Reflections From a Novice Rosarian -- Jennifer Machado

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Why did I think that growing roses would be easy?

I started with two plants with good, strong canes purchased from a reputable nursery. I re-potted them in large terracotta clay pots using Miracle Grow soil for roses. I placed the pots in sunny spots on my front patio. I watered each plant well as needed and fed them with plant food especially for roses every month. I was doing all the right things and I was so proud of myself. The leaves were green and glossy; the stems were strong. Eventually, buds opened a little each day to reveal beautiful flowers that lasted at least five full days before the petals began to fall.

But six months later, everything changed. Some leaves are taking on a yellow-brown color; other leaves are curled and crispy or have black spots; and some have large, ugly holes. Buds open but the flowers are limp and the petals fall as soon as the bud fully opens. I was frustrated and ready to give up. Then I was saved...

On August 10th, I attended a San Francisco Rose Society meeting. American Rose Society president Jolene Adams talked to new and seasoned rose growers and I learned that my frustration had also been experienced by her and most rosarians. I learned what may have caused the changes in the leaves -- the name of the disease and what pests to look for. I felt hopeful again. I now knew how to help my roses! That same afternoon some members exhibited their beautiful roses and I could dream that I might have beautiful roses too with a little extra work and if I followed advice given freely from more experienced members.

After the meeting, I went home and immediately started turning over the leaves on my plants and wasn't too surprised to find several caterpillars. I also hosed off aphids on several buds using a strong stream of water. Lastly, I removed leaves damaged from fungus. I feel much better.

I hope I'll have roses to exhibit next month.

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