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Cane borers . . . I think . . . .

Posted by Andalee Z6a, N ID (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 6, 05 at 0:24

I'm very new to growing roses--I've got five bushes currently in containers (Redoute, Pat Austin, Glamis Castle, Gruss an Aachen and a Tiffany). All but the Tiffany I've had since early last year, and have done pretty well without much intervention on my part. We moved just about a month ago from a forested hillside, with a thriving population of beneficial insects, to a valley subdivision and an acre lot with a yard full of nothing but weeds. It's a lot warmer here, and more windy. The weeds have been tilled (they sprayed with 2-4D before tilling them under), and now we've got an acre of bare dirt. I also succumbed to the advice of the lady that owns the greenhouse where we get a lot of our plants, and bought some 20-20-20 fertilizer and have been using it in mild doses on a fairly regular basis for a couple of weeks. (She uses it six days out of seven in her operation!) Anyway, the plants took off, but I've been seeing a lot more trouble with the roses, too.

One of them (it's either the Glamis Castle or Gruss an Aachen--I forgot to check the tag, and neither one has bloomed much yet) has set a lot of buds, but most of them are stunted and not swelling before they try to open. The outer petals are edged in crispy dark brown, and most of the tips of the buds have tiny holes in them. When they actually try to bloom, they're pretty pathetic. The petals aren't full-sized, and they're small, and withered and dry at the edges instead of soft and round.

As for my other problem, the Tiffany rose (it's a Jackson-Perkins rose) has neat, round holes in two of the largest canes. I noticed some wood shaving-like bits at the tip of one of the canes, and when I blew them off, a black creepy crawlie poked its head out and pushed some shavings out of the hole. I found some wire and ran it down in the hole for a surprising depth--eight inches, easy. The wire was big enough that I'm sure I got the critter. I did the same with the other cane. I hate to have to prune back, since it's just a one-gallon pot, and the rose only has a few large canes (five, I think).

Anyway, we're working on getting the yard in, and I can't wait to plant a bunch of yarrow, alyssum, etc., and foster some beneficials.

I guess I'm just wanting some confirmation that I do, in fact, have cane borers on the Tiffany, and hopefully to get some idea of what's stunting the buds on the other bush. I tried to take pictures, but my camera would NOT cooperate. Maybe it was already too dark, but it refused to focus. So, you'll have to close your eyes and imagine for me. :o)

I'm also swearing off chemical fertilizers, and going back to compost and manure. As spectacular as the results can be with the chemical stuff, I'm not happy with the bugs it seems to encourage! I remember reading that plants that are fed with chemicals instead of natural stuff reflect a slightly different light wavelength, and attract pests and diseases because they're stressed on some level. Where did I put that copy of our covenants and restrictions? I wonder if they allow rabbits . . .

Thanks for humoring my rambling!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Cane borers . . . I think . . . .

The trouble with the pale blooms sounds like flower thrips. These build up under certain weather conditions and spoil pale roses for a while.

The bug in the cane sounds like the small carpenter bee. These are not true cane borers, and the damage they do is not very scary. They make a chamber to raise the young, and it will stay the same size. Usually they drill into cut cane ends, but occasionally through the side. You can leave this cane until spring pruning next year, if you wish. I wouldn't expect that the fertilizer has any relation to pest problems.

RE: Cane borers . . . I think . . . .

One other possibility for the general malaise you've described could be the small size of the pots. There's a reasonable chance that in a 1 gallon pot, tiffany might be pretty cramped. If the weather has been warm and windy, with such small pots the roses may not have enough roots to keep the plant hydrated.
Many of my roses had a similar thing happen to their buds during a recent dry spell ( I was too busy to water) but I think there may be some variety of mildew involved as well.

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