Is it possible to have no-spray roses in Houston?

julia42(9a)August 8, 2010

Sorry - the transfer of my first post didn't work right...

I'm new to all this - I just moved to Houston and bought my first house with my first yard, first garden, and first roses. My husband and I had great dreams of keeping a no-spray yard since we have small kids, and did research into how to make that possible.

I was excited to see that our yard came with a lovely well-established Belinda's Dream rose bush, which I read is very disease and pest resistant, Texas Superstar, Earthkind, blah blah blah. We also had some hybrid Teas which I took out and a Sombreuil climber which I left. I added another Belinda's Dream and a regular Knockout rose.

I didn't do much through the summer other than appropriate light pruning, dead-heading, removal of leaves at the base of plants, and removal of the occasional spotty leaf. I watered at the base (not on the leaves)and hand removed the occasional bug.

About a week ago, the original BD got a bad case of stink bugs. I got rid of them using a combination of a dishsoap solution and removing of the affected blooms of the plants (which had lots of bugs on them). The bush looked pretty sad at that point, but did okay for a couple days until every single leaf on it was suddenly covered in blackspot. Then the other BD got blackspot. Then my Knockout got blackspot. The only rose at this point that looks reasonably attractive is my Sombreuil, which is the only one that's NOT an Earthkind Texas Superstar.

Did I do something wrong or does the no-spray thing not really work in Houston where the whole summer is at about 95% humidity? I see knockout roses all over in commercial landscaping. I know they're not as carfully cared for as mine - are they likely sprayed roses? Should I just expect these hardy roses to occasionally defoliate from blackspot but then come back?

Thanks for any info you might provide!

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bobbi_p(z8/9 Cypress, TX)

Hmmmm... The roses you describe are pretty bomb-proof as roses go.

I'm in Cypress and never spray. My double knockouts out front are in full, gorgeous bloom right now. I just pruned full, luscious growth off my Ducher hoping for a great fall flush. My Nacodoches/Grandma's Yellow is fighting a bit with what I assume are grasshoppers and some blackspot. And a Gabrielle Privat I just planted this spring (with powdery mildew at the time) is suffering as I battle the fire ants that have chosen to come up through her roots.

What I am curious about is how often you water and if the roses are in a position to benefit from whatever breezes we've had over these past miserable humid weeks? I haven't had my sprinklers on the timers all summer. I only flip them on for a couple of cycles when I see the grass in my lawn wilting/rolling or the Lorapetulums drooping. Other than that, I do water things like my brugmansias and pot plants on a regular basis via hose, but my roses don't get supplemental watering except for those rare occasions when I flip the sprinklers on...

So, too much water perhaps? Not enough room for good air circulation?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:16AM
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Hmm... I do occasionally water the lawn (maybe once every 2 weeks, but not usually the area with the roses. I occasionally water the roses individually at the base if they're looking thirsty. I'd say maybe once every week or two. Is that too much?

There's a fence to the back of the roses, but lots of space on every other side - at least a foot between each bush.

It's funny you should mention the ants, though. Every time I've dug up anything in our yard I find fire ants in the roots. The first affected Belinda's Dream bush is the only one I've found actual mounds underneath. Also, the fire ant battle has been the one time I've broken the no-chemical treatment rule. I've used Amdro. Could either the Amdro or the ants be harming the bushes?

It also seems like maybe we have a fungus-y yard or something. I frequently find mushrooms, our Bradford pear has a small amount of fire blight, and a crepe myrtle in the front gets that sooty mold if I don't keep the aphids off. Maybe general poor drainage? (Or maybe none of that's unusual - I don't know...) But the roses at least have obviously done well for quite a few years before I arrived on the scene, which leads me to think maybe it's something I've done!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 8:36PM
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bobbi_p(z8/9 Cypress, TX)

The watering doesn't sound excessive to me. For example, most of my neighbors just have their sprinklers go off every 2 days regardless of whether the plants need it or not!

I doubt you have a "particularly fungus-y" yard: Welcome to Houston! I did notice from mid-July when we were getting those daily cloudbursts a lot of fungus popped up. I think it's just the dormant spores waiting for an opportune time to grow.

Keep after the fireants. There are some organic remedies, but I don't mess with them. I use AMDRO as well. You can do a search on the forums for the organic treatments if you're interested. I don't have the patience to be nice to those fireants. Plus, nothing makes you feel worse as a mother than when one of your babies comes screaming to you covered in fire ants. D*&% things!

The humidity is a challenge here, but in this climate it's quite possible to have blooming things year round. It's been fun to be able to garden year round. I often consider late June/July/August to be our gardening break because it's so miserable to work outside.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 10:01PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I'm not in Houston and I'm not an avid rose grower (I have 2) but I've been told that spraying liquid seaweed, or fish emulsion products on the leaves will help guard against BS. I wonder if the liquid dishsoap might have killed off any beneficials on the leaves that supress the BS and that's why it succumbed to the BS. I will say that some years my nearly wild rose has awful blackspot, and this year it's not had it at all (knock on wood). So, maybe it's just this year has been particularly bad in your area and won't be indicative of every year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 1:41PM
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I live approx. 90 miles east of Houston and have had the same problems with roses with the exception of an antique rose I have had for about 30 years. It has never had any problems of any kind and has never been sprayed with anything.It is the only rose I have now. It is a very pretty pink heavy blooming plant. I don't know how to post pictures on this web site but if you post your email address I will send you pictures of it. If you ever drive thru this area I will give you all the cuttings that you want. At the present time I have a rooted cutting you are welcome to. On the downside it is a vigorous growing rose with lots of thrones and requires heavy pruning. It probably would grow well for you in Houston.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:14AM
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I've got gobs of roses and the antique Tea roses and China roses are really really good no spray. They bloom all spring, summer, and fall, and mine haven't been sprayed in 3 years. Water does help them look good- my sis doesn't water hers and they are looking ratty. They'll get a little BS but they shrug it off and keep on keeping on.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 4:42PM
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i live in cypress, my roses are all between a pool and a fence (even more humidity and less air circulation)
my best roses are la biche (which i've read is sombreuil)
old blush blooms year round), abraham darby (david austin)
and souvenier de la malmasion and belinda's dream has also done well,
out of my eight years of growing roses on this lot, i've only put out bayer advantage for roses once (i like bees)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:24PM
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Thanks for all your input. I'm inclined to think that my soapy water attack on the stink bugs must have stressed the rose bushes in some way. Perhaps I was overly zealous. Anyhow I went ahead and sprayed them with Bayer Advanced and pruned the large Belinda's Dream back quite a bit and they seem to be doing well now. The large BD looks pretty thin, but is sending up new shoots, as is the younger BD. The knockout never defoliated and is blooming fine, so I guess it's okay after all! Crossing my fingers...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 8:21AM
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I was also going to suggest Souvenier de la Malmasion. I love that rose! I'm planning to get Kronprincessin Viktoria,Capitaine Dyel de Graville,and SDLM Rouge which are all sports of SDLM, so I hope they do as well. I don't know why, but BD did terrible for me. First of all, she had so many thrips that the blooms looked terrible all the time, plus it just never looked healthy. Maybe I just got a dud.

okokok - Would you get Old Blush if you could only have 5 roses? The pictures I've seen of it don't do anything for me, but I keep reading about what a great rose it is.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 6:10PM
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