Powdery Mildew, alfalfa hay, pellets, and meal

strawchicago(zone 5a)August 13, 2014

In my previous rose-garden of acidic clay and neutral tap water ... zero mildew on my roses. In my current garden of alkaline heavy clay and pH 8.3 hard-well water, no mildew until I stressed 3 of my roses by giving them acidic fertilizer high in nitrogen, NPK 10-5-4. High nitrogen chemicals also have the highest salt-index.

All 3 of my gallon-size-roses: Mary Magdalene, Pat Austin, and Radio Times broke out in mildew, and did not improve no matter how much tap-water given. Back then, I didn't know about calcium hydroxide in alkaline-tap binds up with potassium & phosphorus & trace elements.

The mildew went away after I scraped off the high salt, high-nitrogen, high acid fertilizer (with sulfur). Green Cure or potassium bicarbonate is effective in treating mildew, to be sprayed on leaves, with pH 8.2. It also supplies potassium. Drawback? it's high in salt.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia on potassium bicarbonate: " Potassium bicarbonate is an effective fungicide against powdery mildew and apple scab, allowed for use in organic farming, Potassium bicarbonate has widespread use in crops, especially for neutralizing acidic soil."

I achieved the same result, but with less salt, when I fixed the mildew on my pots with gritty lime and sulfate of potash, after 1-week of rain. I see potassium bicarbonate, or Green Cure, as effective to spray on leaves ... but the salt content is not appropriate to douse soil with.

I used alfalfa meal for 3 years. Here are the pros: 1) fast growth, lush & shiny & healthy leaves. The cons: 1) Very dusty, bad for lungs & allergies. 2) Very stinky, strong barnyard odor. 3) attract dogs, chipmunks like to dig up 4) its fine-particle glued up with my clay into concrete.

I'm testing alfalfa hay. Here are the pros: 1) growth is good, clean & healthy foliage. Topping with that stuff promote earth-worms underneath, plus promote nitrogen-fixing bacteria. 2) Almost no smell, smell like grass if you stick your nose really close 3) much cheaper, $8 for a big bale

The cons of alfalfa hay: 1) Messy looking with that stringy hay on top 2) Absolutely awful when mixed in the planting hole, can't break up heavy clay like cracked corn nor gypsum. I'll ask the feed-store to special-order Standlee alfalfa pellets (no salt & no sugar), will report.

Below are gallon-size white Mary Magdalene, orange Pat Austin, and pink Radio Times with mildew after acid-fertilizer high in nitrogen & salt was applied. Picture taken more than 3 years ago, when they were tiny own-roots:

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Cure or Potassium Bicarbonate for mildew

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strawchicago(zone 5a)

My feed store carries Standlee Timothy pellets, but they will special-order Standlee Alfalfa pellets for me. It's sold at Tractor Supply Site at 40 lbs. for $12.99.

So glad to turn down Timothy pellets, after reading that it doesn't have calcium nor vitamin E like alfalfa, plus Timothy grass seeds are much more aggressive than alfalfa seeds. The pellets do contain seeds of both types, but less dusty, and less stinky than alfalfa meal.

The reviews of Standlee alfalfa pellets are very good: folks use that to fertilizer daylilies & veggies. Here's one review from the below Tractor Supply site:
RickRS · 9 months ago
Excellent organic garden soil builder

"Used to improve the extremely sandy soil here in NW Florida for some raised bed vegetable plots in a community garden. Going by seat-of-the-plants, added 80 lbs (two sacks) of alfalfa pellets to a 4 x 10 foot bed that's 8 inches deep. Dug in well then watered a week before planting to help start the pellet to breakdown. My two beds are growing like crazy, and the other gardeners are just blown away by my results.

Researching, I find that alfalfa has a N-P-K value of 2-0.5-2, and is slow release, with 25% of the nitrogen available the first season. It will release lots of trace minerals, making it a complete organic fertilizer all by itself." RickRS

**** From Straw: Below are Francis Blaise, Liv Tyler, and Pink Peace roses, fertilized with alfalfa meal and horse manure. Picture was taken in late October, you can see the dead tomato branches on the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: Standlee no-salt, no-sugar alfafla pellets

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:18PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Bayourose left you a thank you Strawberryhill in the "bouquet of No Spray roses" thread.
I forgot about Greencure. I tried that once for BS but no luck. But like you said it should work on PM.
I may purchase some Green Cure in case any of our newer roses break out in mildew next year.
Mildew normally is not a problem here at all as we only had 1 rose get it.
Matter of fact I've never seen mildew here on any kind of plant in the 20 years I've lived here.
SO it sort of put me in shock that Thomas Affleck had PM so badly all season long...

Great rose pics Strawberryhill I like the orange of Pat Austin :-)
All your leaves look nice & healthy!

This post was edited by jim1961 on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 14:24

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 1:24PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

I was reading an article somewhere that when Powdery Mildew attacks it really likes fresh new leaves so it would really love a rose bush with lots of new growth from high nitrogen.

I did not even fertilize Thomas Affleck and he was attacked severely by PM...
But he was growing a lot of new leaves to replace all the ones that fell off from BS when he first arrived here.

I was wondering how you made out with that Alfalfa Hay Strawberryhill...

I never even heard of Standlee Timothy pellets but thanks for the heads up on them.

I will not be using anything but compost for our in ground roses since all the roses I did not fertilize did real well this year but I will be using store bought fertilizer for our Tomato plants and container roses. I have a giant bag of Alfalfa Meal left in which I will use up.
I found the Dr Earth 5-5-5 seemed to work best on our tomato plants so far. We got so many tomatoes this year some stems actually started breaking from all the weight of the tomatoes...lol

I think I'm going to try Tomato tone next year and see how that does as I can buy that local..

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:38PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: I checked the ingredients of Dr. Earth fertilizer for veggies and its FAR BETTER than Tomato Tone. I'll list the ingredients in Dr. Earth first:

"Fish bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, fish meal, potassium sulfate, humic acid, seaweed extract and seven strains of Pro-Biotic beneficial soil microbes, PLUS Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae."

Here's the ingredients in Tomato Tone: "Feather meal, chicken manure, bone meal, alfalfa meal, green sand, humates, sulfate of potash, gypsum, plus 3 types of soil bacteria." Only advantage: sold at Walmart.

Potassium sulfate is another name for sulfate of potash. But Dr. Earth has more expensive ingredients such as Kelp Meal, sea weed extract, soft rock phosphate ... these give more trace elements, plus endo and ecto Mycorrhizae beneficial fungi.

Honestly I'm disappointed with Tomato-Tone NPK 3-4-6: too many leaves on my tomatoes, and not enough fruits. Plus the leaves are pale, from lack of trace elements.

My other bed with Jobes' Organic Tomato NPK 2-7-4 have double-the fruit ... Jobes has endo & ecto Mycorrhizae like Dr. Earth. I also use Pennington tea (with kelp meal) on this bed, resulting in much darker-green leaves.

Next year I'll try Dr. Earth to get darker-green leaves on both tomatoes and roses. Thanks, Jim, for that tip.

Sonia Rykiel rose is always pale in my soil, but blooms well. To achieve darker green leaves, I used Pennington Alaska Tea (with Kelp meal): high-quality spring blooms. The bush is sparse in leaves after blooming, so I used blood meal. It sat there doing nothing, so I used Milorganite: WORST BLACKSPOT ever, from the salt and high iron of that sewage-sludge. Sonia Rykiel always get rain-barrel water, it's my favorite.

I used Encap dry compost. It sat there doing nothing. Then I topped with a wad of alfalfa hay. Here's the result on one branch:

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr. Good Earth NPK 5-7-3 at $8.5 for 4 lbs.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 18:39

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:36PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I pH-tested alfalfa-meal before, it was pinkish in red-cabbage juice, around pH 6. The reported pH of alfalfa meal, by an official site, is pH 5.7. That's correct, because I topped pots with alfalfa meal before, to get black spots even on the most disease-resistant rose: Annie L. McDowell, plus the worst BS ever on Comte de Chambord. Alfalfa meal stays wet longer, it acts like an acidic, sticky glue on top ... great for fungi-germination.

I pH-tested alfalfa HAY today, and let it sit for 1/2 hour. The red-cabbage juice turned slightly brownish, but retained its purplish color. My conclusion: alfalfa hay is a buffer, it neutralizes pH. Alfalfa HAY is very different fro alfalfa meal: The meal stinks to the high-heavens, the HAY has zero odor. When I soaked the HAY in hot cabbage-juice ... the tea smells good, better than brewing green-tea.

Anything grinded to flour and dusty like alfalfa meal would "sour" faster, or ferment faster ... thus the lower pH. The growth rate? It's a bit slower than alfalfa meal, but the plant is much healthier. I don't see any matting down, since I break up the hay into thin sheets and use a shovel to shove that in.

My experience with lawn-grass-clippings is the same: the fresher, the better. U. of Connecticut documented the release of nitrogen from FRESH grass-clipping is less than a month. One year I dumped grass-clippings and let it decompose over the fall & winter. In spring time they matted down, stank up, and my tomatoes got "wet-feet" and came down with fungal disease "verticullum wilt" that destroyed the entire crop.

The next year I raked FRESH grass-clipping in, 2 weeks before planting tomatoes: BUMPER CROP and super-healthy tomatoes. For freshness, alfalfa hay would be top choice, then as things got broken further down, it gets stinkier: alfalfa pellets, then worst is alfalfa meal.

Yves seedling went through the same as Sonia Rykiel ... plus poor drainage, with 90% loss of leaves from black spots. Nothing worked, so I scraped off everything: lime, blood meal, Milorganite, Encap dry compost. Then I put a wad of alfalfa hay on top. Immediate new growth within a week, very healthy leaves. See picture below.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:02PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I can't locate the picture of Love Ya Dad mini-rose, but I posted that mini-rose with a 3-day growth from alfalfa meal, which you can see from below link in HMF. My username in HMF is "Chicago IL 5a"

Alfafal hay's growth is a bit slower than alfalfa meal, but much healthier in the long run, since the hay stays dry on top, and does not glue up like fine-particle alfalfa meal.

Here is a link that might be useful: Love Ya Dad rose's growth from alfalfa meal

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:12PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

My best late-fall fertilization was done by mixing horse manure with alfalfa meal, plus peat moss (to neutralize horse manure high pH of 8). Then I winterize roses with that soil mixture. Super healthy spring flush, here's Bolero:

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:28PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's Wise Portia, an Austin rose: topped with horse manure mixed with alfalfa meal .. it's healthy like that until winter hit.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:30PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's Mary Magdalene (top bush) and Marie Pavie (lower bush). Both have dark green leaves, from the trace elements in horse manure mixed with alfalfa meal:

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:32PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's Francis Blaise, tons of buds in spring ... I didn't fertilize in spring, but I fertilized in late fall with horse manure mixed with alfalfa meal & peat moss.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:34PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Strawberryhill, I did not use Dr Earth for veggies.
I used Dr Earth "Life" 5-5-5 pellets which can be worked into the soil or just tossed on top of soil.
I worked the pellets into the soil when I planted the tomato plants. That's all I did all season.
Got lots of tomatoes!

But you could try Dr Earth for veggies but I never used it so I can not say how good it would work...

If I can find some Alfalfa Hay I will try it as a mulch...
I will have to call our feed store tomorrow...

I put grass under our Viburnum bush every year but only once per season and that's in April and yes it stinks....lol


I try not to get to concerned about leaves here unless they are showing a nutrient deficiency of some kind.

Now that excludes BS which makes the leaves fall off that I do not like! lol

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr Earth

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:36PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's Pat Austin, also fertilized in late fall with horse manure mixed with alfalfa meal: note the shiny foliage from vitamin E in alfalfa meal. I didn't fertilize that spring.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:36PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's Sonia Rykiel rose, lush & lots of leaves from alfalfa meal mixed with horse manure (late-fall fertilization before the ground freezes).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:40PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Horse manure, alfalfa meal, and (peatmoss) does sound like a fine late-fall fertilization program.
Bolero looks super healthy!

Wise Portia looks great from horse manure & alfalfa meal!

Magdalene and Marie Pavie leaves look fantastic Straw!

Francis Blaise has a ton of buds! That's what we want!

I like the orange of Pat Austin! Great looking leaves on that bush too!

SO what late-fall fertilization program you using this year Straw???

My first post I posted when you were posting pics of your roses. Its mixed in with your rose pics if you want to read it...

It explains I used DR. EARTH "LIFE" Fertilizer on our tomato plants and NOT Dr. Earth for veggies...

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr Earth

This post was edited by jim1961 on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 22:04

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:51PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Thank you for the link to the Dr. Earth you are using, same ingredients as the other one, except for the addition of Bat Guano. With Ebola threat (linked to the fruit bat), I'm going to test Dr. Earth for veggies NPK 5-7-3 WITHOUT the bat guano. I water with sulfate of potash, so that will UP the potassium ratio.

My late fall fertilization this year? I'm NOT impressed with the chicken-manure NPK 5-3-2, so I go back to what I did in previous years: horse manure and alfalfa pellets (instead of alfalfa meal). I won't put peat moss (pH 4), since my roses are older, and they secreted plenty of acid.

I pH-test the soil of roses killed last coldest winter, and they tested either neutral (clear in red-cabbage juice), or slightly pinkish (slightly acidic). Horse manure with lime added to a pH of 8 is a blessing, since it buffers the acidic rain, at pH 6 in my Chicagoland, but East coast rain is much more acidic at pH 5.6.

Alfalfa has plenty of calcium, same with horse manure, so I won't need to use gritty lime to buffer the acidic rain. Hubby will pick up Standlee no-salt alfalfa pellets this Friday, will report the result. Hopefully I can get some composted horse manure this weekend. More rain to come.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:22AM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

I've heard of people putting down alfalfa pellets then after a rain the pellets would swell and cause a goopy mess on the soil.
But I'm not sure how they applied the pellets exactly or how much.
Just be cautious Straw...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:39AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: You are right about the pellets swell up to a sticky mess .. I see that with Pennington Alaska pellets (made of alfalfa & fish bone & sulfate of potash). I definitely MIX the pellets with horse manure like I did previous years with alfalfa meal.

Previous years of using three 50 lb. bags of alfalfa meal? It was dusty, stinky, so I won't use that stuff again. Pennington Alaska pellets are clean & low-odor, so I hope Standlee 100% alfalfa pellets are the same.

About alfalfa hay: it's VERY MESSY on the ground at 1st, but after a week, it shrinks down and less messy. The more I research on horse feed, the more I realize I can't do without horse manure, thanks to the zinc and copper added to horse's diet for shiny coat of hair.

The best rose gardens I had visited? One next to a horse stable, 100% healthy, even during 100 deg. summer heat and drought. The other belonged to a friend, who owned a horse, her roses have huge blooms & many petals, plus shiny & glossy leaves. I don't see that shiny & glossy foliage at the rose park (they spray every 10 days), nor another private garden that sprays every 2 weeks.

Below is Crimson Glory rose with 2 cups of alfalfa meal mixed with 2 gallon potting soil. The blooms are high quality with many petals, pretty good for a tiny young band. I topped the pot with horse manure. Picture taken 3 years ago:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 11:12

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:10AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I tried too many fertilizers to list, and the highest quality blooms, with the most petals, belong to horse manure & alfalfa approach. Sulfate of potash promotes blooming on stingy roses, but too much of that make it LESS PETALS, and bleached-out colors.

Below is Francis Blaise bloom, fertilized with horse manure and mixed with alfalfa meal to produce the most petals. The leaves were also shiny and glossy:

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:26AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Here's EQUIDAE alfalfa-pellets sold at my local feed store, it has zinc & copper & Omega-3 fatty acids, plus beneficial Lacto. Acidophilus bacteria added .. one drawback: it has salt. Otherwise I would had bought it for zinc, copper, and selenium antifungal nutrients. That's a future experiment !!

Crude Protein 15.00%

Crude Fat 7.00%

Crude Fiber 12.00%

Calcium 0.75%

Phosphorus 0.55%

Salt 0.40%

Copper 28.00 ppm

Zinc 110.00 ppm

Selenium 0.50 mg/kg

Vitamin A 3,300 IU/lb.

Lactobacillus acidophilus 100 million CFU/lb

Omega 3 Fatty Acids 0.80%

Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 2.80%

Other ingredients: Kelp Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, vitamins added.

Here is a link that might be useful: Equidae fortified alfalfa pellets for horses

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 11:52

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:45AM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Great stuff Straw! Keep me up to date on the results!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 4:12PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Your Mr. Lincoln blooms are perfect: large, with many petals. Slightly acidic clay has plenty of phosphorus for big blooms and deep colors.

My last house with acidic clay: blooms are big, deep colors, and dark-green leaves. Phosphorus is essential for the quality of blooms and deep colors. When I cut my roses for the vase with my pH 8.3 - 8.5 hard-well water, the blooms become faded in color. The calcium hydroxide in hard-water is UNSTABLE, and it binds with phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements.

University of Hawaii has an excellent link on how phosphorus is absorbed, and how mycorrhyzal helps with phosphorus-uptake. Here's an excerpt from the link below: "The solubility of phosphate minerals is very dependent upon soil pH.
•The soil pH for optimum phosphorus availability is 6.5
•At high or neutral pH, phosphate reacts with calcium to form minerals, such as apatite.
•Under acidic conditions, phosphorus may react with aluminum and iron to form minerals, such as strengite and varescite."

Duchess of Rohan's hole where I put lots of gypsum (calcium sulfate) to break up my hard clay: the blooms are smaller, and faded color. I notice that with Crown Princess Mag, where I threw gritty lime (pH 9): the blooms become faded to beige, rather than its deep orange color. That's why I prefer horse manure or alfalfa: a more balanced buffer to neutralize the acidic rain.

I checked the receipt of my alfalfa hay: it was bought August 10, exactly one week ago. The growth is very good for one-week: my Comte de Chambord, dug up to fix the soil, did nothing until now ... lots of new leaves. Same with previously bare Sonia Rykiel & Yves seedling: healthy leaves with plenty of buds.

Plants respond better to SOLUBLE fertilizer, more so than granular fertilizer that gunk on top. If I were a plant, I would definitely prefer a pleasant-aroma-tea made from alfalfa hay, rather than stinky-Milorganite (or sewage sludge).

Here is a link that might be useful: U. of Haiwaii Soil Management: phosphorus

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 14:00

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:56PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Horse owners give their horses zinc and copper supplement for strong bones and shiny coat of hair. Zinc and copper are also the two strongest fungal-suppression elements, next is calcium.

I already tested bagged compost cow-manure: high quality blooms, but blackspot-fest, thanks to cow-manure high iron & phosphorus content. The diet of horse is far-superior than cattle-feed. See below link for the contents of zinc in various grains, with wheat bran leads the chart, at 91 mg/kg, next is rice bran, oats, corn, grass hay, and alfalfa hay at 24 mg/kg. Those are the high-quality diet of horse.

An excerpt from below link: "The zinc:copper ratio is important in your horse's diet because Zn and copper compete for the same transport mechanisms in your horse, much like calcium and phosphorus compete for the same absorption sites."

*** From Straw: balanced fertilizer is best for plants. My spring pots which I forgot to put gypsum in the soil, plus topped with high iron-Milorganite are such BS-fest right from the beginning. Once I get the alfalfa pellets next week, I'll rinse their root-balls, and plant in my clay.

My 5 bands bought from Heirloom Roses end of July: They are 100% clean, I mix gypsum in the soil, plus Rose-Tone, and Jobes NPK 2-7-4 for mycorrhyzal. I also put 1/2 cup of decomposed cracked corn for zinc and copper. Let's see if these 5 bands stay clean during late fall of month-long rain.

Here is a link that might be useful: Zinc in Equine feed, best zinc to copper ratio

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 1:17PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Straw, please research the below article on Mycorrhizae. My computer is acting up and it will not load article completely.
But anyhow I think article states Mycorrhizae products do not work in garden soils...
Why? Because if native Mycorrhizae can not survive in your garden soil then either can anything they put in those Mycorrhizae products...

Just something to think about and make your own mind up on...Of course it does not hurt anything either way so really no big deal...
How large are your Heirloom rose bands Straw??? Gallon??? Or the smaller baby band sizes???

Reason why I ask is because the real small bands from Heirloom never BS here in the first season. So I could never experiment the first season.
( I'm talking from mid May to November they get no BS the first season.)
I planted our baby bands into the ground as soon as they arrive here from vendor so they were in the ground not in pots...

BUT the larger pot sizes do BS here in first season...

Do the real small bands BS for you in the first season???


This rose here was a Heirloom roses baby band. (Precious Platinum)
It grew three full years with no blackspot... Then at the end of the third year (September) it lost all its leaves to BS.
Beginning of 4th year it dropped all its leaves in late June... Shovel pruned!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mycorrhizae article

This post was edited by jim1961 on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 15:53

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 2:50PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thanks Jim, for that article on Mycorrhizae. I read that article before when I researched for the thread I posted years ago in Antique Rose forum on endo and ecto Mycorrhyzal in commercial products: both need slightly acidic soil. So commercial mycorrhyzal fungi is useful in slightly acidic potting soil, but USELESS in my alkaline clay (which has a different type of mycorrhyzal that prefer alkalinity). Mycorrhyzal fungi helps root with phosphorus-uptake.

On roses that become BS-prone after 3 years: there's a decrease in pH, due to roots' secretion of acid. I pH-tested the holes of roses died this past winter: neutral to slightly acidic, rather than my original clay at pH 7.7. With roots that are woody straight-down-stick like Dr. Huey, the soil is loamy & fluffy, thanks to excellent acid-phosphatase. With roots that are shallow-dense-cluster, like multiflora, the soil there is still rock-hard clay.

I have lots of summer-tall phlox perennials. It's the best example of cluster-root, dense & shallow, but hardy ... even -25 degree below can't kill those summer-phlox. The soil around those cluster-root are still rock-hard, evidenced of LESS secretion of acid. In my rock hard alkaline clay, I have to pour vinegar (pH 2 to 3) to soften the clay, and those woody-stick-roots do just that: Mirandy rose is a straight stick, at least 1 foot long. That one B.S. in its 3rd year.

A BUFFERING agent is needed to raise the pH, that's why Frank Gatto, nursery owner in high-rain PNW, uses 1 cup of lime in spring time for his roses. My roses are clean if I apply horse manure, pH 8, three times a year as a buffer agent (to neutralize the acidity secreted by woody-roots during acid-phosphatase).

Another factor is the depletion of zinc and copper. The link below answers the question, "Why a penny is used to prolong the vase-life of cut-tulips?" http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/apr99/924633415.Bt.r.html

"The composition of a penny: •The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc) .... water generally is low in copper, and putting a penny in the bottom might just give sufficient copper ions to extend the life of the tulip flowers."

Below link on copper deficiency stated, "Peaty and acidic soils are most likely to be deficient in copper. The stems become flaccid, and many tillers will die. The stems will not grow as fast as they usually do, and their final length will be shorter than usual. Lacking their usual firmness, the stems may bend and break. Copper deficiency may impart a sickly, stunted appearance to the plant. Dark spots indicating tissue death may appear.... copper deficiency will retard plant growth, and fruit production will decline. ... Fruit may abort soon after its development has begun."

*** From Straw: I saw copper deficiency in my Comte de Chambord rose, that's why I moved it and put the entire bag of sunflower seeds (one site listed 82% vitamin E and 70% copper). The result: Much bigger and firmer leaves, 100% clean. Comte has the most petals-blooms ... the mass of the blooms are bigger than the plant itself ... many trace elements are easily depleted in the bloom-production. Copper is essential for bloom-production. See pic. of Comte de Chambord large deep pink-bloom below:

Read more : For deficiency of anti-fungal nutrient of zinc, see below link: http://www.gardenguides.com/119440-effects-zinc-plants.html

"Zinc deficiency: Soils that are acidic often have deficient zinc. Michigan State University mentions that zinc deficiencies also are more common in soils that are naturally rich in phosphorus. According to the University of Florida authors: Young leaves may be yellowed or reduced in normal size (called "little leaf"), narrower than normal leaves with wavy edges or abnormally expanding and puckered. Another cue is what is called "rosetting"--space between new leaves is very small, and tiny leaves and shoots bunch up into a clustered tuft."

Here is a link that might be useful: Copper deficiency in plants

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 5:42PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

I've never noticed any deficiency in any of the roses I grew the leaves would look good then suddenly BS would start on a few leaves then it would spread to entire plant fairly quickly...

But I'll pay more attention next time maybe I missed something...But I'm a stickler for checking leaves for signs of nutrient deficiency.
Well I used to be...
Now with the Double Ko's I can relax...lol
Leaves always look shiny green and no BS...

And Mister Lincoln has passed the test of time which still shocks me...A lot of people say ML is a BS and mildew magnet in there areas...

Next year I'll be on guard again though...lol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:57PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Agree on Mr. Lincoln. Over a decade ago, the rose park had several beds of hybrid teas: One bed with over a dozen Tropicana, another bed with lots of Peace, another one with Angel Face roses, then Mr. Lincoln roses. The healthiest bed was Mr. Lincoln: Tall & perfect ratio of leaves to blooms. The wimpiest bed was Angel Face, bushes too short. Next wimpiest was Peace. Tropicana bed was super-tall & vigorous, but didn't have the bush-beauty of Mr. Lincoln.

I grow lots of wimpy own-roots roses known for outstanding fragrance, but disease-fest: Eglantyne, Gruss an Teplitz, Paul Neyron, Madame Isaac Pereire, Angel Face, Comte de Chambord. Many people have problems with the above: either stinginess, or disease-fests.

I have 8 Knock-outs, killed a few due to nasty thorns ... but they are always healthy here both as own-root and grafted on Dr. Huey.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:09PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

I have read articles that say its hard to breed BS resistance into very fragrant roses.

But most of the roses I tried hardly had fragrance at all but they still got severe BS so not sure if there is much truth to that???

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:23PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: I agree, my thornless Annie L. McDowell is intensely fragrant, yet the cleanest rose in my garden. I get tons of blooms from that one ... it doesn't B.S. with rain water (pH 6) like other roses. I learn to be selective in what type of water to use: Romantics bloom great & healthy with my tap water at pH 8.3 .. but Austin roses become stingy.

Found a great tip to prolong the life of cut flowers in a vase: http://vasedodom.com/penny-in-a-flower-vase/

"Cut the end of the flower's stem with a Drop a copper penny and one regular strength aspirin into the vase." Pennies made before 1982 are mostly copper, those are best. Pennies made after 1982 are zinc, with a tiny bit of copper. The acid in aspirin will release the copper from the penny. Copper is what firms up stems .. need that for the strong wind in my Chicagoland. My Firefighter rose survived last brutal zone 5a winter, But the strong 40+ mph wind broke its cane and killed it early spring.

The below site has an excellent guide on nutrient deficiencies. As the pH drops to below neutral, less nitrogen-fixing bacteria (prefer alkaline) ... thus less nitrogen available to plants. Thick layers of mulch also robs the soil of nitrogen as it breaks down. The 1st sign of nitrogen deficiency is loss of lower leaves, spindly growth, soft stem, in addition to yellowing of older leaves.

Nitrogen deficiency plus copper & zinc deficiency will make plants susceptible to fungal diseases: weak stems, and dropping all leaves. In the below chart, copper deficiency makes plants more wilted. Necrosis (black spots) and shortened stems characterizes zinc deficiency.

The below chart shows excess phosphorus (PO4) cause deficiencies in Iron, Manganese, Copper, and Zinc. And excess in calcium induces boron deficiency, plus potassium and magnesium deficiencies. Boron deficiency is growing tip die, younger leaves tip burn & curled & wrinkled.

I prefer horse manure with balanced nutrients, plus added zinc & copper, what's lacking in horse manure is nitrogen, which is easily supplied with added alfalfa.

Here is a link that might be useful: Atlantis hydroponics on nutrient deficiencies

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 10:51

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:47AM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thanks for the info Straw! Guess what? Mister Lincolns getting mildew for the first time!
But I moved ML because our grandson almost whacked him down with a plastic golf club... :-o LOL
Our grandson has been here since Sunday so ML has been in a different area since then...
Our grandson went home so I just moved ML back to the location he likes plus I'll probably sprinkle alittle lime in his container..

I washed ML leaves off and took this pic while I was at it...

This post was edited by jim1961 on Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 14:29

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:20PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Funny that I start getting mildew on my new 2 pots ... also sprinkled some lime. It's super hot near 90 degrees ... so glad that I mulched most of my roses with alfalfa hay, lots of earthworms underneath.

I love Mr. Lincoln's cheerful red color. Got poked by "thornless" Marie Pavie today .. it has tiny thistle UNDER the leaves, just like Souv. du President Lincoln. Boy, I miss the VERY thornless Firefighter ... that one never poke me, since the upper 1/2 is completely smooth.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 5:36PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

What happened to your Firefighter Straw?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:14PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: My Firefighter rose survived last zone 5a winter. We had a dry spring, so the new shoot wasn't strong enough to handle the strong wind 40 mph here ... the wind broke Firefighter at the base, then it died.

It's open-land in Chicagoland, so we had strong wind that once threw my kid's heavy playpark into my tomato bed. The wind also toppled over portable toilet at construction site. Firefighter DID NOT have gypsum (calcium sulfate) in the planting hole, root growth wasn't solid enough. But I put lots of alfalfa meal in its planting hole, it was always lush & healthy and lots of blooms. Below is Firefighter as 1st-year gallon-size, own-root:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 12:25

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:23AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

My best bloomers in pots were when I put 2 cups of alfalfa meal mixed with potting soil: 15 blooms for gallon-size Sonia Rykiel, and continuous blooms on band-size roses.

Alfalfa at NPK 2-1-2 or half-rotted leaves in the planting hole provides slow-release nitrogen and potassium for future years. My most blooms, and most bushy roses have the most organic matter in the planting hole, be it alfalfa, or late fall leaves. Cracked corn nitrogen content is LOWER, it's good to break up heavy & rock-hard clay, but I'm NOT impressed with the growth nor the blooming. The pH of cracked corn is acidic, at 4, compared to alfalfa meal around 6, and more neutral with alfalfa hay.

Sunflower seed-meal used to be in the old formula of Rose-Tone, until Espoma replaced that with cheap chicken-manure. See below link for nutritional profile of sunflower-seed-meal, very high in vitamin E, and antifungal trace elements of copper and zinc. $2 worth of RAW sunflower seed, then coarsely grounded with coffee-grinder is worth it for the health of wimpy roses known to BS like Comte de Chambord.

I'm pleased with sunflower seed-meal in the planting hole. The leaves of Comte de Chambord with that in the hole is MUCH BIGGER than the other Comte without. It's impressive for Comte to have clean growth, even after its 2nd flush, plus I planted it right next to the rain-gutter spout. See below, it was transplanted 1 month ago:

Here is a link that might be useful: Nutrients in sunflower seed

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 13:00

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:08AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I regret NOT putting alfalfa meal in pots this year. The blooming isn't as good. Below is Madame Isaac Pereire rose, bought as band-size less than 1 month ago. I put chopped-up garlic chives on top to repel aphids.

I didn't have aphids nor holes in leaves when I had 20+ pots with alfalfa meal inside ... now I get rose slugs and aphids with other sources of nitrogen: blood meal, Milorganite (sewage sludge), and molasses fertilizer. All these have iron, which attract insects.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:18AM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thanks for the info Straw!
Sorry to hear the Chicago winds destroyed Firefighter...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 5:01PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: I hope you didn't buy $8 of alfalfa hay .. that MATTED DOWN in these humid and rainy weather. It was great when the weather was hot & dry .... kept the roots moist & cool. The alfalfa hay would be best in dry & hot climate like CA, but it really matts down in rainy weather. VERY MESSY.

Roses like Yves Seedling is 100% healthy with alfalfa hay in this constant rain & humid weather. I scraped off the salty & high iron & NPK 5-2-0 Milorganite. Christopher Marlowe, without alfalfa hay, without gritty lime, is coming down with B.S. this very humid & rainy week.

I learn to spread gritty lime & alfalfa while roses are blooming .. so when they are done with acid-phosphatase, the lime neutralizes the acid secreted, and the alfalfa stimulates new growth. Same as my applying horse manure (already has lime) and alfalfa meal before a rain, in previous years of healthy roses. pH of rain is 6 in my Chicagoland, but reported as 5.6 in the East coast.

Best ratio of nitrogen to calcium is 2:1, same as the ratio of potassium to calcium 2:1. It's same amount of nitrogen as potassium, but 1/2 calcium. I learned that from U. of Kentucky experiment with veggies seedling, same with U. of Mass. Phosphorus is needed MUCH LESS, since its mobility is a 1, and doesn't leach out like nitrogen (a 10 mobility), and potassium (a 3 mobility) according to NOBLE plant foundation. It also has a great document on how phosphorus works in soil, see below link:

Here is a link that might be useful: Understanding phosphorus behavior in soil

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:30PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thank god I did not buy Alfalfa Hay yet because of all our rain...
Thanks for letting me know about the matting down...
Everything seems to matte down here so that's why I like my compost which seems to dry out fairly quickly...

Thanks for the all the info Straw!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:43PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: My husband picked up the alfafa pellets from my feed store (they ordered that for me, free of charge). It's $17.99 for 40 lbs., only $1 more expensive than alfalfa meal ... but SO MUCH BETTER.

It's Standlee brand, zero salt added. It smells nice, and DOES NOT STINK up my garage like alfalfa meal did. The pellets are large like Pennington Alaska pellets. It's thick, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. The pellets are green & fresh.

Money-wise, it's a better buy than alfalfa hay, since it's SO MUCH HEAVIER. Alfalfa hay is $8 per bale, but it's light. Alfalfa pellets at $17.99, is many times heavier.

I will put that in the planting hole of recently transplanted Yves Red seedling. I don't like alfalfa meal in the planting hole since it's dusty, and releases tremendous heat due to quick decomposition, and cooked one of my geraniums to death in hot summer. Alfalfa pellets are much larger, thus slower to release, and more gentle to tiny roots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Standlee alfafa pellets - no salt & no sugar

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:38PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Hope the pellets work for you Straw!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 6:46PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

After a few months of sunflower seeds in the planting hole: DOES NOT WORK, Comte de Chambord still breaks out in black spots after its 3rd flush ... it's right below a rain-spout, always wet there.

Here's the result of putting alfalfa hay in the planting hole 1-month ahead, to fluff up the soil. At first it was a disaster, really hard to work the hay in the soil. But after 1 month, it was broken-down enough to mix into the soil. Alfalfa hay helps with drainage & aeration, after 1-month of decomposition.

Yves seedling was transplanted 3 weeks-ago ... lost all the leaves, but grew healthy ones, see picture below, taken Friday 9/12. Besides alfalfa hay, I also put gypsum, alfalfa pellets, Encap dry compost, and both copper & zinc pennies on top, then topped with my alkaline clay.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sun, Sep 14, 14 at 19:00

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 6:56PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I put zinc pennies (after 1982), and copper pennies (before 1982) in the pot of Duchess de Rohan. It's a poor-drainage Styrofoam pot (with narrow bottom), plus we have lots of rain this year. Duchess de Rohan has been a BS-fest as a band received in May. It got really bad after blooming.

I tried everything, including gritty lime, but it didn't help. Three weeks ago I put zinc & copper pennies, plus alfalfa pellets. Here's the 100% clean new growth, despite month-long rain, the pot was soaking wet when I took the rose out, to plant into my clay.

Have you ever wondered why the fountains in the mall, where people throw pennies in, never have algae at the bottom? Copper sulfate is used to kill algae in fountain. I checked the pennies in Duchess de Rohan's pot: they became corroded, so the metals did get oxidized by the acidic rain.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 7:12PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

The above Duchess de Rohan has very wimpy roots when I took that from the pot, due to poor-drainage. I checked on zinc sulfate, produced when zinc is oxidized by acidic rain, or reacting zinc with sulfuric acid. Below is an excerpt from eHow on zinc sulfate:

"It has also been found to be effective in the removal of moss stains on roofs because it will not stain or corrode aluminum or galvanized gutters.

Zinc sulfate is an important element in agricultural fungicides and is used to protect a wide range of products including cotton and wheat. Pears, cabbage, apples and broccoli will also resist fungal infestation when a solution of zinc sulfate is sprayed on them. A solution of zinc sulfate sprayed on soil can increase crop yields. Zinc sulfate is also used in animal feed to increase appetite, control blood disorders and bone disease and prevent premature death

Zinc sulfate protects the skin when used in creams for the treatment of acne, as a sunburn protector and as an aid to the healing of the skin after it is has become burned."

Here is a link that might be useful: Use of zinc sulfate

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 7:36PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thanks for all the info and I'm glad Duchess de Rohan has clean leaves now Straw.

How are you making out with using the alfalfa pellets Straw?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 9:18PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Jim: Alfalfa pellets is OK to use IN CONJUNCTION with gritty lime. When used alone, alfalfa pellets is acidic, and WORSENS black spots.

We get so much acidic rain this year, that I see zinc deficiency in the holes which I brought the pH too low with cracked corn (pH 4). Re-quote from earlier link: "Zinc deficiency: Soils that are acidic often have deficient zinc. Michigan State University mentions that zinc deficiencies also are more common in soils that are naturally rich in phosphorus ... Young leaves may be yellowed or reduced in normal size (called "little leaf"), narrower than normal leaves with wavy edges or abnormally expanding and puckered. Another cue is what is called "rosetting"--space between new leaves is very small, and tiny leaves and shoots bunch up into a clustered tuft."

Yves seedling's previous hole was acidic ... I put too much pine bark (pH 4). It was a BS-fest with smaller leaves. When I moved it to its new location, the leaves are bigger, shinier, and healthy ....Thanks to my alkaline clay fixed with alfalfa hay (less acidic than alfalfa pellets).

CONCLUSION: Alfalfa hay is cheaper, $8 per bale, and great to mix in soil months in advance, to aerate soil and improve drainage. Alfalfa pellets is more expensive, $17 per 40 lb. bag, more acidic, but convenient to use on top, if neutralized by lime.

Kordes Barcelona (smaller red bloom) has a fantastic fragrance, and blooms lots with alfalfa pellets. That one is susceptible to mildew, which I fixed easily with gritty lime. It's the only one that doesn't break out in BS with alfalfa pellets. See bouquet below:

My roses this year are NOT as healthy as previous years with horse manure & alfalfa. I will shop more with cash, just to collect pennies (the ones after 1982 are made of zinc, and the ones before 1982 are made of copper ... both are anti-fungal agents).

    Bookmark   September 15, 2014 at 11:20AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

See below link from Atlantis Hydroponics which document the deficiencies induced by excess of specific nutrients, such as phosphorus. When phosphorus is in excess, it induces deficiencies in iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. The last two are anti-fungal agents ... less of those mean more black spots.

I have 3 Comte de Chambord now, a friend recently sent me another one. Comte is a heavy bloomer, and always break out in black spots after blooming. Its root acid-phosphatase well, so there's a deficiency of zinc and copper, resulting in smaller leaves, weaker stems, and fungal diseases. I put lots of pennies (both zinc & copper) on the 1st one next to a rain-spout. The 2nd-one, I'll move it to high pH clay. The 3rd one with alfalfa & gypsum. Will report the results.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's in excess can produce deficiencies

    Bookmark   September 15, 2014 at 11:28AM
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