New to roses...want to go organic.

terrisoflaJuly 7, 2007

I'm so glad I found this forum and am hoping you can help me grow roses organically in South Florida (Fort Lauderdale). I just bought 3 rose bushes, one that was suggested as a good one for the south, Don Juan, and two that I went rose crazy over in a local store, Queen Elizabeth and Peace. I haven't planted the later two yet, but will do that today. I have done lots of reading on where to plant and what to start out with in the planting hole, so I think I'm OK on that part. What I am looking for is a list of organic sprays and their recipes for black spot (seen on my Don Juan one week after planting). I have read about milk, but not sure of the milk/water ratio, baking soda (also not sure of mixture), some oil sprays including fish emulsion, and manure tea as a foliar spray. I have placed some cut grass under the Don Juan as a mulch, and am getting ready to go out and pick off the leaves with the spots on them. I started a year and a half ago planting things that would bring beneficial insects to my yard and I have access to fresh horse manure (a 5 hp factory in my back yard) and lots of grass cuttings. Would love a list with recipes that explains which is least toxic.

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I wish I could help you with home made recipes, but don't know any...

I've been using Neptune's Harvest fish/ seaweed as a foliar drench, and I think it has helped to keep the foliage healthy and green.

I will be supplementing my foliar drenching by trying some other tea products as well.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:03PM
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I might have phrased the last sentence wrong: I will be trying other liquid organic products for a foliar drench, not sure if they are specifically teas or not.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Just got a book from the library that says to use 1 part milk to 9 parts water, so I guess I'll try that. Sounds like things from the sea (fish emulsion and seaweed) are good for roses. I need to look for them in the store.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 4:55PM
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I would recommend The Organic Rose Garden, Liz Druitt.

Lots of great stuff in there.

I have some BS on most of my roses. Almost all roses get it in hot humid areas. Try different selections until you get the best one's for your ares.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 11:34PM
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Thanks for the book recommendation. I like one of the books I got from the library called Growing Roses Organically by Barbara Wilde. I wanted to get some good recommendations or try to get from the library before purchasing. This author recommends lots of old roses with foreign names and origins. Many of them I can't find on the internet, and when I do finally find one it's usually sold out. Frustrating...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 9:55PM
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I used to grow roses organically in central Florida, and I can say that it is a lot tougher there than in most other parts of the country. First of all, modern roses (such as Don Juan, QE, and Peace) need to be grafted onto Fortuniana rootstock to thive in south Florida because of the soil nematodes. Secondly, the varieties you have chosen have little disease resistance. Organic sprays can help some, but none of them will effectively protect disease-prone roses in south Florida. Old-fashioned chinas and teas (not hybrid teas like Peace) are a different story. Many of them can be grown organically in Florida. See the link for suggestions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Starnes on Florida Roses

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:01PM
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The biggest thing is to select roses that do well in your area. Here in the PNW I would go to the Miller Library great plant picks. I lived in Texas previously and would send anyone there to the Antique Rose Emporium. Not sure what to do in Florida. Try the regional board on here to get more advice.

Also, try to get used to some BS. they almost all get it to some extent.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 7:17PM
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I have been an organic grower my whole life. I am in my 50's.
feel free to email me.

Anytime you place any type of mulch you create...make sure it is fairly dried out or it could burn up your plants as it is breaking down...due to heat.

Dissolve one teaspoon of BS in 1 quart (8oz.) of warm water. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap (I like ivory due to simple/mild). Spray throughly and all over and the under side of leaves (very important).

The Cornell Recipe is:
2 tablespoons of fine horticulture oil
1 tablespoon mild liquid soap
1 heaping tablespoon BS

I personally have adopted Neem Oil the Dyna-Grow brand. It is all natural, and it gets ride of everything and is not harmful to your beneficial friends in the garden.

I take 32oz. of water and mix two small caps (from the 8oz. jug) of Neem and then add around a half teaspoon of Ivory liquid. My roses are beautiful and thriving. Check out the for information

I do not use BS anymore. I just use the neem. The guy that pushes the Cornell recipe, Field Roebuck is a Neem pusher also. Once every 2 weeks or so I use Rose Defense and spray. Another organic product.

Though I am not as all natural as I used to be, I will actually buy organic made supplies these days but i used to make everything. Because I never used chemicals and I understand the devastation of chemicals, I can honestly say you will have beautiful roses and garden if you go organic. and it is easy.

One good book to have for most of your insect and disease issues is (and you will have them):

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control

It is from the Rodale Press and costs around $20. It will be one of the best $20 you ever spend. It came out in the 90's and it is a treasure.
Happy Growing,

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 8:37PM
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Try the china roses, mutabilis first of all: in your climate I guess it might bloom all the year through! It is very disease resistant

PS: Lavender helps a bit in "scaring away" some parasites from nearby roses, they do not like the smell.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:04PM
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"Neem Oil the Dyna-Grow brand. It is all natural, and it gets ride of everything and is not harmful to your beneficial friends in the garden" is not a true statement. Neem products may not immediately kill every insect but it does, in many, cause them to stop feeding which results in death, eventually, can cause larva to stop growing, and not just the pest species, can cause others to stop breeding, both the unwanted pests and the beneficials.
A true organic gardener/farmer will not grab any pesticide at the first sign of an insect but instead will look for the least toxic means of control available and use that.
For what its worth Neem products are "chemicals".

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 6:57AM
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Below is a link to a nursery in West Palm Beach that carries moderns on Fortuniana. They have a few OGRs too. From what I have read Fort is the only way to go in S. Florida. Other rootstocks only last a few years - literally, so it's almost like buying annuals. I have two Don Juans in Fort, 1st year, growing well, but they do get BS. Not much doesn't here in the summer - and other times, too! There are several mail-order nurseries online that carry Old Garden Roses and more modern ones, too, on their own roots. A few of the Chinas are foolproof as far as the rootstock is concerned; they don't mind our nematodes. In fact, Louis Philippe (go to: is called The Florida Rose. These roses don't look like what you'd expect - different flower & bush shapes, but they stay healthy here and are everblooming (with pauses) & evergreen. Tea Roses are fairly long-lived here on their own roots - I've heard ten years is not unusual. Also, this is going to sound funny but the nematodes don't like cement, so if you plant own-roots next to foundations, driveways, sidewalks, etc, it's an advantage. They don't like organic matter also, so I have greatly amended my very sandy soil. Hopefully, I'll get some years out of my roses this way. I have many more own-root than Fort rootstock so my fingers are crossed.

You can Google these nurseries: Ashdown in SC, Roses Unlimited in SC, Antique Rose Emporium in TX, Vintage Gardens in CA (they're having a sale now), Chamblees in TX and others. They're all very reputable, I have ordered from all of them.

When you move beyond Teas, Tea-Noisettes, Noisettes and Chinas, you need to do further research. Some are not well suited for our heat, humidity, lack of dormancy, heavy BS pressure, ad infinitum. But these are beautiful roses - just different from the type you find at the florist.

As to organic concoctions I really don't have any. The milk didn't work, the baking soda didn't work, the vinegar didn't work, and regular spraying is not my cup of tea. So I am going for disease-resistance in my rose selection. And even then it's trial and error and how much BS can you tolerate. Some can look past a lot, some can't. But yellow leaves either constantly or from time to time are a given on roses in Florida. The really ugly-BS-prone roses you just want to do without because beautiful blooms on bare canes aren't that beautiful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cool Roses

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:01PM
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