Return of the Roses

So where were the roses? The roses didn't go anywhere, but they suffered the yearly attack of the Japanese Beetles. This year, I tried a different approach in caring for the roses during the invasion.

These are Knock Out™ Roses, which means they are pretty tough and bloom for a long time. As soon as I saw the first beetle, I cut off all of the blooms and a foot of foliage on all seven of the rose bushes. It wasn't pretty! Without the blooms, new buds and new growth to attract the beetles, there were fewer of the pests.

When the beetle population dwindled to just a few, I started up the drip irrigation for an hour a day (we're on a well) until we had a good rainfall. Just prior to the heavy rainfall, I fertilized the roses. Within two weeks of this boost, the roses are now producing new foliage and plenty of buds.

In past years, I've tried picking and dunking the beetles into a bucket of soapy water every morning. It's unpleasant work, tedious and is rather disgusting to do before breakfast!

I've tried organic sprays, too. That required mixing and spraying in the evening when the temperatures were cool. I had to reapply the spray every few days, especially after a rainfall. It worked fairly well, but since the mixture couldn't be sprayed on the blooms, I had to cut those off anyway.

This year's method was the easiest. While the roses looked bad for a month, they have completely recovered and will bloom until Thanksgiving.

This method of beetle protection was without stress, at no cost and definitely organic. I'll always be looking for better solutions. The only other thing that I could think of was to cover the roses with a fine mesh netting. Maybe next year?

Photo and words by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; July 2009


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