Coaxing Roses to Bloom
Popular plants require care and feeding
Roses are one of the most popular flowers in America, and now is the time to plan for installation as spring approaches. On the Emerald Coast, they will grow and bloom during the nine warmest months of the year.
A gardener’s success will depend on choosing the varieties which perform well in North Florida — and the amount of work he commits to his bushes.
Hybrid tea roses, grandiflora and floribunda types of roses require more fertilizing and watering, frequent grooming and applications of insecticides to control bugs that feast on these showy plants.
Many of the older cultivars require far less work to bring about their fragrant blooms.
Other considerations are flower color, the shape of the rose plant and the location in the landscape.
Blooms come in varying hues including pink, blue, white, purple and yellow. They may be complex and tightly constructed or consist of a few simple petals at the end of a thorny stem.
Six hours of sun daily is required for all roses. In residential lots, this can be a very limiting location factor.
If some shade cannot be avoided, be sure the plant gets morning light, which will dry dew from the previous night. Excessive moisture on the leaves encourages fungal growth.
Roses can be grown close to the coast if protected from salt spray. Organic soil amendments, like peat moss, will be necessary in sandy soils.
Benefits of pruning
A regular and consistent winter pruning schedule protects plants, people and property from injury, pests and damage. It is an important part of a long-term landscape maintenance strategy.
Pruning removes dead and dying branches and stubs, allowing room for new growth and protecting property and passersby from damage. It also deters pest and animal infestation and promotes the plant’s natural shape and healthy growth.
Correct pruning of trees and shrubs encourages healthy fruit and flower production.
Additionally, systematic pruning minimizes the potential for storm damage to structures from broken branches and protects people from falling branches.
A general rule holds that summer and fall flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned in late winter to early spring. Spring flowering trees and shrubs are best pruned soon after their flowers fade.
If flowering shrubs are pruned to promote rejuvenation, the best time to prune is late winter or early spring. Pruning flowering shrubs at this time will reduce or eliminate blossoming in the spring of that year, but the trade-off is in gaining healthier, more vigorous flowering shrubs in the long run.
Given the amount of time and resources invested in home landscapes, a soil test is an excellent investment in achieving horticultural success. The process is simple, easy and inexpensive. An internet search easily identifies soil test labs that handle residential samples. The UF/IFAS Extension Office Bay County has kits for submitting samples. There are several characteristics common to area soils, but these are not universal. High amounts of phosphorus are a common trait of local soils. If, as is commonly the case, the soil test report indicates that phosphorus is present, then supplementary applications are not needed. Excess phosphorus tends to leach into the aquifer and surface water bodies, which can cause an assortment of long-term problems for everyone. The pH level, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, is a critical component of the soil test report. Many coastal soils are in the alkaline range, which affects the nutrient-absorbing ability of grass, shrubs and vegetable plants.
Les Harrison is a retired University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Wakulla County extension director.