With everybody getting his or her yards ready for spring 2018, the one thing everybody wants in their yards is color. Color is one of the main elements that make your yard stand out. One of the most practical ways is through the use of roses. Roses are beautiful flowers that symbolize love and friendship. Imagine yourself entertaining your friends in a lovely alcove surrounded by colorful flowers. Roses are relatively easy to grow and are a great choice because they will often grow where other flowers won’t because of Florida’s intense summer sun.

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.

OK, you finally have your roses planted and they are bursting with color, now you need to do some periodic maintenance to maintain that beauty. 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.

With all the remedies that we have at our disposal for controlling rose problems, probably the best way is prevention. One way is to avoid watering late in the day so the leaves of the plant do not stay wet all night. Also it is important to have good soil drainage.

Roses are heavy feeders and like a good supply of food. Roses should be fed at least once a month. You can use a good quality commercial food or you can use your own mix, which should consist of 1 cup of bone meal, 1-cup cottonseed meal, one-half cup blood meal, one-half cup fishmeal and one-half cup Epsom salts. You can spread this mix around each plant and then water in.

With a little care and cooperating weather conditions, you can have a Spring garden that is the envy of the neighborhood. So wait no more, the cold weather is gone and the Florida Spring is here so get gardening!

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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