with your soil mixture. Now, it’s finally time to plant your prize. Carefully remove the plant from its original container. Place the plant in your prepared hole so the top of soil layer on the plant is the same level as the surrounding soil. Fill the gap underneath the plant with your prepared soil mixture. Now, fill the gaps around the remaining parts of the plant and pack down lightly. You are now ready to water in your newly planted rose.

Once you have your roses planted and bursting with color, you will need to do some basic maintenance steps in order to keep them lush and colorful. Since we live in such a humid climate, certain diseases such as black powdery mildew and black spot can both be a common problem. Both diseases are much easier to control if you prevent them happening in the first place. Once established, both are very difficult to get rid of. Although there are many products on the market that are used for disease control on roses, Orthenex reigns as the king. The product controls not only diseases but also controls insect infestation as well. If you are interested in an all-natural cure for fungus, how about baking soda. That’s right, baking soda. Plain ordinary baking soda added at the rate of 3 teaspoons per gallon of water. You then can add a small amount of mild dish detergent to the mix to act as a spreader sticker. This will work as a preventive measure but will not work well if an infection is present. Be sure not to make your mix too strong as damage to your roses could result.

Roses are heavy feeders and like a good supply of food. You should feed your roses once a month with a good quality commercial rose food. Always follow label directions carefully. Also please do not put your plants in the line of fire of your sprinkler systems as this keeps your leaves wet which can cause some of the fungus diseases described above.

That’s all for this weeks column and I hope you enjoyed it. I will see you again next week with more great garden tips and information.

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.

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