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Is there time to save my minis? My green thumb turned brown.

Hi - newbie here. I've read the posts like “I killed it…again “with amusement and understanding. (I'm there!) I’ve found lots of good advice, need help applying it to the Southwest US desert. Please forgive the length, but want to give you as much info as possible.

The trouble is/was with my container planted mini roses that are growing on my south facing balcony. My storage shed blocks late afternoon sun, and a shade cloth awning is over the center to filter midday sun, so humidity (dry) and sunlight (8-9 hrs) is not a problem. Nor is heat (yet) as things started when weather was mild.

Last September I got 5 various mini-roses, transplanted them to 8 in pots, some a commercial pot soil, and some in mixed with organic pot soil. I put those pots in lined cache pots, added mulch and watered them every week -10 days. They did beautifully all fall and winter. In February I noticed some yellowing and brown leaves and some fruit-fly looking bugs about them so I sprayed with an insecticidal soap, then Neem the following week. The leaves then looked a bit burned, so I removed damaged leaves, trimmed back the branches a couple of inches, repotted to 10 in., and fed with a commercial Rose Food, exactly as instructed. A week later, the rest of the leaves fell off, but got lots of new growth for a few days. That then wilted and all but one plant died almost overnight. As the one seemed to recover a little, I decided to try again. Thinking that the insect spray or over fertilizing was the problem, I repotted them in the same commercial potting soil. The survivor chose this time to croak.

The new roses seemed fine at first, other than leaf cutter bees finding them a delicacy. Then 2 weeks ago, I noticed the leaves turning brown (again!)-almost burned looking-on the outer ends. (One “Karinaâ€

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Mystery solved, maybe saved

It took trips to 2 DIY stores garden depts, and 2 independant nurseries to narrow it, but Jess' answer to carmeljacques Jun 14, 2007 Post :"Wrong planting mix?" nailed it
Commercial potting compost usually contains a lot of peat which holds moisture rather too well.....They need a free draining open soil to grow in so either add some grit/sand or perlite to your compost

Due to temperatures on the balcony getting in the 80s (even in Feb.-Mar.) and low humidity (8-12%) , the root balls were dried out on the top, and soaked on the bottom. so they were both over and underwatered.

One of the nursuries has a huge line of organic soils, amendments, fertilizers, etc. We came up with a blend of a couple of soils, based on the consistency on the sandy mixture that nursuries pot their roses in. So the minis are repotted in all organic, seem happy so far (crossed fingers) we'll see !

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:50 pm
Location: England

Hi :D

I am glad in a roundabout way I helped you. :D

I tend to leave the rose questions to JPIXI as he is far more of an expert on them than me but he must have missed your post or not been able to reply.

I detest the word "multi-purpose" ("commercial" in your case)when it comes to compost. No compost will suit every plant and as far as I am concerned the only thing it is any good for is bedding!

I am sure your roses will all grow well now as it sounds like your medium is just right for them.

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Hi Jess :)

Thanks for the kind thoughts! Its early days, yet, but I think the minis have a fighting chance at least. It was roundabout ,lol, decided to search soil and sand when I was pointed that way. I'm sure JPIXI would have helped, there just wasn't time.

I'm glad I found the site, and I'm sure I'll have more to ask in the future :lol:



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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 7:54 am
Location: France, Paris

Hello Caro,

I regret that I do not have any experience with mini roses at all. I could not grow them because my garden is on a slope, the mini will be washed away. However, I have enquired from a friend who owes quite a lot of minis and she told me the below:

1. Should I amend/replace the soil?
Mini roses prefer to be slightly lifted in container. If the mini is too much lower than the rim of the container, it will easily rot due to poor air circulation.

2.Can I re-transplant if done as gently as possible?
Mini roses generally do not like to be transplanted too often. They have more difficulty in settling down unlike the hybrid. If you really need to transplant it out of emergency, do it right after sunset when the temperature is at the lowest. After transplant, wrap a wet towel around the pot to ensure te temperature do not increase for a week: if transplant is done during summer.It is to reduce the transplant shock.

3. Should the mulch and cachepots stay or go? Is there something else I should try?
Mulching rose is always good.

4. If it a pest issue, how to spray? Can neem of insecticidal soap burn? Should I wet the leaves first?
Never wet the leaves if you are not treating the roses. For any kind of treatment, you must try to keep to the dosage and always do the treatment after sunset to avoid burning the rose.Personally I like to boil lavander leaves, cool it and use as pest's repellant for my roses.

Hope it helps.


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Bonjour Pixi :)

Thank you and your friend so much ! Your suggestions will really help.

The minis had to be transplanted-they looked quite bad. In this very dry and hot (last week 38C., today 46!) desert air, it was impossible to control the moisture in the peat based general potting soil. I also had one still in the growers' pot.

Individual soil amendments are hard to find here, except by the cubic yard :roll:. I made a combination bagged mixes : a fast draining organic cactus/palm mix (sand, pumice, forest products), and an organic composted soil mix (sphagnum, worm castings. forest humus, bone and feather meal, kelp) and added perlite and bit of vermiculite for lightness and drainage with moisture retention. The roots were disturbed as little as possible, and were watered in with a "transplant shock tonic". Five days, and at least they are holding on, no more loss, seem perkier.

They are in double pots with old newprint between, and I will wet those-and place wet papers or rags on the soil as well to help the cedar mulch.

The hard part is resisting watering, but my moisture meter is reading medium low at the top, med. hi at the bottom of the pots...will give it today, maybe til late tonight.

If I need pest control, will try the lavendar spray-I just happen to have lavendar in pots as well, and understand that they like a bit of pruning! As it is so dry here, thought perhaps misting leaves with water before treating-and maybe after might help prevent burn? And I'm sure my Hummingbirds will like it better!



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