Archive | October 2015

In the Desert Rose Garden – October 2015

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There are few places in America where temperatures forecast in the low 100s are considered a cooling trend. The Coachella Valley is one of them, and my roses tell the tale all too tragically.

This summer of the twelve summers I look back upon, will live in my memory as the summer of diversity and adversity. Although we experienced some pleasurable moments of our famous dry heat, we were also besieged by hot humid days complete with thunder, lighting and wind.

As if this abundant potpourri was not enough, September continued to chase me out of the garden with its relentless scorching. While the “browning” of the desert, without mercy, plagued anything growing in the displeasure of the sun.

Many a mornings stroll into my rose garden became a  tear-filled tour of what once was my soul renewing Wonderland, now a solitary painful assessment of loss.

Until one morning, when I spotted amid the carnage of brown burnt leaves and darkened canes nestled in vibrant fresh and tender fall leaves, one perfectly sized, scented, colored and shaped rose. It had survived the wicked summer, and was the most beautiful rose I had ever seen! This triumphant event continued to unfold everywhere in my rose garden, and I hope in yours.

Due to the heat, I had not finished my fall trimming and clean up as timely as planned. Nonetheless, Mother Nature was not waiting for me, and we all know “Mother Knows Best.”

The desert rose garden in October concentrates if not celebrates new growth, plentiful blossoms and the special color of fall leaves.

October Gardening Tips:

tools better homes and gardensOctober is about finishing your fall clean up and trimming. Followed by feeding, fertilizing and watching for other new growths in the garden; namely insects, disease and weeds.

Your roses will return to blooming with little beyond a nod from  Mother Nature; your job is to keep them in bloom providing bountiful bouquets at the ready through your holiday season. The best way to accomplish this is with regular feeding and fertilizing.

  • Unlike spring, unless you are using organics in the spring, you can start your feeding and fertilizing program at once after trimming.

Whether you choose to use in-organic (chemical) or organic fertilizers, the best practice is to be consistent with their use. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, and adjust for the type, size, and age of the rose. Equally as important is to water both before and after each application.

Organic vs. In-Organic:

 Organic (natural) fertilizers are made from previously living plant or animal organisms. The most common of these are: blood meal, cottonseed meal, bone meal, alfalfa and fish meals. In addition, manure from chicken, rabbit and steer makes up this category.

Organics require decomposition by soil micro-organisms before they are usable by the plant. Therefore, organics are slower to release, yet beneficial to both the plant and soil making them an integral part of your program, at a minimum, on an alternating basis.

In-Organic (chemical or man-made) fertilizers provide immediate release to the plant making them excellent products for heavy-feeding roses. However, in-organics do nothing to build the bio-mass of the soil.


  • N-P-K is considered a formula for success. These letters indicate that fertilizer is a blend of Nitrogen, Phosphorus (Phosphate) and Potassium (Potash). The numbers on the product refer to the percentage of each in the particular blend inside. Fertilizer, by law, must have this information printed on the package.





There are many different formulas on the market designed to achieve results as defined in the areas below.

  • Nitrogen is necessary for growth, strength, and green foliage. A fertilizer with a higher first number (10-5-5) will focus on these areas. Thus, one might use this formula at the beginning of a season after trimming or pruning. Note: Nitrogen travels through soil in haste and needs to be replenished more often.
  • Phosphorous promotes root growth, plant health and abundant better blooms. A fertilizer with the second number higher (10-20-10) will concentrate in these areas. This formula is used to produce the maximum number of flowers.

Phosphorous moves through soil without haste at only one inch per annum. Therefore, often a fertilizer high in  phosphorous will be added to the planting hole putting it in prompt touch with the lower roots.

  • Potassium (Potash) adds overall vigor to the plant and is essential for health and resistance to diseases. More importantly, it acts as a catalyst for the release of Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
  • There are often micronutrients (iron, zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, boron, chlorine and molybdenum) added to fertilizers in small amounts. Roses only need minute quantities; nevertheless, these micronutrients are best used by the rose in their chelated form.
  • Do not forget to feed your plants and soil, in particular, if you use chemical fertilizer, with amendments (covered last month) like: manures, meals, compost, guanos, mycorrhiza and Epsom salts. Need I mention, as always, a little more mulch on top, and you can rest.

Think Rosy Thoughts,  Sharon Radice Moore