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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Growing tips

The Spokesman-Review

Advice from Figg and Shafer

•Treat your roses to a layer of manure compost each spring. Shafer “hills” hers in the fall with the compost and then spreads it out in the bed in the spring.

• Water regularly and deeply at least once a week and more during hot weather. “Ample water is the best fertilizer you can put on your roses,” says Shafer. Plants need the moisture to put out good strong growth in the spring, keep flowers at their peak when they are blooming and to prepare for the long frozen winter. Roses should be watered deeply at least once a week using a slow soak over a couple of hours.

•Fertilize roses in mid-June and again in late July with a good 16-16-16 fertilizer. Do not fertilize after July as this encourages new growth that will not have time to harden up before the frosts set in. Shafer treats her roses to a mid-summer tonic of alfalfa tea.

Bugs and diseases

•Watch for aphids, thrips and other pests this year. They got an early start this year. Aphids can be blasted off plants with a hard stream of water or treated with an insecticidal soap. Shafer prefers to strip aphids off their hiding places just below the buds with a quick flick of her thumb and forefinger.

•Encourage predator insects to help you out. Lady beetle larvae, hover-fly larvae and lace wings all eat aphids and other bugs. But there have to be enough bad guys around for the good guys to eat. So leave aphid populations in place to draw the predators.

•If necessary, try a systemic insecticide. This actually gives the bug a one-two punch. Aphids and other sucking insects feed on the plant juices and the predator bugs who are not affected by the system gang up on any aphids that get away.

•Diseases, like black spot and mildew, are going to be around this year because of the crazy weather we’ve been having. Figg’s Old Roses aren’t bothered by them much. Shafer says she has a few problems with both but keeps them in check by cleaning up old leaves around the plants, removing affected leaves and treating with a good disease spray when needed. “There are so many good roses out there that if I have a major problem with a rose, I just go find another one that’s more resistant,” she says.

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