‘I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.’

David Hobson  


The eminent Irish Rosarian and great orator, SEAN McCann, who was twice the main speaker, bringing the audience to tears, at national rose conventions in South Africa, passed away in February. It was by chance that I came across one of his quotes that I used in my column in ROSA NEWS in 1979: “I always said that it only takes 5 things to grow perfect Roses and I have talked about these essentials so often that it now becomes a gentle chant to my audiences. These five things are food, water, air, sun and in a chant comes the fifth “and a little bit of love”.

Sean McCann & Esther Geldenhuys 

If you think about it you will realise that not only would a Rose be happy in those conditions, so would you! It is part of my dictum: do onto Roses what you would like to be done to you. (Sean was insistent that the Rose is royalty and should be written with a capital R.)

Those who have been following my column and listened to my talks will know how much I have stressed these points, but in the sequence adjusted to our climate starting with water, followed by manuring and fertilising, aeration and talking to your roses, always accepting that in South Africa there can be too much sun and a little bit of shade is acceptable.

Certainly the weather pattern is more and more unpredictable. However, the roses adjust easily, even overcoming hail damage, as I have seen in Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg very recently.

The ‘Cordwalles Centenary Rose at Cordwalles 3 weeks after hail

With enough extra watering to make up for the short-coming of what is now known as the green drought, our roses are – well….stunning. Apart from the water and fertiliser, I do talk to all of them. To some, more than others. Here are images of those who responded to my talking to them.


‘Forever Busy’                                                         ‘Tawny Profusion’


‘Shocking Blue’                                                        ‘Amelia Dee’


‘Esther Geldenhuys’ always dependable             ‘The Yellow’


‘Red Ayoba’                                                               ‘Tempi Moderni’

February with St Valentine’s Day is the month for red roses. For years we had tried to persuade customers to look at other colours as well. But to no avail. I was therefore very pleased when many of our visitors and patrons in the restaurant became enchanted with the mixed bunches created by our florist, Kora.

‘Kora making colourful Valentine bouquets’

Driving to KZN, the short stopover at Bergview in Harrismith showed that by attending to Sean’s five things rose growing is easy and rewarding.

Bergview Engen garage rose garden



Autumn is the best time to visit these super rose gardens.

We meet at Ludwig’s Soleil; Lynnwood Road extension, at 08h00 for departure at 08h30 and expect to return at R12h30.

The cost is R250.00 Refreshments included.

Bookings close this Wednesday.

Bookings: Emily 012 5440144 | emily@ludwigsroses.co.za

AUTUMN ROSE FESTIVAL Sat & Sun 21/22 March 

at Ludwig’s Rose Farm.

Spectacular displays, tractor-train rides through the roses, children’s playground, rose-themed menu at ‘Spiced Coffee’ and picnics to order. Entry free.


Workshop led by Anja Taschner at Ludwig’s Roses Egoli, Glenferness. Cost R 1500 includes tools, vases, flowers and refreshments. To book contact Yvette@ludwigsroses.co.za, or contact Yvette 0114586045, Cell: 081 715 5110.


Finally there was good rainfall in many of the regions that experienced drought. For many of the maize farmers this would have been too late to save the crop and maybe even to green the veld for grazing. Roses that did not receive sufficient water would of course immediately respond to the rainfall and react with a good crop of blooms within weeks.

The cooler nights and partially cool day temperatures slow down the growth which results in bigger blooms and a far more intense colouring. Just as there are star performers in spring, there are as many varieties that show off their very best in autumn. That is why gardening with roses is always fascinating.


Massive ’50 Shades of Grey’ blooms                 ‘Irish Luck’ at its best

Deep drench WATERING is still important but not as urgent as it was in the hot months. With good drainage there is no danger of over-watering.

Every March I stress that the application of fertiliser is vital for continued flowering into winter. To the rose, the shorter days herald the approach of winter and that it is time to convert food for storage. This would mean the slowing down of new growth and the leaves taking on autumn colours. However, by giving additional fertiliser, (twice the normal rate of 30g per bush) our roses have no choice, but to absorb, utilise and keep on growing. The only exception is in those gardens where frost is experienced in May. After all, we know that the chance of frost is so much later and not severe. Having written this, I remember a year of sudden frost in early May damaging all our blooms that were ready for Mother’s Day. The roses re-sprouted and we had good blooms in June.

Fungus diseases such as Black Spot, Rust and Downy Mildew become much more vicious and difficult to control in cooler weather. Dew that stays on leaves until late morning is one of the reasons. Preventative spraying is therefore essential. Our recommended Cocktail consisting of CHRONOS and Ludwig’s INSECT SPRAY is still most effective.

Grooming and dead heading for the sake of a neat garden may still be carried out.

If some of your roses are really looking poor and the only solution would be – to dig up, replenish the soil and re-plant – then this a good month to do so. We did this with some roses in pots on the 4th of February. See the images step by step.


Soil settled too deeply                 Leaves dried after re-potting       Healthy new leaves have emerged


Rose invaded by queck grass   Root ball loosened                      30 days later

In last month’s Talking Roses I stressed the severity of leaf and flower damage by the tiny insect Thrips and recommended spraying with KOINOR. I was made aware by a reader that KOINOR should not be sprayed but only used as a drench. This is technically true. Insecticides with the active ingredient imidachloprid (known as neonicotinoids or for short neonics) are very selective and not as vicious as most other insecticides which I usually proclaim to be the big hammers for killing beetles. The claim that neonics are responsible for the dying of pollinators has not been proven. On this topic I was astonished to see that bees are plagued and killed by varroa mites and it is only with heat (38 degrees C) that they can be eradicated without killing the bees.

A pity that red spider mites seem to love the heat!

Varroa mite killing the bee

ROSE OF THE MONTH ‘Belle Rouge’ & it’s amazing sports

Indulge in the classic Hybrid Tea beauty. This month you get to choose from ‘Belle Rouge’, ‘Red Intuition’, Pink Intuition, ‘Sabine Bosman’ and ‘Belle Coral’

They all boast a good supply of long stemmed cut flowers with firm petals of an unfading, velvet-red.

Their foliage exhibits a good resistance to black spot.



north of Pretoria on the N1 | 012 5440144

Ludwig’s Roses has acquired our daughter brand, you will soon be seeing your favourite rose products branded as Ludwig’s Roses. Also, when visiting the farm, you will find the pay station and gardening products in the shop.



Enjoy leisurely picnics & an exciting hunt between the roses on Easter Sunday.

The Easter bunny has hidden sweets & colourful items for the kids to find and they can also:

EASTER EGG  HUNT – R130 p/child

The registration & hunt starts from 9h and runs through to 11h. Each child hunts at their own pace and should find 4 of each: pine cones, colourful stones & cardboard eggs, sweets & more. The cones, stones & cardboard eggs are then exchanged for a chocolate & sweet hamper.

HARVEST TABLE – this year we will have a large harvest table for all the guests to enjoy fresh picnic style foods.

Bookings is essential for the Picnic, Hunt & Harvest table. Please contact events@ludwigsroses.co.za | 012 544 0144 for more information.


Lynnwood Rd, PTA on the N1 | 012 817 2099

Our rose plants for sale are looking good! Visit us for excellent advise and good service.


97 Lachlan Rd, Glenferness, JHB | 011 458 60451

Our rose plants are looking good and the shop if fully stocked. See above for the upcoming flower arranging workshop.


6 Fraser Rd, Assagay, KZN | 081 380 8496

It was my first visit to our KZN Branch since the move from the Heritage Market to Assagay. Our roses really, really love this new place. Both the plants in containers offered for sale as also the extensive plantings of a show garden. Granted each bush has its own little mushroom type sprinkler and the roots are protected under the weed stop cloth and lots of peanut shells were worked into the red soil prior to planting. Hardly anyone of the attendees to my work shop talk could believe that these roses were planted 6 months ago.


Surrounded by 6 month old roses                            Every bush has its own sprinkler


Roses in the retail are lush and happy


R304, near Stellenbosch, WC | 021 884 4552

We have had a delivery of new stock! We look forward to welcoming you.


Chart Farm, Klaassens Rd, Wynberg | 071 640 9565

Our rose name boards will be up soon to make shopping easy!

Rose greetings,

Ludwig Taschner