The Dog Days of Summer

Summer is officially here and with the crazy weather we are experiencing lately, it could mean very hot, hazy and humid conditions with a sputtering of thunderstorms. Summer also means outdoors, parties, vacation and what happens to your poor roses. The Rose Show is over and do you think you can relax a little bit. Just a little! Your roses still need a lot of attention and more so now because they are too stressed out. They want to be cool like you. If you neglect to take care of your roses, then your roses will suffer from heat just as you do. Roses don’t look good in the summer because we don’t take care of them like we do in the spring. With the temperatures hovering into the 90s, there is a strong need for water in the garden. One inch of water is not good enough when the temperature is in the 90’s. Unless, it rains, water at least three times a week with a good soaking. The rain is best because it is super-oxygenated which nourish the roots of the plants and that’s why after a rain, the plants look lush and green. You will notice that your roses perk up right away after being watered. One way to check if your roses need water is to stick a rod in the soil and see how much resistance you get. Compare that with the soil that has been soaked and you’ll see the difference. Just remember light watering will do more harm than good so plan on having that sprinkler on for at least 1 hours. In really, hot, hot weather, give the rose bed an overhead shower to cool them off.

There are few things to remember both for the sake of the Rose and the rosarian who takes care of them. With the searing heat, you have to learn to slow down. Drink a lot of water after a big workout (weeding, deadheading, fertilizing, spraying, etc.) in the garden. Wear protective gear like hat, long sleeves and sunscreen. Try to work early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it is cooler. Be ultra careful when spraying to keep the spray out of your skin, eyes and lungs. Do not spray when the temperature is above 90 degrees. Wear protective mask if at all possible without scaring your neighbor. Regarding fertilization, do not overdo it in the summer. More roses suffer from overfertilization in the summer than from too little. When you water your garden, the water releases the nutrients that are already in your rosebeds. Rosebeds with two or three inches of mulch do not need as much water as the beds without mulch. Mulch is another essential thing we should do for the garden. I find out that shredded cedar mulch is much better mulch than pine bark and it looks better too. Weeding is an essential aspect of gardening. At the height of the summer heat, the weeds are growing at a rapid pace. You must control it, otherwise they take over. I don’t use herbicide so I’m constantly weeding. Some of my flower beds have mulch and some do not.

If you are going on vacation, make sure you include visiting a garden in your plan. Check the list of gardens at Get hold of some books on roses. There are plenty of them around – at your library, at Barnes & Noble or As an author, I recommend my books. They are historical novels based on real-life events. BAHALA NA (Come What May) is based on my dad’s life story and The Iron Butterfly is based on my maternal grandmother’s life. They are both available at They are great reads!


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