A bed of roses

Vinaya Patil
Saturday, 9 September 2017

The flowers that bring much joy to most of us — roses are not too difficult to cultivate, explain gardeners and rose enthusiasts

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you! Reminds us of childhood days, doesn’t it? From our poems, to being the symbol of love and affection, roses have inspired musicians, poets and authors. Even William Shakespeare mentioned roses in his poems and plays.

Roses always bring pleasant images to our mind — that of rose plants, gardens, and bouquets! Much commercialised with their popularity in bouquets, roses got their initial fame in this part of the country, thanks to the efforts of Jayantrao Tilak who founded the Rose Society in 1962.

The aim of the society was to propagate the plantation of roses. “The first rose exhibition was held in a space adjoining the Kesari Wada Ganeshotsav. From gardens to homes, these beautiful flowers can be planted anywhere, as long as there is enough sunlight,” says city-based landscape expert Chandrakant Hanumante. “The Gladiator is one species that is appropriate for our environment. All it needs is direct sunlight,” he says, adding that maintaining these plants is also not a big deal. He also mentions magazines dedicated to rose gardening that one can subscribe to if you are a rose lover and keen on having your own dedicated rose garden.

Following the efforts of Rose Society Pune, the flower was propagated throughout Maharashtra and is now supplied across India from Pune. A number of garden clubs were also started in the state, informs Ravindra Bhide, president of Rose Society Pune, which is all set to host its 100th rose exhibition in the city on September 16 and 17. The exhibition will have 26 stalls which will put up various coloured flowering plants, garden equipments, fertilisers, seeds and pesticides for sale.

Earlier, male rose seeds would be planted in soil and uprooted while selling them. But Nana Joshi, former president of Rose Society, came up with the polybag method after years of research. “The black polythene bags that now carry rose plants are his idea. It saved so many plants from dying due to transportation,” explains Bhide. This method is now followed across the world for rose cultivation.

Speaking of the species of roses, Bhide lists the varieties suitable for our climate. The Gladiator, Double Delight (usually off-white and pink), Veteran’s Honour (orange), Saint Patrick’s (yellow), White Success (white) are some of the varieties that are easily cultivable in our environment. Cluster roses too are famous in India, he says. “Direct sunlight is crucial. If you have around four to six hours of direct sunlight, then you are sorted. You can then use various fertilisers for a better yield.”

Roses prefer a rich, well-drained soil. They like plenty of water and sun and some protection from harsh wind and cold. So when planning a rose garden, look for spots that receive plenty of sun --- preferably the morning sun as it evaporates dew quickly keeping the leaves dry and safe from fungal diseases.

In addition, try and give them plenty of room. Don’t plant them too closely together. This will allow air to circulate and protect them from plant diseases that thrive on moisture. Roses enjoy organic fertilisers. For frequent flowering, use fertilisers monthly throughout the growing season with an all-purpose garden fertiliser. “You can use magnesium sulphate and Diammonium phosphate (DAP),” Bhide says.

Most of the common rose diseases are fungal. You can keep your rose garden secured from these by ensuring good air flow for your plants. That means providing plenty of room between roses --- five feet ideally.

Overcrowding means excessive moisture and giving fungal spores an opportunity to grow.

“If you’re serious about growing roses, join a rose society. It will provide you with access to a huge community of growers and other resources,” concludes Hanumante.

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