Friday, January 28, 2011

Pest Question

Any idea what these are. They look like small round half spheres that are stuck to the branch of my hibiscus. I noticed some bud drop recently and while looking closer to investigate found these guys all over the trunk. Dont know what they are doing there and if that was causing the bud drop.

Any help is appreciated.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Each time I sit down to write about roses, there is some kind of distraction or the other. The empty post with only the title has been sitting in the "edit posts" section for so long. So I thought that at the turn of the year, I can start writing this post.
My wife's favorite flowers are roses. The rose was the first plant that we got in our old house. I had no idea how to maintain it. When we got it from the nursery it had a few buds and some wonderful flowers. Within a week the buds opened and bloomed. And then there were none. Slowly the plant succumbed to pests and died. We got one more (I think it was pink or another shade of red) and it ended up with the same result. Growing roses was going to be harder than I thought. Just watering it was not going to be enough. After talking tp the folks at the nursery I came back home with some urea and chemical pesticides. The chemical pesticides were really strong and I stopped using them. However, the urea turned out to be useful. The next rose plant lasted longer and we saw new buds coming up after a while. After sometime the plant stopped flowering. but there was a lot off foliage. Again slowly it dried out. I then realized that the varieties that have large flowers were not doing well in pots. Similar plants which were grown on the ground did very well and the flowers were blooming profusely. And keeping in my mind that I do not want to waste space with too many large pots I could not grow these very well. So what does a container gardener like me do?

Just as we were giving up on hope of having rose plants in the house, I got some button roses. The yield was good and the plants were blooming once in a while though not as profusely. Once we moved into our new home, I was able to understand the plants better. Roses require sunlight. They were sensitive to water requirements and nutrient requirements. With proper pruning do very well.. The rose is one plant which I am very confident will do well after a good round of pruning. The plants need to be checked for pests regularly. I only use neem oil, soap and a hard spray of water to keep the pests at bay. Refreshing the soil with compost and Rose Mix was required every two weeks(both available at most nurseries). This would keep the plants in good health and slowly lead to growth of "basal canes". Basal canes yield lot of flowers and are very strong. I also noticed that they produce lots of branches and in turn lots of flowers.

I also had to learn the watering pattern for the roses. Sometimes the soil would dry out quickly during summer and the buds would droop down. Immediate watering would help(within a few hours), however if left dry for more than half a day after these flowers droop the plant gets damaged severly and may not recover at all. I will leave you with the pictures of various roses that we have had over time. I have now restricted myself to growing button roses. Have been successful the last 8 months or so. Hope to see this trend continue.

One of the best rose plants we every had. It would have a minimum of 10-15 flowers at any time. We lost the plant to lack of care while moving homes.

The current best performer in my balcony. I had pruned this down to almost a stem last February after a bout of pests. It has been doing very well since then. Second round of pruning due next week.

The "Paneer rose" or the "Scented Rose". Did well initially(nursery syndrome) and then it went down to ants.

Another star performer in the balcony. Multicolor wonder.

Roses are red ofcourse.

This was one big flower which bloomed well. Lost this one during my trip to Singapore.
 The star performer again.

Healthy competition.


In summary,

1. Prune the plant once the flowering season is done. They will take a couple of months to produce new flowers.Watch your skin/clothes while pruning. The thorns can get nasty sometimes.
2. Removing the flowers after they dry helps keep the plant clean. Roses especially look very bad if this is not done regularly.
3. Rose Mix(Organic) application is required on a fortnightly basis. Good compost is also required. The response of the rose plants are directly proportional to the nutrition feeding.
4. Bud roses are good plants for the balcony gardener 
5.  Keep checking for pests. Spider mites get to roses and can bring the plant down quickly.Spray the plants with water once a week or more frequently if pests occur often. Neem oil every fortnight or weekly is good.