Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Eight Things That Can Help Your Roses (and other high water use plants) Get Through The Drought

Roses have a long history in both western and eastern cultures, and rose gardens are considered a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Although there are many roses, both native to California and the old world, that are fairly drought tolerant, the dominant rose you’re going to find in most people’s gardens are hybrid teas, followed by the smaller floribunda types and the large grandifloras and climbing roses. These just about all have Chinese tea roses in their ancestry, a rose that, by itself, is not very hardy to Southern California’s dry, arid climate. This means that most of the roses that are popular today have moderate to heavy water needs. Even though roses benefit from a 2 to 3 times a week watering schedule there are some methods and techniques you can use to help your roses get through the drought and, if they have to,  being watered only once a week. Here they are:

1.     Mulch

 Bark mulches (small to medium size) are best for roses. Apply a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around your roses. Mulch helps even out the drying process of the soil, and as an added benefit, compounds that are released during the mulches slow decay are beneficial to your roses and detrimental to diseases and pests.

2.     Put ‘em on a diet.

 Feeding your roses produces growth that is more likely to lose water, so do not feed your roses until next year in the early spring.

3.     Apply Sunscreen

Kaolin powder spray can be applied to your roses to help them get through the drought. The fine, white clay acts as a sunscreen, keeping leaves cooler and lowering the amount of water they lose during the day. As an added bonus it also deters damaging insects. You will have to reapply after a rainstorm and the roses will look a little ghostly with their coating of fine white clay.

4. Strip 'em

If you remove all the leaves from your rose and leave the buds, the resulting foliage will adapt to the roses new, restricted watering schedule.

5.     Get them to the castle and close the drawbridge

Next winter, when transplanting is ideal, aggregate your roses into a single, high maintenance bed where you can control the watering and give them that special care.

6.   Let ‘em wear shades

Erect shade structures over your roses. 10%-20% shade cloth should do just fine. There new, more shaded digs will keep water loss from them to a minimum.

7.   Cover them with plastic (not what you think)

Spray on anti-transpirants are solutions that leave a plastic film covering the leaves and branches of the rose that can help your them get through particularly dry periods, but don’t overuse them.  One popular brand is Wilt-Pruf, another is Cloudcover. This is a last resort, and some experts believe that anti-transpirants aren’t that effective.

8.   Get used to their new ‘rough’ look.

Once you've applied some of the above strategies, watering roses only once a week, even in the dead of summer, probably will not kill them. However they may be a little (or a lot) rough around the edges. Get used to the browning and yellowing leaves that are sign of the plants adjusting to their new water regime.






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