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tips for growing roses

June 02, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

"Roses are a lot of work, but they're worth it," says Judy Mundey. "They're just beautiful."

Among her jobs in the rose garden is to "deadhead" the roses - remove the withered blooms to encourage new blooms.

Charlie Mundey shared some other rose-care tips:

Pruning is important so the plant's energy is concentrated in the bloom at the end of the cane - the stem. Prune at the point of the first five-leaf growth - the place where a new rose would bloom. Mundey has three pairs of pruners - Swiss-made, with all-replaceable parts.

He has two sprayers - hand-pumped and battery-operated models. It takes four hours to spray all his rosebushes.

A simple but effective tool is a 32-gallon trash can in which Mundey mixes alfalfa tea. The concoction includes water, 12 cups of alfalfa meal, some liquid iron and 20-20-20 - that's proportions of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash. He lets it "steep" for seven days, before pouring a gallon - on the ground - for each of his rosebushes. "It doesn't smell good, but it works," he says.

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Diseases and pests:

- Black spot, a fungus, is the biggest hazard.

- Spider mites can completely defoliate a rosebush in three days.

- Mildew is unattractive, but it doesn't really harm the plant.

Mundey uses a dab of Elmer's glue to seal each cane when he cuts a rose. "It's very important to seal the ends of the canes" to prevent borers from destroying the plants, he says.

Japanese beetles did a lot of damage in Hagerstown's north end last year, but Charlie Mundey only had a few. Nevertheless, he wishes they were on the "other side of the Mississippi River."

"Mr. Rose" doesn't recommend buying young plastic-bagged rosebushes in grocery stores. Potted bushes are OK, and Mundey recommends cutting the pot and slipping the plant into the hole.

But he prefers the traditional approach - lovingly planting bare-root roses. He soaks them for 36-hours. He digs a hole - 16-to18-inches deep and wide. The mix with which he will refill the hole is one-third soil, one-third peat and one-third perlite - to air out the mixture.

He places the "knuckle," the joint of the plant, an inch below ground level and backfills the hole with the soil mix. Then Mundey "heals" the plant to keep it from drying out, covering the entire protruding cane with mulch for two to three weeks.

Mundey planted "only" 11 new rosebushes this year. "He says he's going to downsize," Judy Mundey says doubtfully, laughing.

* * *

The Cumberland Valley Rose Society meets on the first Tuesday of each month. The 25-member organization plans to host a rose show at Valley Mall Saturday, June 8, 2003.

Rose society members are available to help people who are interested in growing roses. Call Treasurer Charlie Mundey, at 301-739-4669, or President Dick Chaney, at 301-790-0185.

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