With the mild weather we are having, roses are looking pretty good. The bushes in my garden are still blooming and there are many buds still to open. Because of where we live and knowing that winter rains will soon be upon us, I like to encourage gardeners to enjoy their garden while they can.
While Portland is known as the “City of Roses”, roses are grown throughout the Pacific Northwest and generally they are a relatively easy blooming shrub to care for. Whereas in the past, roses tended to have a reputation as high maintenance, but with many of the new introductions, disease issues have been eliminated or at least greatly reduced. The photo on right, Knock Out rose from the garden of Rich Baer is highly resistant to the disease black spot.
Roses do tend to like a less acidic pH than we usually have and the addition of lime can help correct this. If you have not applied lime to your roses for 2-3 years, it is probably time to do so. One of the most important things you can do for your roses and other plants as well is to have a soil test to help determine what nutrients your soil is lacking and what the pH is.
I talked with Rich Baer of Portland about the addition of lime for roses. Rich is a past president of the Portland Rose Society and in his rose garden of approximately 1,000 bushes, he often trials new roses for companies before they appear in our local garden centers. Rich emphasized the need for a soil test to determine if lime is actually needed but said in his experiences, for the western part of the state, it usually does. Rich likes to use Calpril because it is prilled limestone and much easier to handle and spread than powdered formulations of lime. Calpril is calcium carbonate, and it is not a fertilizer, but rather acts to help decrease the acidity of our soils and increases the availability of some nutrients. Rich adds about one cup per rose bush and lightly works it into the soil. Now is an ideal time to apply lime, work it lightly into the soil and then let the fall rains carry it to the root zone.
If you would like to learn more about some of the best roses for our climate, Rich will be speaking at the October meeting of the Portland Rose Society. This is also a good time to mingle with other rose gardeners and learn what their best roses are. Portland Rose Society, Monday, October 15, Oaks Park Dance Pavilion, (east end of the Sellwood Bridge), 7:30 pm. This meeting free and open to all and you need not be a member of the Portland Rose Society to attend.