How to get the best rose blooms for Christmas

Like everything else in South Africa, the December rose garden fits in quite happily with the holiday spirit.

The second flush of rose blooms usually occurs just before Christmas says rose grower Ludwig Taschner and it is possible to groom the roses in such a way that there are good cutting blooms as well as a show in the garden.

Ludwig’s advice is to take out the centre bud as clusters develop on floribundas and some hybrid teas,. This will allow the rest of the shoots in the cluster to develop better stems and it will spread out the flowering.

Hybrid teas can be disbudded in order to have one large pickable bloom per stem rather than three smaller blooms. Count the number of flowering stems on a bush, disbud half of the blooms and allow the others to flower freely. This will provide a display in the garden and for the vase.

If the roses were not finger pruned at the beginning of the season they can still be pinched back to stagger the flowering. Pinch off a third of the buds. This will also produce good long stems for the vase.

Water deeply  twice a week and control pests with Ludwig’s Insect Spray every second week. Should there be heavy rainfall, add Chronos to the spray. It is a fungicide that prevents black spot. Fertilise towards the middle of December with Vigorosa.


Picking roses for the home

vase of mixed hybrid tea roses.

The best time to cut garden roses is early or late, rather than in the heat of the day. Have a bucket of water with you so that you can put the stems into water immediately after cutting.

Blooms which have opened on the bush – to a third or half open – last better in the vase than immature buds.

When cutting the stems to put in the vase make a long-slanted cut that is not easily blocked when drawing up water.

The bigger the wound the more water the stems take up. To get the balance right the length of the flower stem should not be more than double the height of the vase.

Chrysal flower food is better than vinegar and sugar for extending the life of the flowers. If you haven’t used Chrysal, change the water every two or three days, especially if you have not stripped off the leaves as the water becomes murky.

‘Ballerina’ rose.

Planting roses

December is a good month to plant roses and the selection of new roses for the garden can be an exciting project.

Don’t let heat and water restrictions discourage you. Roses that are more drought-tolerant have specific characteristics. Generally, they will be spreading groundcovers or neat shrubs. The aspects to look out for are:


Water wise roses

‘Not Simply Pink’ rose.

Some examples of water wise roses are ‘My Granny’, ‘Rosy Cheeks’, the ‘Ayoba’ range, ‘Salmon Sunsation’, ‘South Africa’, ‘Deloitte and Touche’, ‘Not Simply Pink’, ’Bridget’, ‘Joburg Garden Club’, ‘Pink Profusion’, ‘Easy Does it’, ‘Memoire’, ‘Avril Elizabeth Home,’ and ‘Winter Sun’.


Quick tips:

Pine needle mulch

Going away?

Follow this check list for peace of mind when leaving the roses home alone:


Roses in containers:

Move container roses into the shade and place them on saucers to catch any water. Mulch the surface of the pot. Arrange for watering every second to third day or link them up to the irrigation system. Spray and also removed young shoots and buds.

For more information, click here.


Article supplied by Alice Coetzee.

For more on gardening, visit Get It Magazine.

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