talking roses August ’18

In the rose garden with Ludwig
Step-by-step rose care for August
Ludwig’s roses in Kroonstad

Rose of the Month
News from our rose centres“My passion for gardening may strike some as selfish, or merely an act of resignation in the face of overwhelming problems that beset the world. It is neither. I have found that each garden is just what Voltaire proposed in Candide: a microcosm of a just and beautiful society.”

Andrew Weil

In the rose garden with Ludwig

An early morning of black frost in June brought our long flowering season to an end. Even the blooms on ‘Iceberg’ and the unopened buds turned brown.

Considering that being north of Pretoria, we are supposedly frost-free, I was rather amazed to see the roses still flowering at our EGOLI branch and in and around Johannesburg.

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Roses at Egoli in JHB still in good flower on 7 July.

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‘Springs ’75’ and frost tender Poinsettias on the way to Egoli in JHB.

The roses in our trial gardens are pruned last; the first week in August. This delays the flowering which gives me more time to check out their pros and cons after the main flush of the other varieties is over.

Strolling through them now, I am very much aware of the ornamental value of the hip bearing varieties. We allow them to form hips because we do not pick the blooms.

The glossy coppery-coloured leaves of the Eco-chic types are also very attractive. It shows that such bushes are still striking in winter in gardens and shrubberies – until pruning time.

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Rose hips (fruit) create beautiful winter arrangements.

In addition to Talking Roses and articles in the various gardening magazines I gave 15 Pruning Demonstrations over the past few weeks.

After stating that rose pruning is easy and one cannot prune a rose wrongly, it usually takes me an hour and a half to explain how it is done, concluding with the after-pruning rose care.

The questions that come up every time are, “why aren’t you looking carefully at the position of the top eye and why is the top cut not slanted? Should the cuts be sealed?” All this is cosmetic and matters little to the performance of the roses.

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Inspect the growth that happened from last year’s cuts.
You will clearly see that the rose does not mind where and how you cut.

Another question that pops up every time: “Can I plant a rose in a position where a bush has died?”

Yes, it is indeed possible and easy. By digging a big hole and putting new soil, you can plant a new rose in the same position. Putting the new soil and rose plant in a cardboard box, helps.

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A rose planted in a card board box in a position where a previous one has died.

“My roses are still in bloom, mostly the ‘Iceberg’. Should they be pruned and if so when?” is also always asked.

Yes, it is definitely a good idea to prune them even if they are still in flower. It renews the plant and makes for a much neater framework and appearance.

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‘Iceberg’ that has not been pruned last winter. The plants become leggy and untidy.

Besides the questions raised at the talks, I also get calls from devastated gardeners who want to know why the performance of their roses is deteriorating year after year.

The cause is usually tree roots that invade the rose bed, even from afar. Every season it gets worse – obviously, because the trees are also growing. Getting water to the roots of the roses will solve the problem.

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This rose bed used to be magnificent, until the tree roots took over. They steal all the water.

Seeing the spike-like sprouting of the roses announces that spring is on its way. It is also an indication that the roots are happy. More of this further down.
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This is a super spike that is sprouting 3 weeks after pruning.

Step-by-step Rose Care

If you haven’t yet pruned, you can still do so – late pruning is better than no pruning.

Gardeners in the very cold regions know from experience that it is better to prune towards the end of August. The reason for this is that a frost in early September would burn the new growth. By pruning later, sprouting only occurs after the danger of frost has passed.

Most Eco-Chic varieties, as well as those that were sprayed regularly with Chronos (to protect the leaves from black spot) are still full of green leaves. It is a sign of well-being.

However, the rose is deciduous (shedding its leaves annually), and the leaves would already have made and converted lots of food for storage beneath the bark. As spring approaches new growth sprouts first from the highest point of the bushes and the old leaves from the past season will be neglected.

Water rising from the roots bypasses them on its way to the end of each stem or twig. These leaves then age and become a haven for spider mites and even fungus diseases. My advice, therefore, is that if you have not yet pruned, do so now and pull off all the old leaves.

‘Iceberg’ is the odd one out due to its genetic advantage of being able to keep on flourishing from the old woody main stems. However as mentioned, the bushes are much neater when pruned in winter.

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‘Panacotta’ in full leaf before pruning.

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‘Panacotta’ pruned.

Corrective pruning is fun. How the eyes sprout is an indication of the quality and quantity of the blooms to be expected. Lightly pruned roses, especially, will have many new sprouts and not all will result in quality blooms. One can easily shorten the stems or cut out small side stems.
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All these sprouted eyes will result in many thin stems with small blooms on.

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By cutting the stems out like this, quality stems and blooms will develop.

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Corrective pruning will promote better quality stems and blooms.

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Cutting them back like this will do the trick.

If the rose immediately makes small green leaves instead of spike-like sprouts, it is an indication that the roots are unhappy.

The unhappiness is likely caused by a lack of air and water, mostly due to soil compaction.

Dig an inspection hole next to a bush and check the quality of the soil and its moisture level.

There is still time to spread compost and material like peanut shells and crushed apricot pips around a bush or over the whole bed. Add Vigo-longer and dig in everything to a depth of at least 20cm, mixing it well with the turned over soil.

Another option is to spike the root zone with a digging fork, pushing in the tines all the way down, and moving it backwards and forwards, to make holes. Spread compost and other organics over the holes and flood water it down.

The same applies to roses growing in large containers or bricked up beds.

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If after pruning your rose sprouts small green leaves,
instead of lush red, purple ones, the roots are unhappy!

Watering or the irrigation regimen should also receive attention. One needs to be aware of how much water is provided by a sprinkler system. Placing a rain gauge at different points in a rose bed will show how many mm was applied over a set time (i.e. 30 minutes).

Roses need around 15mm per watering and in August once a week is generally sufficient.

The problem with supplying a daily amount of 5mm is that the water does not penetrate to the roots.

Run-off is a problem for sloped beds and a type of water holding basin around the rose will ensure that the water gets to the roots of the roses and does not run away. A basin around the roses is also a good idea if the roses are watered by hand-held hose.

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These cut out plastic washing basins work well to ensure watering happens efficiently.

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Concrete half rings on a sloped bed are essential.

Once the bushes start making their first leaves, drenching with KOINOR is a good preventative method for sucking insects such as thrips and aphids. This is best done end of August beginning of September.

Suckering stems from the root stock seldom occurs. You can easily tell the difference between suckers and basal or water shoots.

Suckers have smallish green leaves and the stems have no prickles. The lush reddish new stems that appear at the base of the bushes are basal or water shoots and they will provide us with the best blooms throughout the season.

They are retained at next year’s winter pruning and form the new framework for the rose while the older stems are removed. More on this and on finger pruning next month.

Youngish roses planted a few months earlier can be pruned back or you can wait until such water shoots sprout and then cut away all the initial inside stems. 

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These red shoots are the all important water or basal shoots.

Roses available in Kroonstad

We are happy to inform you that The Interior Shop in Kroonstad now stocks a range of varieties from Ludwig’s.

Kroonstad is a special place for us as Esther Geldenhuys who was a very dear friend and incredible rose doyen lived in Kroonstad. Her garden was simply magnificent and she inspired rose growing in the entire community.

Contact details: 130 Cross str, Kroonstad Tel: 056 213 1707

Rose of the Month: ‘Red Ayoba’ KORsixkono (N)

This is a feel good rose. When it comes to black spot resistance it is tough as nails. The bright red semi-double blooms keep on dancing over the amazing glossy green canopy of leaves. The plant is very neat and the foliage and blooms are dense. A rose that can be planted and then virtually be left to its own devices. Perfect for mass plantings.

Plants are available at a reduced rose of the month price from all our branches.

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News from our Rose Centres

Ludwig’s Rose Farm

Join us for a High Tea with a difference this Women’s day, the 9th of August. Enjoy a splendour of rose themed sweet treats at the rose kitchen. or Tel: 012 544 0144

Ludwig’s Pretoria East

The Rose Café has these exiting events planned:
9 August   –  Makeup for your Heart – Ladies Day
11 August – Ceramic painting class with Helen
13 August – Hekel klasse
16 August – Picnic earth circle of care – Cancer support
18 August – oil painting class with Janine

Visit our facebook page for detailed info.  

Booking is essential. Contact: Cheri 062 751 5203 or

Ludwig’s Roses EGOLI

Spring Rose Care and Finger Pruning Demo – Sat 8 September 10h30 

Ludwig’s Roses Winelands

Spring Rose Care and Finger Pruning Demo – Sat 15 10h00 & Sun 16 September 10h30 

Ludwig’s Roses Cape Town

Spring Rose Care and Finger Pruning Demo – Sat 15 September 14h00

Ludwig’s STAR Roses

My first Spring Rose Care and Finger Pruning workshop takes place:
Sat 1 September 14h00 and Sun 2 September at 10h30
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Happy Women’s day on Thursday – wishing you a day as beautiful as you are!

Rose greetings,