Gardening: How to care for your roses - Brian Kidd

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My word, you seem to enjoy growing roses and at our allotment society store I’ve spotted several people buying Epsom salts and rose fertilisers.

At the garden centre there were readers with the list of products suggested to control most of the diseases we see on roses.

Just to recap: Copper Mixture followed a fortnight later with Multirose and a fortnight later Roseclear 2 or 3, then start the programme again. This will ensure pests and diseases will not become immune to the chemicals. Please read the instructions before buying these products.

It’s always best to prevent problems so, if you have not sprayed your roses yet, now is the time to prevent blackspot and mildew.

A pump-up pressure sprayer is an investment because concentrates can be bought and they work out much cheaper than those in ready-to-spray containers. These are OK to start with but seem to stop working when the container is two-thirds empty.

In the past 10 years there have been serious outbreaks of another disease called rose rust.

This is an accurate name for the disease which covers both surfaces of leaves with a rust-coloured powder.

The same disease affects fuchsias but each type of rust only attacks that species. For example, hollyhock rust won’t affect fuchsias or roses.

The interesting thing is that while they only attack that particular species it’s weather conditions which cause the problem. Hot humid weather allows rust to spread rapidly. If you see it on hollyhocks, spray roses quickly!

When I was an apprentice we used Liver of Sulphur which looks like hard, light green putty.

This was bashed with a hammer until it turned to a powder. Four ounces were added to two gallons of water to prevent rust and it worked brilliantly.

However, Liver of Sulphur, like so many other things, has been withdrawn.

What do we use now? The best product by far is Systhane. Read the instructions before you buy (take your glasses). Spray now and repeat according to the recommendation so rust will not ruin your lovely roses.

George, from North End, Portsmouth, prompted me to write about rose rust but he also wanted to know how and when to prune and train a rambling rose called New Dawn. This is a very old, perfumed, light pink rampant rose but looks great when trained correctly.

The main thick stems are best trained so they are tied into wires fixed 10in apart in hoop shapes so the tips of the main branches are facing the ground. This induces young shoots to grow from the main stems and the flowers form in great bunches.

Once the flowers die, all the stems which flowered are cut off so new ones form. These can be left to grow, or better still, tied down to form trailers or tied in to form the letter C. It’s worth having a go at this because the flowers look stunning when trained well. When trained, they are easy to spray too.