What To Do In February

Pruning: Pruning your roses should be completed by early February. Make sure you remove all leaves. For more information on pruning, CLICK HERE.

Once you’re done pruning, be sure to clean up all dead leaves and throw them in the trash, not your compost pile. Dead leaves may harbor mildew spores and other diseases that can infest your compost pile and create problems later on.

For a climbing rose, cut out small, twiggy branches and leave nice, long canes behind. You can then gently pull these long canes to a horizontal position to expose more of the canes to the sun which will produce more blooms. Zip ties work great for tying canes down. Simply tie around the support structure and canes in strategic spots to support the plant.

Seal the end of pruned canes with a dab of carpenter’s glue to protect against cane borers.

First Feeding Of Year For Established Bushes: One week after pruning is completed, apply a handful each of alfalfa meal (can purchase 25-pound bags from O.K. Feed Supply), Epsom Salts (any drug store) and Milorganite (Ace Hardware) sprinkled on the soil of each plant. Then water these products in.

Fertilizer Strategy: There are two types of rose growers in Tucson. One is the casual gardener who is happy with average roses. Then you have the hard-core grower who is after the biggest and best roses possible. Here is what you do for both.

Casual Gardener: From mid-February to the end of April, fertilize every two weeks with Magnum Rose Food (1 TBSP to 1 gallon of water) on the soil of each plant. Contact Kevin Callaghan at Triple A Fertilizer (520) 861-4732. A 25-pound bag will cost about $30. 

Hard Core Grower: From mid-February to the end of April, fertilize every week. On week one, fertilize with Magnum Rose Food (1 TBSP to 1 gallon of water) on the soil of each plant. On week two, fertilize with Alaska Fish Fertilizer (1 TBSP to 1 gallon of water) on the soil of each plant. Then alternate every week up to the end of April. Alaska Fish Fertilizer (5-1-1) can be obtained at Lowe’s in one quart or one gallon containers or Walmart.

Spraying Chemicals: There are 2 camps in rose growing – those who absolutely refuse to spray chemicals (for many reasons) and others who utilize chemical sprays to prevent damage to their plants from fungus diseases and insects. If you are in the first camp, don’t read any further.

Those who want perfect roses, read on. Prior to spraying any chemicals on your garden, you first should purchase several products to protect your body. A respirator that goes over your nose and mouth is important that will allow two organic vapor cartridges to be screwed on.

Tucson Medical and Supply has a full line of respirators for sale along with cartridges rated for organic vapors. You also can purchase both products on the internet. Eye protection is important as well as skin protection (protective clothing and chemical resistant gloves).

The 4 chemicals recommended to spray can be purchased on the internet at www.domyownpestcontrol.com  for reasonable prices.

Brandt Indicate 5 ($30 a quart): This adjuvant allows you to condition the water prior to putting in other chemicals so it has a pH of 5.0 which is ideal for the products you will use. It also has a wetting agent that will allow all chemicals in the solution to spread over surfaces smoothly without it congregating in areas which could burn foliage and blooms.

Honor Guard PPZ ($30 a pint): This fungicide keeps problems from developing such as mildew. Rarely does Tucson have any other fungus issue other than mildew.

Merit 75 WP ($36 for 2 ounces): This fine powder goes a long way with minimal amounts being utilized. It is great for aphids and thrips, the two biggest problems for roses in Tucson.

Acephate 97 Up ($22 for 1 pound): This powder will stop aphids and thrips in their tracks.

Spray Roses Weekly Feb. 1 – April 15: It is important to spray your roses early in the morning for several reasons. First, there is usually little wind which means spray drift doesn’t come back at you. Second, there are few birds or bees that are active at the crack of dawn. And third, the neighbors and their pets are usually not out at this time. 

Prior to spraying, make sure you bring inside any pets, pet food, water containers and hummingbird feeders — anything that animals or birds may drink or eat that spray drift may fall on. Be smart about spraying. 

Pour fresh water in a 1 or 2 gallon bucket. Then mix in the following chemicals per label directions. 

Week 1: Indicate 5, Honor Guard PPZ, Acephate 97 Up. 

Week 2: Indicate 5, Merit 75 WP. Then alternate week 1 and week 2 every 7 days up to the middle of April. At that point, no chemical spraying is needed through the summer.

Only wash off your plants with a spray of water. For more information, read what to do in May.

If you have additional questions, please try to attend our meetings where we always feature timely help, and experts are on hand with answers.65