Geraldine van Wyk of Bloemfontein writes: My ‘Thuli Madonsela’ roses are suffering in the heat, in spite of regular watering. How can I keep them looking fresh?
Ludwig replies: Roses, like people, appreciate a cooling shower when it is very hot. Put on the sprinkler for about 10 minutes during the hottest part of the day or spray lightly with a hand-held hose. This cools down the plants and the immediate environment. Roses don’t mind their leaves getting wet and in hot weather they dry off so quickly there’s no danger of fungal disease. Roses need 15–20L of water a week (including grey water) during the hot months if there is no rainfall. Also make sure that the water is getting to the roots of the rose. If the soil is compact, push the fork into the ground around the rose and wiggle it, loosening to a depth of 30cm. Lightly tilling compost into the topsoil will help too; water well afterwards.