Meet the Critters of Highspire

Highspire FAQs

Tina's Top Tips for Roses

Flower List

Highspire In The News


Buy "Own Root" Roses

Many beautifully flowering roses are grafted onto stronger root stock to increase their chances of survival in your garden. The problem occurs when a harsh winter "nips" the rose above the soil line, killing the rose back to the ground. When the rose grows back in the Spring, the "native" flowering stock - springing from the original root stock - grows back. Frequently, this original flowering stock is inferior in quality and is very susceptible to black spot, mildew and die back. Because the showy flowering stock that you bought the rose for is gone forever, the only solution is to remove the rose and start over anew.

Save yourself the trouble. Buy and plant only "own root" roses. They generally cost a few dollars more at the outset, but when they survive a harsh winter - even if they die back to the ground - they will come back with the same blossom qualities that you bargained for in the first place. Your best selection of "own root" roses will usually be from mail order, but the broad selection is worth the effort of planning early in the season!


Start "Black Spot" Treatment Early and Keep It Up

Black Spot is a fungus that gets on the leaves, usually due to moisture laying on the leaf. The fungus eventually kills the leaves and results in leaf drop. Black spot spreads by spores broadcast in the wind and over the ground and can go from rose to rose without discrimination. The spores can also overwinter in old mulch and debris left from last season.

My solution is to spray, with your choice of natural or chemical spray, when the leaf buds begin to swell. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LEAF BUDS OPEN. Iíve done it both ways Ė and Iím always sorry when I wait because Iím fighting black spot until frost.

Now that youíve started spraying Ė DON"T STOP. Once every two weeks from bud swell to bud break (usually early April to mid-June), then weekly from mid-June to the end of September. If October is extra warm, I will spray once in early October.

Note that you canít peg these spraying timeframes down to an absolute date because the flower development will vary depending on the weather.

IF BLACK SPOT BREAKS OUT pull off the leaf immediately. Do not wait Ė it will not "get better" regardless of how much you spray. Then do not throw the leaf on the ground - put it in a baggie, seal it and throw the baggie away. If the leaf has fallen on the ground, scoop up the leaf and a small handful of the surrounding mulch, put it all in the baggie, and throw it all away.

IF YOUR ROSE LOSES ALL OF ITS LEAVES cut the stems back to about 18" inches, continue on the spraying schedule and wait for the leaves to come back. If you have enough time left in the season, the leaves will grow back and all will be well.


Protect your Roots in Winter!

I like to create a layer of warmth for my roses around their base when very cold weather is forecast.

Here is my quick fix. Take contractor size garbage bags - they are quite heavy in thickness and come in a roll. Peel one off of the roll and DO NOT pull it apart - keep it in its long skinny form. Wrap it around the base of the rose and up to and including the "graft" (if it is a grafted rose) or the lowest branches. Pin the bag into place in the ground with a landscaping pin (usually used for pinning landscaping fabric to the ground).

You should now have a "vase" or "cup" shape around the base of your rose. Make certain that the bag touches the ground with no space in between. Then pull mulch and leaves up from all 360 degrees around the rose and cover where the plastic meets the ground. Then lightly stuff DRY leaves down into the "vase" to the base of the rose and continue to fill the vase until nearly full and top with chunky bark mulch. Do not stuff the base so tightly that it will trap all moisture but just enough that it will trap heat from the ground and absorb daily sunlight.

This arrangement will trap adequate warmth to protect the roots and save your rose from the extremes of winter chill.


Donít "Overhead Water" Your Roses!

Moisture collecting on the leaves equals a recipe for black spot development (if the water sits there too long) or leaf burn (if the water droplets get hit by direct sunlight before the water evaporates or drops off the leaves). It is so tempting to overheat water when you are short on time, but I always regret it later. Use a soaker hose or a stationary sprinkler on a very low flow. Donít hit the leaves with the spray. Time your watering for the early morning Ė any stray droplets will fall off the leaves or evaporate before stronger sunlight hits them later in the day Ė helping to keep your roses free of black spot and leaf burn.


Prep the Planting Hole and Save Lots of Time Later

When you dig your planting hole, put your rose fertilizer and a big handful of watering crystals right in with the plant. The fertilizer gets into the roots faster and the watering crystals holds the water right where it is needed the most Ė even between waterings or anytime rain is scarce.