GARDENING / How to keep your roses healthy

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The Independent Culture
PLANTING: When planting new roses in an old rose bed, change the soil to avoid the condition known as 'rose sickness', caused by a depletion of the nutrients the plants need. Put plenty of compost and other organic matter round the holes, and plant the roses in a mixture of soil and peat, laced with bonemeal. Water the rose in and make sure that the grafting point - the protuberance above the root - is not buried.

FEEDING: Keep the bed free from weeds. Apply a proprietary rose fertilizer in spring, a week or two after pruning, and again just before flowering. A mulch of shredded bark or compost will keep weeds down and retain the moisture, so you will not have to water so often.

PRUNING: Hybrid teas and floribundas should be pruned to about six inches above the ground after planting. Every subsequent spring, cut back at least half their growth. Climbers, ramblers, patio and ground cover roses need hardly any pruning except the removal of dead wood, or trimming to keep them to the shape and size you want.

DISEASES AND PESTS: The main fungal diseases are black spot (the spot is on the leaves, not the flowers) and powdery mildew, a white mould on leaves and buds. Spray with Benlate or a proprietary rose fungicide every few weeks throughout the season. Canker (a vivid brown blotch low on the stem) and rust (red speckles on the leaves) are rarer but more serious.

Affected parts of the plant must be removed and burnt. Greenfly and other pests on

the leaves and bud stalks can be controlled

with normal garden insecticides, organic or chemical - or by crushing them by hand, if you catch them early enough.