The Rose Terrace
Easler's Rose Care Tips and Tricks
Pick a good sunny location, preferably one that receives a minimum of six hours of direct sun. Soil must be well-drained. Don’t buy too many, only what you can handle. Check the plant for good structure and a healthy root ball - avoid plants with dead or dying branches. Plant in loose soil with lots of organic matter, starter fertilizer and Epsom salt. Epsom salt provides magnesium for good cell structure, disease control and overall plant health. Roses prefer a soil ph in the 6 – 6.5 range. Your soil can be tested with a kit available at most garden centers. Mulch with a one to two inch layer of pine bark, pine needles or a mushroom compost/horse manure combination.
Gracing the main quad side of the Stockwell Administration Building are 21 'Peace' variety hybrid tea roses that are estimated to be about 20 to 25 years old. As graduating seniors accept their diplomas at May Commencement Exercises, the roses provide a picturesque backdrop for many a graduation photo. The expression "stop and smell the roses" is taken literally on campus, as it's impossible to resist siffing deeply the fragrance of the flowers in when they're in full bloom.
It is no coincidence that these beautiful hybrid tea roses are in bloom – abundantly so – in time to be the backdrop for graduation photos. In fact, it is “expected” that the roses be in bloom, according to Robert Easler, the man charged with making sure the bushes look their best.
In February, Easler cuts the plants back, making sure to cut out the three D’s: the dead, dying and diseased stems and branches. By Valentines’ Day he applies a slow release fertilizer (8-12-6) to the ground and then he begins a bi-weekly spraying regimen of systemic fungicide to prevent blackspot, with fertilizer (magnesium, zinc and seaweed) added to the foliar spray.
In the spring he aerates the soil with a pitchfork, turning the mulch to allow air and fertilizer to penetrate. Contrary to popular practice, Easler applies new mulch only once every two to three years. His mulch is a special blend of mushroom compost and horse manure.
If bugs become a problem, which he says is very common with roses, he applies a granular systemic insecticide to the soil. The plant absorbs it through its roots, carries it to its leaves where it is then ingested by bugs. If the bugs are especially heavy he applies a sevin spray to the leaves.
In the fall, Easler does not feed the plants as frequently, and halts feedings over the winter. Even so, it is not uncommon for the plants to bloom all the way through December, he says.