Newsletters: singing Roses in the rain – January ’19

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In the rose garden with Ludwig
Rose Care for January
Rose of the Month
News from our Rose centres
Gardening is learning, learning, learning.
That’s the fun of them. You’re always learning.
Helen Mirren
In the Rose Garden with Ludwig

We wish you a splendid New Year filled with nothing but rainbows and roses!

We are so excited about 2019. A year that started with deep drenching, dam filling rain. You don’t get better than that!

The good rains in most regions have made all the difference! Even with regular watering and efficient irrigation there always seems to be a spot in the garden where the water doesn’t penetrate deeply enough.

The roses still grow and even flower, but not with the profusion that one expects. After the deep drenching rain, we recently had – 20mm, then 55mm then another 25mm and now 5 – 10cm off and on – such water-starved roses suddenly start sprouting with reddish shoots.

And having fertilised them after the first big rain shower I notice beautiful thick water shoots appearing. I love nothing more than pinching out their tips. They mature more quickly and sprout several new stems. By not topping them, they run the risk of being snapped off by the next storm. 

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A defoliated rose bush is sprouting with lush, red, new leaves after the rain.

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These new, invigorated, red shoots will all form new blooms.

At this time of year, we often hear comments from clients strolling through the roses that the blooms are small, especially those of ‘Garden Queen’.

Blooms get smaller when temperatures are high and humidity is low. One needs to remember that when the roses started to sprout after winter pruning in August and into September the days and nights were cool. It is at this stage that the size of the blooms is determined.

The second flush starts off in October with high temperatures and quick growth. Even more stems need to produce even more blooms, so they simply have to become smaller.

Of course small rose blooms are still beautiful rose blooms, however our human brains seem to intrinsically believe that bigger, is always better. From autumn into winter they will again be super big.

To overcome the “small bloom period’ the commercial cut rose growers either cool their greenhouses with costly energy or move to regions with a permanent cool climate at elevations between 1700m to 2000m near the equator, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador or Columbia.

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A huge ‘Garden Queen’ bloom in April

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A Summer sized ‘Garden Queen’. 

The extremely hot, dry weather in early December followed by the present gentler, moist climate gave me a good opportunity to assess the performance of the many different varieties.

We need them to cope with both extremes. Unless the 5 petals of single flowered blooms are stiff and firm they shrivel in the heat within a day or two and blow off with our windy thunder storms. ‘Iceberg’ with its semi-full 10 petalled blooms always looks good. All in all, I must admit that even in a Floribunda, I prefer a shapely bud and a fuller bloom.

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‘Forever Busy’ rivals ‘Iceberg’ with its floriferousness and fuller blooms. 

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‘Naughty Nude’ puts on a spectacular show!

Compared to Winter Pruning, Summer Pruning or grooming requires an individual approach.

Not only is every variety different, but it also depends on the condition of the bush. January is the right time to carry out summer pruning, but more on this further down.

For us the 2nd of January means a good cutting back of our cut roses, mostly of course the “Red’s” in order to have lots of nice blooms for St Valentine’s Day. It is only ‘Cora Marie’ that needs to be cut back by 28 December to have the new crop of its long- stemmed blooms ready by the 12th of February.

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The red roses have been cut back, so that they are in full production
for Valentine’s day!

Join us for an informative and practical demonstration on how to summer prune your roses so that you reap the benefit of improving the quality and quantity of your blooms into Autumn.

There is no cost involved and booking is not necessary.

EGOLI | Sat 12 Jan 10h30

FARM | Sun 13 Jan 10h30

PRETORIA EAST | Sun 13 Jan 14h00

WINELANDS | Sat 19 10h00 & Sun 20 Jan 10h30

CAPE TOWN | Sat 19 Jan 14h00

BIG RED BARN | Sat 19 Jan 10h00

STAR | Sat 16 Feb 14h00


If you aren’t able to attend,
this video gives you a summed up
run down of how to summer prune.
Step by Step Rose Care in Jan / Feb

During these next two months, the weather determines what we should do for our roses.

In South Africa we are blessed with up to 8 flushes, compared to regions with a moderate climate as is the case in Europe, where three flowerings per season is absolute maximum.

That is why we need to perform some grooming in the form of summer pruning so that we coerce the best from our plants for the rest of the season.

Unless one has continuously dead headed, cut off the old blooms and shortened stems regularly. Not grooming our roses at this time of year is almost comparable to not cutting the lawn – it looks untidy and the quality of the blooms will be poor.

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Spent blooms on these plants have regularly been cut off,
counting 3 leaves down.
Here no or little summer grooming is required.
Note all the different stages of buds and bloom

H Arctic resprouting after deadheading note no.jpg

An ‘Arctic Ice’ re-sprouting after dead-heading.
Note the far side that has not been dead-headed,
has no new growth forthcoming.

Where a bush is very dense, the stems and leaves prevent light falling onto the lower leaves and also reduces the air flow, so it takes longer for the leaves to dry after rain. This could cause black spot and Downy mildew infection resulting in defoliation, which is not good at this point in summer. In addition, it slows down the flow of the sap into every leaf. This again concentrates the sugar content in these inside leaves and they become a breeding place for red spiders.
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These ‘Gold Reef’ bushes have become very dense.
Carrying out summer pruning will open up the bush
and encourage fresh new growth. 

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The same bushes after the summer prune has been performed.
It is easy!

When carrying out a summer prune, one needs to check out each bush to identify the more upright stems that need to remain, one cuts out inside facing short stems without leaves.

With this done, check for forked stems and cut some of these forked stems away, leaving the better or more prominent side of the fork.

Now we look at the height. The stems of some of the roses have grown far too high and they may be shortened.

But this is where the critical aspect comes in. You need to retain a balance of leaves, whatever you do.

If the bush is fully clothed with foliage, it is not a problem to cut down stems to a more manageable height, if there are still leaves under the cut.

With no leaves, water going up and sap going down is restricted and with heat stress it could cause severe sunburn and eventually stem canker. Even in cooler weather it results in the formation of blind shoots.  

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Before a summer prune is carried out.

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After the summer prune, the bushes look neat
and there is space for new growth to form.

H2a Summer prune before 1.jpg

Before cutting back the long, leggy stems that have finished blooming.

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The long canes have been halved, seeing as they retain leaves below the cut.

There are many varieties that form hips (fruit) once the petals have dropped. This takes a lot of energy and the plant actually reckons it does not need to make new growth and flowers. If this is evident all hip bearing stems should be cut back usually just under the hip cluster. New sprouting of flowering stems will start almost immediately.
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The stems that have formed hips should all be cut back now,
else the hips will hang on, ripen and the plant
will stop making new growth and not re-flower.

Bushes that don’t look good, being fairly denuded with a minimum of leaves, require gentler grooming. Still cut out inside facing twigs and lightly clean up but do not cut down the bush. Soon after the removal of the twigs the new sprouting takes place.

Once this is obvious, more grooming may be carried out, always cutting above a new red shoot which will then grow faster and stronger.

Few plants are as productive as the modern rose. They continuously produce flowering stems. The production of these new stems, however, requires nutrients with water of course.

Modern roses are planted in beds and generally compete for nutrients. For this reason, we recommend fertilising the roses once a month from September to April.

Our Vigorosa fertiliser has the full complement of nutrients required in the right proportions. However, gardening does require green fingers or gardening common sense when deciding on how much per bush. The norm is 30g per bush that measures out to 25ml of a measuring cup. I used to say a handful, until I was asked to show the size of my hand.

However, it does depend on the size of a bush. A large rose might need double that quantity and a smallish rose a little less – more might burn its roots.

We recently realised that the manufacturers of the fertiliser, inserted a 50ml instead of a 25ml measuring cup by accident into the buckets. We received a complaint from a gardener that it worked out far more expensive then stated on the 750g bucket as she was not able to fertilise all 30 bushes, but that her rose bushes have doubled in size.

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The light green shoot clearly indicates that the plant
could well do with a sprinkling of fertiliser.

Let’s get back to watering. Having had good rains brought a lot of semi-retired roses to life and they are flourishing. When the rain stops, one should make up for this with irrigation. One watering should be the equivalent of 15mm rain and that is needed at least once a week. 15mm rain on 1 square metre is 15 litres of water.

Oh… and keep on spraying. With the rainy weather it is best to spray fortnightly in order to protect the rapid new growth and leaves that appear. Using our recommended cocktail suffices under normal conditions. Alternating with Rose Protector would give even better defence.

Quite a few gardeners wrote to us about the solution to Powdery Mildew outbreaks. The leaves and around the bud end up having a pure white “powder” growing on them.

It used to be a major rose gardening problem in the olden days. The selection of resistant varieties has reduced it considerably. However, positions in a garden, climate and quality of soil does play a role. When the rose is slightly irritated, it does appear.

Adding a heaped tea spoon of sodium bicarb to a 5 litre spray solution or a table spoon for 10 litres should stop it almost immediately. The best available fungicide for it is ODEON.

For long term, it helps to work agricultural lime into the soil around the roses – about 250g per bush.

We recently had a report from a gardener in the Midlands confirming that spraying with Rose Protector does control Rose Rust, a problem in high humidity regions.

Roses of the Month: FRAGONARD DELparviro (P)

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If you are looking for intense fragrance – then look no further. Your nose will be delighted with a top note of grapefruit, heart notes of intense apricot on a base note of mango. Simply delicious!

This rose has won various awards for ‘best perfumed rose’ all across the world and most certainly has proved to be a variety that shines in our South African climate.

The pink flowers are of a deep cupped shape and the glossy foliage looks fresh and is disease resistant.

So why not treat yourself by planting this special French variety in your garden this January?

They are available at a special promotional price from all our rose centres this month.    

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Just look at how well this rose repeat sprouts and flowers!

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A special rose with an overpowering fruity fragrance!

News from our Rose Centres

Please feel free to visit us on the days we are presenting our Summer Pruning Demonstrations as stated above. You are welcome to bring the person that assists you in the garden. The practical advise really is worth applying to your roses. You will see the results!

Ludwig’s Rose Farm 

The restaurant on the farm will host special Cupid’s picnic baskets for Valentine’s in February. The romantic picnics are available not only on Thursday the 14th but on Friday and Saturday the 15th and 16th also.

On Friday the 15th they are preparing a rose inspired, candle lit dinner in the evening.

Booking is essential.

Please click here for more info or contact

May 2019 be a special year, where all of us take the time to stop and smell the roses a little more!

Rose greetings,

Ludwig & Halmar