Sunday, October 6, 2019

Epsom Salt and Its Role in the Rose Garden

Epsom Salt or Magnesium Sulfate is a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It gets its name from the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was originally discovered.

Epsom salt is a popular remedy for many ailments. People use it to ease health problems, such as muscle soreness and stress. It has many health benefits but I’m not going to talk about its health benefits here but its role in the garden.

I remember the first time I bought 5 boxes of the quart size of Epsom Salt at the drug store. People looked at me with that questioning look - “What is wrong with you?”. I had to tell them that I used them to fertilize my roses. “Really?” I had to show them the label where it said good for plant growth.

Epsom Salt is an important part of the rose diet. It is an essential element for plant growth and since its availability is limited in our soils, we have to supplement it. Without magnesium in the soil, the plant roots can’t take up available calcium and potassium. It is absorbed by the root hairs and located for the most part in the leaves.

Magnesium is a photosynthetic pigment which causes water and carbon dioxide to react in the presence of sunlight to form starch, followed by many other nutrient building reactions. It keeps the nitrogen in the lower leaves and forms the chlorophyll molecule, the most important molecule in the formation and development of plant life.

I usually put in a cupful of Epsom salt in the hole for big roses and ½ cup for mini roses when I plant them. I also sprinkle them around the garden in the spring and another application in the fall. Water them after each application or do it before it rains. Epsom salt will help keep green foliage on your roses and encourage new basal breaks. It works the same way with all your other plants.

Nowadays, they sell several Epsom salt brands at gardening centers. I prefer the drug store variety because I know it is the real thing.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


Soroptimist International – Mini, Pink Blend

Summertime gardening in the Lowcountry is not easy. We have to ease ourselves and our roses through the heat and humidity while we prepare for the glorious fall season just ahead.

Your roses will continue to bloom happily in the garden, even though their flowers are smaller and less full than in cool weather.

Frequent watering during hot, dry weather is essential for healthy roses. Roses need to be watered daily when temperatures are in the 90s. Roses grown in pots may need more frequent watering. Spraying on a routine basis is essential for preventing blackspot and fungus diseases. Fertilize with light, but frequent feedings. Apply organics for the final time in August at the rate of 2-3 cups per bush.

Deadhead your roses to keep them blooming. Keep an eye out for spider mites. They thrive in hot weather and will quickly defoliate rose bushes unless you take immediate corrective actions. Cut your roses back in late August - early September to produce big, beautiful fall blooms for yourself and for taking to the fall rose shows. Trim away stems and branches growing toward the center of the bush to improve air circulation and reduce the potential for spider mites to gain a foothold in your garden. If you are planning to exhibit in fall shows, you will need to stagger pruning long canes over a couple of weeks, considering recycling times for the various varieties: Slow Recycling Varieties: 55 to 60 days for heavily petalled varieties such as Uncle Joe, New Zealand and Touch of Class. Medium Slow Varieties: 50 to 54 days for varieties such as Crystalline, Elizabeth Taylor, Peace, and Olympiad. Average Varieties: 45 to 49 days for varieties such as Color Magic, Double Delight, Gold Medal, Nicole, French Lace and some heavily petalled miniatures. Fast Varieties: 40 to 44 days for varieties such as Altissimo, First Prize, Fragrant Cloud, and large minis such as Giggles, Tiffany Lynn and Miss Flippins. Very Fast Varieties: 35 to 39 days for singles such as Dainty Bess, Playboy, Playgirl and single minis.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society May Meeting

Due to scheduling conflicts The Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society meeting has been postponed to

Date: Monday May 27th,

Where: James Island Town Hall,  1122 Dills Bluff Rd. 

Social Time: 6:30 pm 

Meeting: 7:00 pm

Program: Polyantha Rosses by Jan Hillis

Polyanthas and floribundas are the workhorses of the rose garden. Of all the different kinds of roses , Polyanthas and floribundas are the most prolific bloomers, plus they’re useful in the landscape, in perennial borders, and in large group or mass plantings.

Submitted by:
Kathy Woolsey
President, CLRS

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Food for Thought About Rose Shows

I have been growing roses since 1971 and have been a member of the American Rose Society way before they moved their headquarters to Shreveport. Over the years of my growing roses and joining the local society, I pride myself of having planted the most beautiful flower in the world. I have been a member of the ARS long before I joined my local society. Only at the behest of a friend of mine who told me I can exhibit my roses did I join a local society and the rest is history. I cut my first bloom and won the novice class and I was hooked.

From then on, I exhibited my roses every year but I never made the Queen of Show. I won blues and silver trophies in other classes. There was one person in our society who always won the top three awards all the time. That discouraged me in showing my roses in the One Bloom Hybrid Tea class. This exhibitor grew 1,100 roses, he told me. Nobody could compete with him for a long time until one member gave him a run for his money. Since I knew I would never win the Queen, I geared myself to exhibiting in other classes. After a while, I tried my hand in exhibiting at the Arrangement Section which I found more fun and interesting.

One year, we introduced Hi-Lo class. The weather was terrible prior to the show and nobody had a good specimen. Since I never exhibited for the Queen, I entered the Hi-Lo class. I knew I would win the first silver trophy in that class and I did. After the show, the other top exhibitor told me I should have entered my roses in the Hybrid Tea class and the Mini class. I had the best specimens. I didn’t even think of it. I lost my only chance of winning the Queen and the Mini Queen!

The reason I’m bringing this up is the rose show always emphasizes Hybrid Teas. Nowadays, unless you are die-hard exhibitors and most of them are the old guard, only a few of the new members want to put that kind of effort to get to the Queen of Show. Most gardeners do not want to spray chemicals anymore. Chemicals are not good for gardeners. I often wonder how much damage those chemicals are doing to the health and well-being of us and our neighbors, not to mention our environment. More and more of our rose friends died of cancer. It’s a bit scary to me.

There is also one thing that bothers me about rose shows. There are very few judges who know about shrubs and Old Garden Roses. Their main focus is Hybrid Teas. Since most of the judges grow mostly Hybrid Teas, they can’t possibly be able to judge OGRs correctly. Since there is a resurgence of OGRs and shrub roses, the ARS should rule that ARS judges should grow more OGRs and not just Hybrid Teas. To grow them is to know them!

I love rose shows. It is an educational tool to show the public that the Rose is truly the Queen of Flowers. But here is an interesting quote that is food for thought for rose societies for their rose shows.

“Rose shows are held to test cultivation, as to who can grow the best roses, rather than decorative powers, as to who can show them the best. A large advantage is held, as it is, by those who are gifted in the power of display. . . but if all the merit were in the showing, there would be small encouragement for the cultivator in his yearly round of work.” Rev. A. Foster Melliar, The Book of the Rose (1894)

I often wonder if this emphasis on having a perfect rose to the detriment of our health is the big issue why people have the notion that roses are difficult to grow. Has anyone noticed that in most of our meetings, the speaker talked so much of chemicals and putting on HazMat gear while spraying their roses? That would definitely scare your neighbors. If I am a prospective member at those meetings, I would definitely find the nearest exit door.

I may be in the minority on this topic but I stopped spraying about 30 years ago. My roses looked awful the first year but by the second year, the roses improved. They had to survive otherwise I yanked them out. Nowadays, I only buy disease-resistant roses. I also like fragrant roses. I don’t care about perfect form if there is no fragrance. It has also been proven that monoculture invites pests and diseases so I do companion plantings. It helps confuse pests and enables me to have continuous color in the garden all season long.

Until next time. Stop and Smell the Roses

Monday, February 18, 2019

Gardening Hazard - Tetanus

It is a good idea to have a tetanus shot at least every ten years, although for those of us who are always working in the soil, five years is probably preferable. We all work in the garden and sometimes get stuck with thorns. A small cut or scrape is enough to admit tetanus bacteria.

Tetanus bacteria live in the soil and compost. It can have some rather unpleasant symptoms and cause very serious problems and nobody needs those which make having tetanus shots very important.

According to, you should suspect tetanus if a cut or wound is followed by one or more of these symptoms:

·        Stiffness of the neck, jaw, and other muscles, often accompanied by a grotesque, grinning expression

·        Difficulty swallowing

·        Irritability

·        Uncontrollable spasms of the jaw, called lockjaw, and neck muscles

·        Painful, involuntary contraction of other muscles.

Since there is not a lot going on in the garden now, please call your doctor and make your appointment.

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Suggested Winter Readings

Next to rose gardening, my favorite hobby is reading. I can’t get enough books to read although we have already so many books in our home library. Winter is the best time to indulge myself. Here are some books which you might find helpful in the coming season.

Taylor’s Guides – Roses
Completely Revised and Updated by Nancy J. Ondra. Everything you need to know can be found in this guide. There are almost 400 photographs of roses with description as regards to their growth habit, winter hardiness and fragrance.

Landscape with Roses by Jeff Cox
This is an excellent idea book on new ways of using roses in your landscape; in the mixed border, walkways, arbors, containers, even clambering up a tree and adorning architectural structures. There are over 300 full color photographs and about 100 black and white photos.

Beautiful Roses by Marie-Helene Loaec
Writer and journalist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) said “A rose without perfume is only half a rose.” This book is about fragrant roses. If you are interested in planning a garden with the most fragrant roses, this is the book you should read. It has pictures of 50 roses arranged by color and chosen for their unforgettable fragrance. Information on their history, characteristics and cultivation are included, together with hints on companion plantings. The last chapter deals with 50 guidelines which are the keys to success in rose growing.

Roses for the Scented Room by Barbara Milo Ohrbach
The book is full of entertaining, gift-giving and decorating ideas celebrating the beauty of roses. Beginning with the basics, Barbara describes the many varieties available, from old-fashioned roses to modern hybrids, and explain how to choose the best roses from a florist or from your own garden. She offers dozens of simple how-to ideas for using them in the home or giving them as gifts.

Stop and Smell the Roses by Rosalinda R Morgan
It is a rose book with motivational twist or rather a motivational book with a rose twist. “Stop and Smell the Roses” includes some of the roses I grow in my garden. There are 33 roses featured in the book. There are almost a hundred rose-related photos all in full color. If you can’t go to a rose garden, this is the next best thing. In addition to all the rose photos, there are 101 motivational tips that will inspire you to make positive changes in your life to make you happy, healthy and successful.

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Epsom Salt and Its Role in the Rose Garden

Epsom Salt or Magnesium Sulfate is a chemical compound made up of magn...