In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
July, 2004
Regional Report

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The grandiflora rose 'Reba McIntire' does surprisingly well in hot weather.

When it's HOT, HOT, HOT

When the thermometer tops out day after day, the heat takes a toll on all of us. Roses, too. It seems that no matter how much you water them, roses wilt during these hottest days. There is an answer and that answer is mulch.

Mulch To the Rescue Once More
Just as mulch can help roses survive a harsh winter, mulch cures what ails a wilting rose garden. Our goals are to keep the garden soil evenly moist; maintain a relatively cool, even soil temperature; and keep the beds free of water-robbing weeds. Mulch does it all. A layer of 2 or, preferably, 3 inches of bark chips or another organic mulch material that allows good air and water circulation works overtime in the heat of summer.

How Much Water, When?
Water roses deeply first thing in the morning twice a week in the hottest, dog days of summer. The thick layer of mulch will keep precious water from evaporating or the top of the soil from drying out. Water applied first thing in the morning will certainly be dry before nightfall, too, which reduces the chance that disease might set in.

If you don't know how much water your system delivers, set out washed tuna cans here and there. Check them every 20 minutes. When they've accumulated an inch of water, check with a sharp shovel or probe to see how deeply an inch of water penetrated in that time. You want the entire root zone moistened. If the soil isn't wet at least 6 inches deep, turn the water back on.

What About Food?
Rosarians often cut back on nutrients, especially nitrogen, during the hottest days. Just like you, roses prefer light meals on sweltering days.


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