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Natural Rose Care for Your Garden

Use these natural pest-control methods used by vegetable farmers to help discipline a garden and how to deter unwanted visitors.

| March/April 1982

  • Rose Garden Pests

  • Rose Garden Pests

Like most folks, I grew up believing that the only good bug was a squashed bug. The sheer abundance of insects around my childhood Florida home made any attempt at eradication impractical, though, so I spent my young years in an uneasy truce with the world of six- and eight-leggers.

After I'd grown up, moved to Virginia, and planted a good-sized rose garden, however, I resolved to go on the offensive. In an almost frantic struggle to protect my blooms, I marked anything remotely resembling an insect for immediate elimination. Every week I'd don a mask, gloves, and goggles . . . and set out, carrying an arsenal of pesticides, to wage war on the enemies of roses.

My chemical efforts were successful, too, but — in the course of zapping the bad bugs — I also killed the beneficial insects and drove away the birds I'd labored to attract to my garden. It wasn't long before I noticed that our woodpeckers had ceased work on their oak tree condominium and that the fireflies were failing to appear for their twilight show. I'd thought that a pest-free rose garden would be wonderful . . . but I found that I wasn't willing to sacrifice the area's wildlife to have one. So I decided to look for a better way.

Well, I found a solution to my dilemma — after a great deal of research and consultation with fellow gardeners — in the form of a host of time-tested natural remedies and deterrents for insect pests. I've discovered that those of us who grow ornamental flowers can, by employing commonsense planting techniques and a diligent program of garden care, achieve beautiful blooms without resorting to harmful poisons.

Preparing Your Garden

In almost all kinds of gardening, the road to success begins long before the first plant is set out. In the case of roses, a grower who's striving for perfect blooms must first devote some time to developing a rich, healthy rose bed. Properly balanced soil will allow the plants to absorb the amount of air and water they need to resist insect invasions. Soil testing services are available in most areas through the county agricultural extension office, and it makes good sense to have your intended rose bed analyzed in order to correct its soil chemistry before you plant.

Once you're certain the bed is as rich and healthy as you can make it, treat yourself to all the roses the growing space (and your pocketbook) can handle. Temper your decisions, however, with the following bits of knowledge: Light-colored blooms are often tastier to bugs than are those of darker hues and roses that are classified as "disease resistant" are usually reliable choices.

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