What To Do In September

The month of September is a transition month from the searing temperatures of summer to lower temperatures, especially mornings.

Add More Soil: On Sept. 1, add more potting soil to roses in containers, if needed. The ideal potting soil is 4 parts Kellogg’s Patio Plus potting soil (can be purchased from Home Depot or Lowe’s), 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite mixed well in a wheelbarrow. The top of the soil should be approximately 2 inches from the top of the container.

Milorganite: On Sept. 1, put one handful of Milorganite gray granules (can purchase at Ace Hardware) on the soil of each plant.  

Water, Water, Water: It is still vital to water your roses as much as they need it. For established rose bushes in pots, this means watering every day. For roses in the ground, you may be able to get away with watering once every other day.

While you can water any time of day, it is recommended that you water late in the afternoon after 5 p.m. which allows for less evaporation. Also, it is advisable to put potted plants and those in the ground in an area that receives afternoon shade (after 2 p.m.).

Spray Off Roses Daily With Water: The No.1 enemy of roses during the summer in Tucson is spider mites. These tiny creatures, which look like small salt-and-pepper particles under leaves, will suck the leaves dry until they turn light brown and fall off. Keeping as much foliage on your plants is crucial to rose health during the summer.

Every morning, spray off your roses with a jet of water supplied by a Fogg-It nozzle (heavy volume, 4 gallons per minute) attached to your water hose. You can purchase this great nozzle on the Internet for about $10. Make sure you spray underneath the leaves of the plant. By doing this daily, this will prevent spider mites from getting started. The added benefit is adding humidity to your garden which is vital in Tucson’s arid summer conditions.

Last Day To Spray Off Roses With Water – Sept. 14. The only downside to spraying your plants daily with water month after month during the summer are white spots that develop on foliage because of Tucson’s hard water. To allow for perfect looking new foliage that grows out of leaf axils after you lightly trim your roses (see below), discontinue your daily water spray on plants Sept. 14. 

Lightly Trim Your Roses: After a summer of intense heat, all rose plants need a light trimming to set the stage for spectacular November blooms. This IS NOT the heavy pruning of plants that you perform in late January. First, cut out all dead canes from the summer. Next, you want to cut a maximum of 1/3 off the top of each plant as you cut to pencil thick canes. But you ONLY do this if you have plenty of foliage left on the plant after the trimming.

If you see that the end result will be no foliage on a plant or very little, DO NOT TRIM THE PLANT AT ALL. If you don’t heed this important advice, you will probably kill your plant. What typically happens when a rose is cut back in this fashion with no foliage is that canes turn black near the soil. The dying, black plant cells move up the canes over the next few weeks as the plant slowly dies. The safest strategy is to simply leave such plants alone and not trim them at all in the fall.

When To Trim Roses: The third weekend of September is a great time to lightly trim back your roses. You will enjoy a bounty of roses in November when the weather is cooling off.  

Fertilizers To Purchase: There are 3 important fertilizers to purchase for fall applications. They include Magnum Rose Food (8-10-8), Alaska Fish Fertilizer and alfalfa meal. The most economical place in Tucson to purchase Magnum Rose Food is Triple A Fertilizer at about $30 per 25 pound bag. Call Kevin on his cell phone at (520) 861-4732 to arrange a pickup at his facility.

This fertilizer is without question the best to use for rose growing. It was designed by chemist and internationally acclaimed rose grower Dr. Tommy Cairns from Studio City, Calif. and has all the elements needed to grow big roses with rich color.

Another product you want to add at this time is alfalfa meal. This product stimulates new growth in your roses with a chemical called triacontanol. You can purchase alfalfa meal at OK Feed & Supply (Ft. Lowell and Dodge) for about $20 for a 50-pound bag.

The final product to consider using is Alaska Fish Fertilizer. It can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart.

Fertilization Schedules: 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: On Sept. 8, apply alfalfa meal to the soil of your roses (about 1 cup per large, established rose plant and 1/2 cup for large, established mini roses). From Sept. 15 to the middle of November, fertilize every two weeks with Magnum Rose Food (1 TBSP to 1 gallon of water) on the soil of each plant. All roses should be well watered after 5 p.m. the day prior. 

Hard Core Grower: On Sept. 8, apply alfalfa meal to the soil of your roses (about 1 cup per large, established rose plant and 1/2 cup for large, established mini roses). From Sept. 15 to the middle of November, 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 middle of November. All roses should be well watered after 5 p.m. the day prior. 

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

Brandt Indicate 5 (about $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 (about $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 (about $36 for 2-ounce jar): 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.

Acephate 97 Up (about $25 for 1 pound bag): This powder will stop aphids and thrips in their tracks.

Chemically Spray Roses Weekly Starting Sept. 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. Plus, there is no chance your plants will be burned by spray chemicals. If you opt to spray in the afternoon, serious burn damage on plants could take place if it is 100 degrees.

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 November.

Think About Ordering Roses: If you are interested in mail ordering new rose plants for your yard, look at different outlets on the internet such as Wisconsin Roses, K&M Roses, Regan Nursery in California, Edmunds, Rogue Valley Roses, Jackson & Perkins and others. Make sure you have them delivered from November-January (no later). November is ideal. We will discuss what to do with bare root roses in November.