Preparing for the next bloom cycle

Despite the confusingly unstable spring weather, the first rose bloom cycle was grand and glorious. It seemed extended as the second cycle followed so closely it was difficult to detect any separation.

As one bloom cycle’s blossoms fade, we should prepare for the next by lightly pruning back each spent blooming cane to a point of at least pencil size circumference and to an outward-facing leaf junction with the cane—use this same technique when cutting blossoms for bouquets. This prevents canes from growing into the center of the plant and crossing other canes, which could reduce air circulation through the bush. If you performed this task two weeks ago, you should now have new canes with small buds forming.

Whatever type of fertilization program you use, I suggest applying fertilizers slightly higher in phosphate toward the end of each bloom cycle. Remember to irrigate the day before applying any fertilizer. I highly recommend an organic formula for many reasons: non-toxic, healthy to the environment, doesn’t leach into ground water, improves soil structure and microbial diversity, won’t burn foliage or petals, requires less energy to manufacture, and you can safely use any plant parts for crafts, cooking, and eating, and will require less product after three years of use.

As summer approaches, and higher temperatures are expected, increase the amount of water to each bush. When temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, the average hybrid tea will require 9 to 12 gallons of water each week—more if the soil structure is loose or sandy. The typical miniature requires about one third that volume. At temperatures into the high 90s and beyond, increase water volume at least 30 percent. Check plants before noon; they will show if they need water by the subtle changes in leaf texture and color before they actually wilt. Ideally, water should be applied pre-dawn to allow them time to fully hydrate before they face the demands of the day.

After the current bloom cycle (which will end mid to late June), I suggest removing only faded petals – that is, leave the immature hips. This signals the plant to expend less energy on growth and place it into a kind of dormancy during the hottest summer months.

Blooms produced in high temperatures are smaller, sun burnt, and stress the plant. Continue to apply the recommended amount of water even during this summer dormancy. Plan to do a mid-season pruning in mid-September to get two more bloom cycles.

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