Archive for the ‘How Do You????’ Category

Grafting Rootstock

Multiflora Rootstock by Bill Blok
On April 4 my delayed order of maiden roses and multi-flora root stock arrived from Wisconsin Roses. These are seedlings advertised to be 1/8th inch in diameter, but some are smaller. I line them out in our garden about 10 to 12 inches apart. When these seedlings are properly grown in the greenhouse, they are grown with restricted lighting, to cause them to elongate upward. Ideally the grower tries to lengthen the upper portion of the root, which is the best grafting surface. When I plant these seedlings, I remove any roots that are on the upper 2 inches of root surface, while burying the remainder of the root in my garden soil. When well watered and fertilized, these tiny seedlings increase in diameter to about pencil size or larger by early August. August and early September are the best time for grafting on these multi-flora seedlings.
Early in my grafting career, following the advice of people who lived in other parts of the country, I tried to graft on multi-flora cuttings that I had rooted for that purpose, but had little success. I also tried to graft on standing multi-flora canes, also with very little success. Pallek, our Canadian rose supplier in the 80’s and 90’s, also sold rootstock seedlings, and I bought some at about 20 cents each. Now, with a U.S. source, the price is 80 cents each. There were years that I made 30 or more grafts, and only had 1 or 2 “takes”. People who are good at bud-grafting, like Steve Singer, probably get a 90% take, using rubber bands. I currently use paraphin tape, called Buddy Tape, and get probably about 50%. Not good, but better than before..


Walnut Hill Rose Products

Attached is our updated pricelist. (Resource page) Please feel free to include it in your newsletter to your society membership. We will have supplies available at the District Convention in Troy, but if anyone is particularly interested in purchasing something, let us know so we will be sure to have enough. Anyone not coming to Troy, can order, and maybe someone who is, would be kind enough to deliver, or allow them to pick up from them. Again, we try to be very competitive with our pricing (better than Rosemania, and Primary Products, for sure, and usually better than local garden centers, and even big box stores) because we would like to stay in business, and we would like to pass on some of our wholesale discounts to other rose growers.

We are now carrying Green Sand in two sizes for those looking for a “new” old soil enhancer that adds Potassium and micronutrients while it helps with drainage issues. Great for ROSES!!!

We also are now carrying a replacement product for RESPONSE (which was discontinued from the manufacturer). BIOBIZZ Alg-A-Mic is a revitalizing product made from a high-grade, organic seaweed concentrate extracted through cold pressing rather than chemical solvents. It contains a high content of trace elements and hormones of vegetable origin, naturally occurring amino acids, and vitamins. It boosts exuberant green foliage and enhances resistance to diseases. It is not a fertilizer, but a biostimulant to be used with regular plant nutrition.

We are also carrying two other BIOBIZZ products: Root Juice, a mixture of humic and fulvic acids with seaweed to promote vigorous root development and BioHeaven, biological stimulant including amino acids to enhance utilization and translocation of nutrients, boost the anti-oxidant system of the plant, it improves moisture retention in plants, reducing moisture stress, and it is compatible with all fertilizer programs.

We look forward to seeing you at the District Spring Convention.


Joyce and Tom
Walnut Hill Farm

Organic Matter

Organic Matter
One of the most important kind of substance for the successful growing of roses is organic matter. Organic matter is matter that is derived from the breakdown of plant and animal residues. Composts, animal manures, shredded leaves, plant clippings, and shredded bark are common sources of organic matter. Besides containing variable amounts of plant nutrients, they also improve soil texture, air and moisture penetration, and moisture retention. Tight, fine textured soils like clay and clay loam, become looser, softer, and more penetrable by water -when organics are added, while loose soils, such as sandy soils, absorb and hold water more effectively when organics are added. Organic surface mulches – like pine needles, shredded bark, and wood chips, keep soils cooler in summer, suppress weed growth and reduce water loss.
When we first started growing roses 20 or 30 years ago, the most recommended organic soil additive was Canadian Peat moss. It is still a good one, but it is no longer inexpensive. We still use a little to mix with garden soil, for potting purposes, but we rely mostly on home grown mulch materials, such as lawn clippings, shredded leaves, and shredded rose canes, and tree trimmings for general soil improvement. We have a power shredder to shred our canes and leaves, but you can use a power lawn mower to reduce piles of leaves to a finer texture that can be piled as compost, or sacked for later incorporation in your garden soil.
The best time to incorporate organic matter for roses is when you build a new rose bed. Dig the bed deep and refill the hole with alternate layers of organic mulch material and good garden soil. When you dig the hole for planting the new roses, that will usually do a good enough job of mixing the soil and organic layers.
The next best time to add organics to the rose bed, is when you dig up a planted rose, and prepare to replace it with a new plant. Sometimes, after the bed is fully planted, I have taken my post hole digger and dug out holes 1 to 2 feet deep, between the planted roses. Then I fill those holes with organic mulch, or an organic rich soil mix. That gets organic matter into the root zone, without disturbing many of the rose roots.
Extra mulch or compost material can also be top-dressed on the surface of the rose bed. I sometimes do this with unsightly or only partly decomposed materials, and then cover it almost immediately with my summer mulch of tree bark. This improves sight and the smell.
Most mulch materials contain a lot of cellulose (wood). This is rich in energy, but low in nitrogen. When the soil bacteria break down the mulch, they find a rich supply of energy, but not much nitrogen. As a result they take from the natural nitrogen supply in the soil to produce their own cellular protoplasm. In so doing, they compete with our roses for nitrogen. This is one reason gardeners are often warned to mulch lightly so as not to deplete the available nitrogen. I prefer the advantages of a heavy mulch. A handful of nitrogen rich mineral fertilizer, or a little soluble fertilizer will easily replace the nitrogen temporarily depleted by the decay bacteria. .

The Rose Business

The Rose Business
The rose business is changing! For many years, most of the commercial growing fields for roses were in the fertile valleys of California. The larger varieties of roses were mostly grafted on Doctor Huey root stock, and grown to large commercial size in the deep soil, long growing seasons of California. The two largest rose distributors, Jackson & Perkins, and Weeks Roses, were located in California. In the past couple of years, both of these rose distributors have experienced financial troubles and entered bankruptcy. Apparently, their fertile fields in California were very valuable, and were sold to pay their debts.
The word I get is that both companies have been reorganized, and are now in the process of moving some of their operations from California to Ohio. The reorganized Weeks Company, a wholesale distributor, has roses available for 2012 through Edmunds Roses, and through other retail garden centers, or nurseries. I have seen no new Jackson & Perkins Catalogs this year. Apparently, since they were in Bankruptcy longer, they were not able to graft many roses for sale in 2012.
I also understand that along with their move from California to Ohio, their will also be a move to produce more own-root roses. Grafting roses is a labor intensive process, requiring skilled labor, while growing roses from cuttings is a lower skilled process, and easier to mechanize. One result of this change will probably be smaller new rose plants. Grafted roses from northern and Canadian nurseries usually are smaller on arrival, than California grown plants, probably due at least in part, to the longer California growing season. Those who have grown some of their own large roses from cuttings, know that roses from cuttings often take longer to produce large plants.
Their may be a proximity advantage for mid-west growers when commercial rose operations move to Ohio. For several years we have noticed that new rose varieties, often appear a year or two earlier in California and near by states, than they do in our area. We suspect that this may be due to personal connections that rose growers develop with rose companies in their area, including some early test marketing.

Moving Plants

Moving Plants
October and early November is the ideal time to move (transplant) rose bushes. I have been busy moving some roses from pots to places in the garden, from one place in the garden to another place in the garden, or from places in the rose garden, to temporary healed-in spots (for winter) in the vegetable garden. Most of these healed-in roses will be available as Contribution Roses next spring. Early November is also the time us northern gardeners are allowed to ship trial garden entries to the Rose Hybridizers Trial Garden at ARS Headquarters. The regular shipping time for the trial garden roses is February, but we northerners are allowed to avoid winter by shipping in November.
Most of our large Contribution Roses are hybrid teas. White hybrid teas on our list include: Pristine, Crystalline, Sheer Bliss, Miss Kitty, and Artic Circle (Moonstone-like).
Other hybrid teas: Aint She Sweet (or)(frag.), Dedrie Hall (yellow blend), Here’s Sam (pb), and Mavrik (pb). Floribunda: Bolivar (o/y) by Bob Martin.
Two slow developing maiden roses will also be available – Gold Medal, & The Temptations, both in pots. A number of surplus potted miniatures will also be available in April.

Winterizing Time

Winterizing Time
November is winterizing time for our rose gardens here in Michigan, and in most of the northern states. Those who leave early for the south may need to get it done a bit earlier. Today we are seeing more winter hardy large roses in our landscapes, including Kock Out and Home Run, as well as hardy shrub roses. These may get along without winter protection, but most of our hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas need winter protection if they are to avoid significant winter damage.
The main reason roses suffer winter damage is not the lowness of the winter temperature, but the low moisture content of the winter winds. When the rose canes are frozen, the upward flow of water in the canes is impeded, while the low moisture winds dry out the frozen buds and bark. The result is desiccation (drying), causing death in bark and buds. Applying winter protection does not especially improve the temperature conditions, but they serve as windbreaks to reduce the flow of the drying winds over the rose canes, and reduce excessive drying.
The Bloks, the Wiers, and the Schumakers are local rosarians who use numerous rose cones in their rose winterizing. When you use rose cones, you need to cut back the canes to fit under the 12 to 14 inch high cones. Tying canes with twine is often necessary, unless you cut the canes very low. Cones do not keep the roses warm, in fact it is important to ventilate the cones with 2 to 4 holes (1-inch) near the top of the cones (not in the top surface). Ventilation reduces excess moisture under the cone, and reduces mold damage to the rose canes. When you use rose cones, it is important to have a good supply of bricks or rocks to stabilize the cones (keep them in place). Some use 2 bricks per cone, I usually use one brick on top, and a “name stake” driven through the “ear” of the cone to keep them from blowing away.
Most rosarians who don’t use cones, or don’t have enough, use soil mounds, or wood mulch mounds to cover the base of the plant. I generally use a mulch-soil mix to mound the roses that are too large for cones, or when more cones are not available.
Most of our established miniatures receive no winter protection, but some known tender varieties such as Olympic Gold, and Tiffany Lynn get small cones. Newly started miniatures and miniature cuttings may be protected by milk jug covers and a ring of soil. We usually shelter a few of our newer cuttings in our covered window wells, with varying degrees of success.
Outside potted roses need to be buried in garden soil to a couple of inches above the rim of the pot, or sheltered in a cold outbuilding or garage. Tree roses need to be buried completely in a soil trench, or sheltered in a largely freeze protected building or garage.
We have protected climbing roses with combinations of soil mound and burlap wrap, but this year we plan to cut back the canes to within 2 feet of the ground and apply a soil mound. Most of our climbing roses bloom on 1st year wood, and probably bloom better on new canes than on partially damaged old cane growth..

The President’s Corner

The President’s Corner – By Joan Stoffer
Don’t get tired of “groomin’ the blooms” just yet! There is still an upcoming District show in East Lansing, so get out there in the rose garden and start prepping your pets. It’s too late for disbudding – (sorry Jon Wier – I missed the optimum time—- again). I expect to have a couple hardy souls to exhibit, but alas, no Queens among them.
Today, which is too blustery to work outside, I have chosen to browse through the oldest of the American Rose Annuals in my library (1950). What fun to see who was who in rosedom 61 years ago, and what was being exhibited and winning when I was near starting high school. Dr. William Ayers was ARS President in 1950, and R.C. Allen, editor of the Annual . When Dr. J. Horace McFarland established the first edition of the Annual, around 1916, the ARS numbered only 198 members with a total income of only $1885.90 In 1950, membership was 10,000 and the budget more than $40,000. Among the popular roses of that time were Sutter’s Gold, The Doctor, Ellinor Le Grice, Capistrano, Fashion, Fandango, Gordon Eddie and of course, Peace. Color objectives visualized good lasting yellows and non-bluing reds.
Advice in that era for wintering roses was to mulch with peat moss or—corncobs! Mrs. Dorsett, President of the Norman Rose Society in Norman, OK, was loving a good dust mulch. “I take my garden rake in hand and loosen and stir the good, clean top soil under my higher-than your-head roses; I don’t mean dust like inside on the piano, but about three inches of finely loosened soil as one might expect to find in a well cultivated cornfield – no clods, stick or stones. I haven’t seen a weed among my roses in years.”
Fred Glaes, President of the Reading Rose Society, Reading, PA, was stressing the value of organic matter – a change of diet in the rose garden. His established compost pile consisted of a 6 inch layer of wilted organic matter, such as weeds, leaves, grass, etc. on the ground. Next comes two inches of fresh manure. Cover with one-half inch of clean soil and sprinkle with a very light layer of lime or wood ashes. Water must be applied during construction until the pile is as wet as a squeezed-out sponge. Turn the heap at 3 weeks, 5 weeks, and four weeks later it is ready for use. The bed is then covered with ground corncobs to protect it from the sun, then watered heavily.
Favored insecticides of the time for red spiders , their eggs, and thrips, were parathion and benzene hexachloride. Midge was more persistent and DDT gave better control. Both new chemicals seemed compatible with Fermate and Copper-8 which enables mixing to form an all-purpose spray or dust of superior effectiveness.” Because fatalities have been attributed to parathion poisoning, only a fool will rush in where angels fear to tread – lest there be another angel treading.” Good advice from Ralph Dasher, Florence, Alabama, a chemist professionally as well as a lover of roses.
These are but a few tidbits from the 1950 annual – I could go on and on, but I do want to leave room for the editor to update you on results of the September rose show.

Black Spot

Other Garden Maintenance
The hot, humid weather of late July and early August are ideal growing conditions for black spot fungus. Even though we have been spraying regularly at 1 to 2 week intervals, there is plenty of evidence that black spot lives here, especially on miniatures, and certain susceptible floribundas. I have started to alternate fungicide products, hoping that in may be more effective than using the same fungicide, or fungicide mix for each spraying. There is good news too. Powdery mildew is unusually scarce this summer. Powdery mildew favors cooler, drier growing conditions than we have had.


After the heavy rains of late July, I decided that it was time to re-fertilize. In the last week of July I applied another application of fertilizer to both our lawn, and our rose beds. Since we no longer are using time release fertilizer products, I suspect there is more danger of leaching away during heavy rains.

Deer and Rabbits

We are seeing a lot of rabbits, and only occasional sign of deer this spring. So far I have seen little obvious deer damage to the rose garden. I did apply my first application of deer repellant with my regular fungicide spray on May 21. That was also the day I noticed that four newly planted miniatures had disappeared. I had planted them 3 or 4 days earlier. These were plants of one of my Party Girl seedlings that I had started last fall. They had completely disappeared. Only the name stakes were left standing, no stubble or roots were left. It could have been a deer, but I saw no hoof marks. I suspect a bunny pulled them out, un-established roots and all . I should have sprayed them with the “deer repellant” that has been so effective with my broccoli and bean seedlings this spring..
A possible correction: A woodchuck was spotted in our yard. He may be the baby rose bush puller.

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