Rose growing myths

Rose growing myths 1

Roses have been cherished and grown in gardens for very many generations.

In some instances, the published or suggested advice has become outdated and is no longer practical or has been superstition all along.

We believe that rose growing is easy and that by following the basics, you can enjoy roses that flourish and provide you with colour, fragrance and beauty for 9 months of the year!

The myths we would like to bust with fact are:

Roses are a lot of work!

A lawn in many instances is much more work intensive then what your roses ever will be.

Your roses will perform if you have the basics of effective watering and regular fertilising in place. A little necessary grooming now and then and a prune in winter are easily done. A regular spray program will keep them even happier. The benefits of having roses in your life are far greater then the “hard work” they are thought to be by some.

You should never water roses overhead. Their leaves and blooms should never get wet!

In our South African climate the leaves dry so quickly that this method of applying water has absolutely no negative effect on them. In the heat of summer they love it!

The important thing is that they should receive effective watering that reaches their roots and seeps in deeply around their root area. Each plant should receive 10 – 15 litres of water per week in summer.

Black spot is spread when the weather is moist and suitable for the spores to germinate.

Roses need a lot of water!

When water is applied to your roses effectively, they do not require that much water. A lush green lawn most certainly uses up much more water then your rose bushes.

Roses are drought tolerant and survive dry spells, even though they adapt and do not flower as much. Once they receive adequate water again they quickly flush with new growth and blooms.

You should not water your roses too much, you can easily over water them.

As long as the water drains away and does not stand in clay soil so that the roots are permanently very wet, your roses will appreciate a little extra water.

10 – 15 litres a week for each plant in summer will have your roses out performing any other flowering plant in your garden.

It rained today, I don’t need to water my roses this week.

Only if you measure 10mm or more of rain can you skip a watering.

Specially pots need very good rain for them not to be watered as they have a very small catchment area.

If you see yellow leaves on a rose plant you must pick them off and throw them away to stop the spread of disease!

Black spot spores occur in the air naturally. They germinate on the leaves when the leaf remains wet for a long enough period of time.

Removing infected leaves

You must apply Epsom salt around your roses regularly.

Epsom salt is comprised of hydrated magnesium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral first found in the well waters of Epsom, England.

The fertiliser we recommend, Ludwig’s Vigorosa is a balanced fertiliser and it contains Epsom salt. So if you are applying it there is no need to apply additional Epsom salts at all.

You should cut a rose stem at an angle.

We find that cutting the stem straight off at a right angle gives the smallest wound, is easiest and quickest to do and never damages an eye.

The slant is believed to make sure moisture always flows off the stem.

You must always cut a rose stem above an outward facing eye.

Grooming a rose or cutting rose blooms for the vase is not a science and one does not need to spend a long time contemplating where to cut.

If the rose bush is happy and growing well, it will sort itself out. Besides one needs inward and outward facing shoots and blooms.

You should seal the ends of each stem once you have cut them back or picked a rose.

This is not necessary at all. It would take eons to do if you have many roses.

The only time sealing is a concern is if you have a stem borer wasp infestation. They burrow a hole in the middle of your rose stems to lay their eggs. If they are a problem, you can seal the stems with steriseal, mud or PVA paint. If you don’t, the eyes below the hollowed out part will sprout and the rose easily outgrows the intrusion.

Remember that cutting back a rose does not hurt the plant, it actually stimulates new growth, similar to cutting your hair.

You should only cut a rose above a 5 pinnaed or clustered leaf.

Grooming a rose or cutting rose blooms for the vase is not a science and one does not need to spend a long time contemplating where to cut.

If you cut at a 3 pinnaed leaf and the eye at the base of the leaf won’t sprout, the one below it will.

Die back or stem canker is contagious and should be cut away!

When the rose bush is denuded of leaves, the sap flow within the stems slows down and ceases. The sap then is heated up to such an extent that it almost starts to boil within the plant. The cambium tissue beneath the bark is then scorched – this is known as sunburn or stem canker. Leaves are not only needed to regulate the sap flow but also shade the stems and branches. So, if your roses are experiencing sunburn, water well, don’t fertilise and pinch back all buds to stimulate sprouting further down the main stems.

It has nothing to do with an infectious disease!


Sunburn or stem canker can devastate the plant. See how it is fighting back by sprouting a new red shoot.

Never, ever loosen the soil around a rose, you will disturb their roots.

Roses indeed do have a shallow root system so it is not advisable to dig around their roots when they are actively growing.

However if a rose is not growing well because of compacted and tired soil, the plant will thank you if you work in course organics and compost at any time of the year.

Digging around the roots to work in compost, loosen the soil and work in rough organics at pruning time in winter when the plant is dormant, is no problem at all.

You must dig fertiliser into the soil for it to be absorbed.

Most N-P-K fertilisers are water soluble and simply need to be scattered around the rose’s root area. After a good watering the fertiliser dissolves and the nutrients are carried down to the roots.

Ludwig’s Vigolonger, a controlled fertiliser, is an exception to the rule. It needs to be worked in to the upper 15cm of the soil as it releases the nutrients over a period of 8 months.

Modern roses don’t have a fragrance anymore.

A rose variety’s fragrance is inherited from its ancestral lineage and has to do with genetics.

Many varieties have a fragrance and many simply don’t.

Fragrant varieties as a rule have thinner petals from which the fragrance molecules are able to escape and reach our noses. Their vase life is thus not as long as thicker petalled, non-fragrant roses, which are far more commonly sold as cut roses.

Roses have become so expensive.

Gardening, like anything else today, is not cheap. However, if you see planting a rose as a long term investment, the rewards and benefits that you will reap far outweigh the cost.

We are here to make sure that after planting your roses flourish.

A rose bush can easily become 20 years old.

You should never plant a rose in the same spot where another rose has died.

Yes this is true and even though scientifically the reason is still a mystery, the phenomenon is called rose replant disease.

Easily circumvented by digging out the soil and replacing it with new soil.

Or one can treat the soil by diluting a cup of jeyes fluid in a bucket of water and drenching the position. After a week, the soil can then be enriched with compost and the new rose can then planted.

My husband did not prune the roses correctly last winter and now this season they are just not growing the way they should.

Pruning does not directly effect the roses’ performance in the season. It is determined by the irrigation, regular application of fertiliser and spraying.

One can not prune incorrectly!

You need to spray with lime sulphur after pruning, it will keep all pest and diseases away from your roses in the new season.

Lime sulphur smells like rotten eggs. It was used long before proper pesticides and fungicides were available. It does not effectively keep pest and diseases from your roses.

We recommend spraying with Ludwig’s Insect Spray at 100ml to 10 litres of water after pruning. The smell of garlic is far more pleasant and the combination of pyrethrum, garlic and rape oil most certainly does get rid of pests.

Black, brown and blue roses are so scarce that they are extremely expensive.

There are no true black, brown or blue roses. There are however reds that are so dark they almost turn black in the sun and have a velvety sheen, beige toned, amber with lavender coloured roses and lilacs and purples. These roses are priced the same as other roses.

A genetically modified “blue” rose which contains the blue pigment delphinidin was developed in 2004. It is not much bluer then the existing lilacs.

White roses can be dyed blue or rainbow coloured.

Roses don’t grow at the coast.

Coastal weather is far more humid which means that fungus diseases can be slightly more challenging. A regular spray program however makes it very possible to have immaculate roses at the coast.

In very windy spots a wind break will help.

Planting garlic around your roses will keep all insects from plaguing them.

This will help to an extent, but unfortunately the bugs will most probably still find your roses.

Spraying with dish washing liquid will rid your roses of aphids.

Aphids can be a stubborn pest to get rid of and sometimes even pesticides don’t work.

Drenching with Koinor is effective.

Spraying with jeyes fluid will rid your roses of all insects.

We have heard claims that jeyes fluid works wonders. We presume that the roses in question are happy and healthy in any case and that it has nothing to do with the jeyes fluid.

Roses have thorns.

Even though everyone refers to the prickles on roses as thorns, they are strictly speaking prickles and not thorns.

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