Tending to the Knockout Roses
When you have a passion for something, you enjoy every task associated with that hobby. I love my roses, and I love tending to them - no matter how tedious the task. I recently spent 3 hours trimming off the dead wood, cleaning up the underbrush and feeding my roses for the first time this season, and I loved every minute of it.
It's amazing how quickly the roses started budding out this year. One day they were naked, and the next they had the first hints of little leaves, and a week later - boom - leafed out completely!
I wanted to get the underbrush cleaned out before they leafed out, but it happened so fast that I missed my chance. So, I trimmed off the dead wood, then trimmed the bottom spindly branches a bit so I could reach the underbrush more easily. Knockout roses are a shrub rose and require minimal pruning - removal of dead wood, spindly canes and canes that cross through the center of the bush and rub against adjust canes is sufficient. Pruning should be done in Spring, preferably before new growth begins to appear.
I wore long sleeves and a hat to protect my arms and head when reaching under the bushes. I hauled away 4 wheelbarrows full of decaying leaves that blew in over the winter and old spent mulch.
It is important to clean out from under rose bushes each Spring to keep the area beneath roses tidy. Otherwise, nasty bugs like aphids will take up residence and suck the life out of the plants.
Admittedly, my roses already had developed an aphid problem when I finally found time to clean up the underbrush. I knocked the bugs off while pruning the branches, carried some of them away in the underbrush that was hauled off and drowned the rest with a strong jet of water from the hose. I also gave them a good soaking with an organic three-in-one spray. I have never used an organic spray on my roses, but I wanted to give it a shot before resorting to my old chemical standby.
Knockout Roses are still roses and are still susceptible to the same diseases and pests of ordinary hybrid tea roses; aphids, japanese beetles, rust and powdery mildew to name a few of the most common. I had to spray my roses last year no less than three times, which is a lot less than hybrid tea roses would require, but probably more than people expect. With this many roses, it takes an entire bottle for each application! I hope the organic solution is as effective, because I would like to move away from chemical sprays in the garden completely.
I have noticed a number of people finding my blog who are searching for a knockout climbing rose. In case you are one of them, there is no knockout climbing rose. I recommend finding yourself a nice own-root rose, possibly from heirloomroses.com.