I remember being a young girl, about 15 or so, and I just loved roses, but never had the room for a garden, so I hadn’t quite developed my sea legs yet when it comes to playing with dirt…and more importantly…flowers. And YES, flowers are VERY important.
I’ll never forget, I had an aunt that we rented a house from, and she gave us a deal on the rent if I would do the yard work. I was so intimidated by all the roses – I thought for sure I would kill them.
Then one day she blessed me with her sage wisdom – it was a defining day for the young gardener in me and I never forgot it!
She came over barefoot, enjoying the feel of the grass, and sat me down and said….’look – roses are easy – here’s the scoop’….so here it goes – the advice that has never failed me and gave me an insatiable love for roses:
- Roses LOVE water-when in doubt – give them water. Technically, they don’t require as much water as some of the other flowering plants, but, especially in arid places like San Diego, give them more water.
- They don’t want a ton of water all at once…you’re much better off putting the hose on a slow drip and leaving it for awhile. Imagine trying to drink your next shower, versus using a camel-back. This allows the soil time to soak it up, the roots to expand, and doesn’t waste water.
- Pick off the dead stuff…just like us, roses don’t like to have the dead stuff hanging around. It’s like you’re telling the rose, “Time to make another flower – you’re ready!”
- But where to cut? I was terrified by this one. So basically, this is what she said: Find the stem on the dead bloom and run your fingers down the stem towards the base of the plant. You will find 2 types of rings – 1 type will only go about halfway around the stem. This is usually where new leaves will come out. They don’t produce flowers, so it’s up to you if you leave them or pull them off. BUT, there is also a spot where the ring goes all the way around the stem. This is usually where the stem gets taller and where the flower will grow from. Make sure to leave the ring on the plant, but cut just next to it. Now the stem is all ready for your next gorgeous bloom!
- But what about fertilizer and bugs? Excellent question – and I am not about to get into a heated debate about organic versus the basic store bought stuff. I use Bayers Systemic Slow Release Pellets for roses. They are slow release, and take care of bugs, as well as feeding your roses without the chance of burning them. If you have pets nearby, just bury the pellets so they don’t mistakenly go for them.
- Composting: you may have heard that roses LOVE potassium. So if you want to give them that extra edge of happy, be sure to pop your banana peels in the ground when you’re done with em. I dig a hole, a bit deep, (otherwise the rodents will dig them up), plop them in the hole and cover it over. They will sing!
- Container roses? Is that even possible? Absolutely – hands down!!! Little tip though, once a year, pull them out of the pot, (while keeping the roots moist and out of direct sunlight) switch out the dirt. I like to keep a 5 gallon bucket nearby, full of water just for this purpose. When putting the rose back in the new soil, take a minute and do 2 things: first off, gently break up the tight areas of the root ball – give those babies room to stretch and breathe! Second, take a pair of kitchen shears and just lightly trim the ends of the roots – that’s the secret to large blooms in a potted plant!
- A little extra love: this tip works with ANY plant I have tried it on: whenever you have the plant about to go into new soil, whether it’s in a pot or in the ground, I drop a whole egg in the hole before putting the rootball on top. I don’t know what it is, but every plant I have tried that on is a superstar. I usually break the egg a bit so the dirt can start soaking up the goodies right away. Only catch is – make sure it’s deep enough. I have had skunks and opossums dig up an entire plant to get to that egg in the bottom. It’s like they KNOW.
Now I know this a health and wellness site, as opposed to a gardening one, but here’s my thinking on the matter. First off – vitamin D. There is a serious deficiency for most people due to fluorescent lighting and spending far too much time indoors. Sunshine IS good for you.
Dirt is good for you – as in, get out, play in it, feel it under your fingernails and feet. It’s so therapeutic for the nerve endings on the bottoms of our feet, and good healthy dirt smells so good. Think I’m cray-cray? Well – I kind of am, but I swear it releases feel good hormones, like the smell of fresh cut grass, or a forest or the ocean are proven to do.
Finally, nurturing and growing things is deep down good for our souls. Especially growing our own food. In France, the term for it is paysan. It means peasant, however in France it carries a certain amount of reverence for people who live off the land. To be able to nourish your body with foods that you have grown, that are happy in your local ecosystem – what could be more nourishing and healthy? So, I will continue to talk dirt, and plants and greens and growing food – well, because it just makes me happy!
If you’re curious to know my personal solution to small space gardening that has already helped hundreds of people to switch to a farm to table dinner on the daily, click here to learn more!
Sending hugs and I hope you have a big, beautiful, DIRTY day! 😉