Judy Singer on Summer Heat!


It’s June and it’s Dry, Dry, Dry

If you’ve been watching your blooms fry in the heat, you’re not alone. June is the hardest month for them. Water gets sucked out of the petals so fast, it’s hard for the roses to replenish it before the petals shrivel. I’ve put a thermometer up in my desert garden and was shocked to see temperatures hit 142 degrees with reflection from the desert soil. Oh my! What to do, what to do?

1) Be sure your roses are sufficiently watered, and that doesn’t just refer to the quantity of water, which may be diverted by already very dry soil or caliche. The water needs to get to the roots. If the soil dries out even once, it will be very hard for the soil to recover its moisture retention abilities. Shove a metal probe into the soil after you have watered. If it pushes thru the soil down to the roots, great! If the probe doesn’t go down deeply, the water hasn’t gone where you want it to go. If that happens, a very long, slow drip or light circular sprinkler system will be the best way to rehydrate. If the rose is in a pot and is small enough, submerge it in a bucket of water until the soil is good and saturated and the pot is heavy.

2) If you haven’t already done so, MULCH! Add a good thick layer of mulch to your roses. This will not only keep the soil cool, but will cut down on the rose’s water needs. There are many types of mulch. Use organic mulches which will break down and improve the soil. Do not use black plastic as recommended on some sites. This will heat up the soil and prevent water from getting to the roots. Here is a good article on mulches: http://scvrs.homestead.com/Mulching.html

3) Keep the humidity up around the roses. A misting several times a day during the heat will be welcomed by them. Soaking the topsoil around them will help keep the local air humid.

4) You can try shading them with shade cloth. If you’ve got new roses with small root systems, it may be better to keep them out of the sun for most of the day during June, giving them only morning sun. If they’re in black pots, paint the pots a lighter color or shade them pots as much as possible. Black pots will get VERY hot.

5) Leave the leaves! Your canes need as much shade as possible, so don’t pull off those yellowing leaves unless there is plenty of good green foliage on the bush. Unless you’re cutting blooms for the house, forget the “cut down to a 5 leaf node” rule. Just deadhead the bloom down to its closest leaves.

Hang in there. July will be here soon with (hopefully) rain and higher humidity which our roses will appreciate.

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