Usually the main task in Summer is to provide sufficient water to keep up a succession of beautiful blooms. But this year the constant spells of heavy rain has meant that the watering systems have been unused and the tanks of water collected during Winter and Spring remain full. However, there are some other important tasks to do in Summer.
Apply mulch if this was not undertaken during the wet Spring, to prevent too much evaporation from the soil. There are a choice of mulches available including Pea Straw, Lucerne and Sugar cane Mulch. Probably the best is Who Flung Dung. In addition to moisture preservation all of these will help to suppress weeds.
When watering is necessary give each plant about a bucketful 2-3 time a week. Do not just give a small amount each day as this encourages the roots to come up to find the small amount of water and then the roots will get burned. Deep watering is essential. water around the base of the bush and not over the top as this encourages fungous disease. For the same reason watering is best done in the early morning rather than the evening. Of course the installation of sprinklers which can be turned on for a suitable time, simplifies the watering process.
Pests and fungous disease can be a problem if prevention is not undertaken early. Neem Oil is a natural preventative and is widely used. Other insecticides like Pyrethrin work well but should not be used when bees are around. Black Spot is the worst of the fungous infestations and because treatment when the disease is established does not bring about a cure, it is important to use an effective fungicide as a preventative. The repeated use of the environmentally friendly Eco Rose every 2 weeks is the best approach. The Yates Rose Shield will control both fungous disease and such pests as mites, caterpillars and aphids when sprayed early in the morning or late in the evening when bees are not around.
Late in January or in early February, apply Sudden Impact for Roses and water it in thoroughly, after a summer prune so that there will be lots of roses during Autumn and at Easter, which this year is very early.
New soft stems that form from the base of the plant are called ‘Water Shoots’ and these are very valuable as they form the basis of a healthy plant for future years. Environmental conditions, especially strong winds can break them off while they are still soft so it is important to tie them to canes for support. Some growers actually cut them back before flowering occurs as this helps to mater them quicker.
When dead-heading spent blooms to encourage re-blooming, do not just snip off the dead flowers but cut down as though the rose was being cut for a vase. This will encourage stronger shoots to hold the next crop.