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It wasn’t until the late 18th century that cultivated roses were introduced into Europe and in just a few hundred years the humble rose is undoubtedly the most popular plant on the planet. At this time of the year roses are developing flower buds to burst into colour in a few short weeks. The autumn flowers are a favourite as the perfume and colour is more intense and flowers tend to last longer on the plant because of the cooler weather. In most areas of Australia roses are a favourite and as gardeners we expect a lot from our rose bushes. There are not many plants that we expect to flower and look fantastic for more than 9 months of the year.

How to look after roses in autumn

To keep them looking amazing in the coming months follow this simple guide:

  • Roses are gross or heavy feeders (a little like children), meaning they require regular nutritious food to thrive and flower brilliantly. Apply granular fertiliser monthly such as PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus from July (immediately after pruning) to May.
  • Apply a soluble fertiliser for flowering plants over the foliage fortnightly through the months of August – October and February to April. Liquid fertilisers are formulated so plants can take up nutrients fast producing quick ‘pick me. up’ results on stressed or hungry plants. In areas where pollution from nutrient leaching is a problem liquid formulations are the ideal choice. Try mixing  Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water) and PowerFeed (50mL per 9 litres of water) together in the same watering can every 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Roses require at least 6 hours of bright, direct sun per day to flower prolifically. If they don’t receive this much direct light they tend to be stretched, have weak branches and are prone to pests and diseases.
  • Do not use even slightly salty water for irrigating roses. They are very prone to salt scald and will die rapidly with poor water quality. If roses are being irrigated by dam, river or bore water, regular water quality checks are essential. Generally water quality is at its worst at the end of summer so it’s a good idea to get a check now to understand what may be causing scalding or burning problems.
  • Apply a thick layer of composting mulch. The majority of the root system is in the top 10cm of the surface. A composting mulch will protect fine feeder roots from extra warm autumn days, reduce evaporation rate and deliver nutrients as it breaks down.

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