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Tara's Corner

Tara Spears





Growing Roses in the Tropics

                      Tara A. Spears

Roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world due to their gorgeous flowers and deep symbolism. It is said that there is a rose of every color for every person, for every emotion. However, besides being popular for their beauty and fragrance, roses are also well-known to be one of the more difficult flowers to grow. Roses need very specific conditions to look and stay at their best. Just one missing requirement and a healthy bush of roses can wither and die if not remedied immediately.

Given the climate conditions present in tropical regions, it is no wonder that growing roses can be a challenge. Roses are sensitive plants—too much or too little root moisture can kill them quite easily. How do rose growers in tropical climates manage? It takes thoughtful placement, constant monitoring of soil moisture, and vigilance for fungus to keep roses healthy in the tropics.

Make sure that the soil is well drained. Roses hate wet feet so one must plan for the rainy season by including amendments that allow water to move. Dig lots of good organic matter into the soil like manure and compost.  Because of the intense sun and long dry season, it helps to minimize evaporation from the soil, and to keep the roots cooler by applying a nice layer of rock mulch. Another tip is to plant the rose bush a little higher than the garden bed so that it is on a little mound. This will stop the roots from getting soggy from sitting in water for a long period of time. In the dry season after the rose bush is established, only a good watering once a week is necessary.


Black spot on roses: Black spot is a prevalent rose disease that is caused by the fungus Diplocarpon Rosae. Should your rose bushes develop the telltale signs of black spot, remedial measures must be taken immediately. Otherwise, the bush will begin producing fewer blooms and the rose's ability to survive will be jeopardized. When roses exhibit symptoms, first cut away the affected parts and throw clippings in the trash, then begin a sulphur treatment.

Like most fungi, black spot thrives in warm, moist environments so the threat of this disease is extremely high during the summer rainy season. Spores will germinate after 7 hours of being wet and when the ambient temperature is between 65 F (18 C) and 75 F (24 C). The warmer the weather, the quicker the disease spreads. Proper care of your roses is the only way to prevent this disease from developing or spreading. Since spores can survive on fallen leaves, it's crucial to rake up and remove all dead leaves from the ground and cut away any infected canes.

At the first sign of black spot, head to the nursery and purchase wettable sulphur and a soap containing fungicide. Mix according to directions.  Spray all rose bushes thoroughly including the underside of leaves as well as the stems. The spores cannot adhere to the sulphur, so the leaves are protected whenever they're covered. Because the sulphur will wash off, it's important to reapply frequently until fungus is gone.

Fungus needs a wet environment for germination, so take extra care to keep the leaves moisture-free. For example, plant roses in sunny locations as opposed to shady places so that the morning dew evaporates more quickly. Use sprinkler hoses when watering so that only the roots get watered and not the leaves. Water early in the day-not after 4 pm- so there's plenty of time for water to evaporate. Prune the roses regularly so that air can flow freely among the leaves. Be sure to allow plenty of space between bushes for the same reason.

The rose is a symbol of love and affection. It is indeed the queen of all the flowers. It acts as a universal code to send love messages. It is worth more than hundred text messages!

The meaning of rose colors acccording to the American Rose Society: Red rose - Symbol of love, beauty, Passion, Respect; Dark Red Rose - Flames of passion; White and red (bridal) - Happy and long lasting love; Baby Pink roses - Appreciation, thank you; Yellow rose - Friendship, Joy, Glad that you are here, Remember me always, I care for you; Orange - desire and enthusiasm; Lavender rose - I have fallen in love with you at first sight.

With thoughtful planting, constant vigilance for insects and fungus, you can enjoy lovely roses year round in the tropics. It is well worth the effort to have fresh cut blossoms from your garden.       Phone: 322 133 0081