Calif. ó Lance Walheim has heard plenty of
head-scratching questions about roses. Heís not
surprised. After all, he wrote the best-selling guide
book "Roses for Dummies."
No. 1 mistake people make with roses is improper
watering," said Walheim, author of more than 30
gardening books. "I keep running into people who
water every day, or their roses are watered from lawn
sprinklers. Itís time to change."
lot has changed in the rose world since the second
edition of his book was published in 2000. Hundreds of
varieties have been introduced, including a whole
category of easy-care roses that was practically unknown
when "Roses for Dummies" debuted in 1997.
into any (home improvement center) and youíll find
lots of Earth-Kind, Knockout or other easy-care
roses," he said. "Itís getting hard to find
not just the available varieties that have changed.
During the recession, growers and wholesale nurseries
underwent major upheaval, forever changing the rose
the national gardening expert for Bayer Advanced, makes
his home in the heart of Californiaís rose country
where acres and acres of bushes are field grown for
nurseries. He lives on a citrus ranch in Exeter near
seems like all we talk about is water," he said of
the statewide drought. "Weíre in a situation
where weíre trying to save every drop while also
trying to save our plants."
he frets over his mandarins and blood oranges, Walheim
isnít too worried about his roses.
lot of people donít realize how tough roses are,"
he said. "At most, my roses get watered once a
week. A lot of times, they get by with a lot less."
varieties such as Iceberg tend to do the best with less
water, he added. The Earth-Kind series of landscape
roses do very well with irrigation only twice a month.
has experimented to find the answer to one basic
question: "Do you apply less water at each
irrigation or do you stretch the time between
watering?" he said. "The interesting thing Iíve
noticed is that the roses do better with deep watering.
Water less often, but make sure you do it right ó get
the water down to the roots.
a drought situation, roses will get by on deep watering
once a month," Walheim said. "They learn to
accept less. They may not flower as much, you might not
get as many roses, but youíll still have roses."
need water to produce flowers, Walheim noted. "Even
the landscape roses; if you want to keep them blooming,
you need to keep them hydrated. By cutting back (water),
the bloom cycle takes longer ó eight weeks instead of
six. But you want to slow them down in a drought."
Walheim still recommends fertilizing roses (usually
every six weeks during bloom season), he suggests
cutting back on rose food, too, with longer intervals
donít want to prompt too much new growth," he
said. "Cut back on pruning, too; let the hips form
in summer. That will slow them down when they need the
foliage is particularly susceptible to drought stress,
he added. "It transpires (loses water) much
recommends mulch ó preferably bark, wood chips or
other organic material, not rocks ó to help maintain
soil moisture and keep rose roots comfortable.
on the lookout for pests," he urged. "Drought
stresses plants, and thatís when pests attack and when
you need to apply pest control. This could be a bad
summer for bugs."