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In Your Garden with Jenny Watts TLC for Roses during Drought Roses are a valuable asset to your

permanent landscaping. They should be given high priority when planning water allotments for the drought season. But roses will adjust to prolonged water shortage better than many flowering plants. Because roses are so resilient, caring for them during drought is not difficult. There will be less growth, fewer and smaller blooms, and fewer and shorter blooming periods. But despite these disappointments, your roses will survive. Follow these tips keep your roses healthy during this challenging time. To decrease the stress on your roses you must help them make the most of the available water. Infrequent, deep watering is the key. Deep watering ensures that moisture will penetrate down into the root zone where mycorrhizal fungi and root hairs maximize the surface area of the roots and provide the most efficient use of the water. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses or other slow delivery systems conserve more water than sprinkling. Build some sort of edging around the rose bed to keep the water in the root area and prevent runoff. When you water your roses, mark it on your calendar. Then wait and watch. When the roses start to droop, note the date, count back the number of days to when you last watered, subtract one day and that is how often you need to water. Repeat this occasionally and you will likely see you will need to water less and less as the roots push deeper into the earth. In other words let your roses tell you when they’re thirsty. To retain the moisture and moderate soil temperatures, mulch heavily with 3 to 4 inches of shredded mulch. This will stretch the time between waterings and reduce the number of weeds competing for available water. If summer temperatures are high, cover the plants with shade cloth to further reduce transpiration. Prune lightly to avoid stimulating vigorous new growth. Remove only dead, diseased or damaged wood and shape lightly, but leave as much material as possible. The root system and the top stay in balance with each other. You want to maintain a robust root system that can reach out to find water in the soil. Do not cut blooms from the rose bush as they start to fade. Allow them to form seed heads which will help postpone the new growth that normally follows each blooming period. But once the seed heads have formed, remove them because they will use water to mature. Do very little fertilizing. Use a mild fertilizer in the spring, giving them just enough to keep them healthy without stimulating growth. New roses need to be kept moist during their first summer to encourage a strong root system. Two gallons of water per week should be sufficient. Feed them lightly and mulch. With a little extra TLC, your roses will survive the drought to enhance your garden for years to come.