Perfect roses without chemicals

20:19, Jul 23 2013
Red rose
Some care and attention now will help your roses bloom beautifully in spring.

During recent visits to garden centres I have noticed most of the staff busy potting up and placing the new season's roses out for display in the retail areas.

This season is the last time Mathews Roses will be available as they are retiring from their nursery business. This is a pity as they have the sole licence for several varieties and unless they pass these on to other growers there will be no more new stock.

Over the years the older rose nurseries have been disappearing and in many cases no younger ones are there to pick up the traces. If you want to buy a few roses this season I would not delay as there may be shortages.

Roses would be the most popular garden plant in New Zealand. For some gardeners they are the only feature plants that are really well cared for. It is because of all this attention to roses that gardeners endeavour to have them looking perfect, well shaped, lots of buds and flowers with no blemishes on the foliage.

You can have perfect or near perfect roses if you work with nature rather than against it.

Natural products will promote healthy roses. Chemical products designed as rescue remedies and rose foods will remove the natural balances, causing both insect pests and diseases to run rampant.


In the spring when the new season's growth appears, they are perfect and will remain so with a little help from a number of natural, health-promoting products.

If on the other hand we apply rose fertilisers, we knock back the vital soil life (micro-organisms and worms) because of these products' acidity. If we then apply chemical rose sprays, we damage the natural immune systems of the plants and harming the soil life. Our poor roses become targets for both insect pests and diseases as these are the cleaners of nature, taking out the weak, sickly plants. Roses are not easily killed but will remain sickly looking for the rest of the season. The situation becomes worse when we need to water, if our tap water contains chlorine.

To have really healthy roses you need to supply all the minerals and elements that the plant needs, feed the soil life and the micro-organisms that live on the plants, control any insect pests and ensure the roses have ample moisture and a suitable sunny spot to grow in.

For a new container-grown rose (standard or bush) I would pot it into a 45-litre container using a mix of compost, (80 per cent) a bit of soil (15 per cent) and chook manure (5 per cent). Under the plant I would place some Rok Solid, Ocean Solids and sheep manure pellets. A sprinkling of dolomite also.

Once planted, the mix will receive a drench of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) and Mycorrcin. About a month later I would prune it to the third outgoing bud then spray it with Liquid Copper to seal the wounds.

When the new foliage appears the plant will receive a two- weekly spray of MBL and Mycorrcin and on every second spray, Perkfection would be added to the spray.

If aphids appear on the buds and foliage, spray with Key Pyrethrum. If the rose is one from good breeding then there should be no further problems.

A sprinkling of Neem Tree Granules and Fruit and Flower Power on top of the mix every couple of months should keep the plant free of insect pests as well as supplying magnesium and potassium needed.

The same principals as above can be applied to roses planted in the open ground.

Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email

The Southland Times