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Frequently Asked Questions


About Our Products & Services:
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  1. Why should I purchase "Professional Garden Care Products"?
  2. Are "Professional Garden Care Products" more dangerous than retail products?
  3. Do you have a soil testing service?
  4. Why should I have my soil tested?
  5. What is leaf tissue analysis?
  6. Do you offer leaf tissue analysis?
  7. Should I use the same pesticide over and over again?
  8. Can you recommend a spray program that will fit in my rose garden?
  9. How long can I store the pesticides I've purchased?
  10. Why do you stock so many different types of fertilizer?
  11. You carry so many pesticides, how do I choose the right one for me?
  12. Do you stock anything other than rose related products?
  13. Will your company spray my roses for me?
  14. Safety Rules - what rules should I follow?
  15. Measuring Guide - how do I measure pesticides and fertilizers?

Pruning Your Roses

  1. When do I cut back my roses?
  2. How far back do I prune my roses?
  3. Do I prune my climbers the same way I prune my bush roses?
  4. How far down do I cut the stems when I'm dead-heading my rose bushes?

General Rose Care & Culture

  1. How much sun do roses require?
  2. How do I water my Roses?
  3. Should I spray the foliage with water when I water?
  4. Is it a good idea to use mulches in the rose garden?
  5. Can roses grow in any type of soil?
  6. What is the ideal fertilizer for my roses?
  7. How often should I fertilize my roses?
  8. Can I over-fertilize my roses?
  9. Is Epsom Salts a fertilizer?
  10. Are some roses more resistant to disease than others?
  11. Are some roses more resistant to insects than others?
  12. Can I grow my roses from cuttings?
  13. Are roses compatible with other plants in my garden?
  14. How do I protect my roses during the winter?

Gardening Nomenclature

  1. What is a complete fertilizer?
  2. What is a loam soil?
  3. What is Humus?
  4. What is pH?
  5. Are patented roses better than non patented roses?
  6. What are adjuvants?
  7. What are bareroot roses?
  8. What is the difference between disbudding and deadheading?
  9. What is chelate?
  10. What is the difference between "systemic" and "contact" pesticides?
  11. What are minor or micro nutrients?
  12. What are secondary nutrients?
  13. What are the major or macro nutrients?

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About our Products & Services:

  1. Why should I purchase "Professional Garden Care Products"?

    Availability; the most effective rose protection products are used by rose growing professionals and are not packaged for retail sales. We sell these professional products and we've made them available to you, the rose enthusiast!

    Practicality; most retail products are packaged to mix small quantities of diluted spray. This works if you have just a few roses, but if you have a large rose collection it's not practical. Professional rose care products will make large quantities of diluted spray. This is more practical and the most economical way to purchase materials for pest prevention programs needed to produce the highest quality rose gardens.

    Economy; in some cases the active ingredient is identical; for example, our Orthene WSP has the same active ingredient as Ortho Orthene. The difference is the percentage active ingredient (ours 8 times higher) and the cost (ours 9 times less) per gallon of diluted spray.

    Options; typically retail products offer just a couple of alternatives for pest and disease prevention or control. For Powdery mildew alone, we offer over a dozen different alternatives (organic, synthetic, contact or systemic) and can tailor a program to fit your specific needs. This is especially valuable for disease and pest organisms that may develop resistance if the same pesticide is used over and over again.

  2. Are "Professional Garden Care Products" more dangerous than retail products?
    No, the pesticides we sell are non restricted which makes them available to the general public. That is not to say pesticides do not have any inherent danger. As with any tool there are specific instructions and safety measures that must be followed. Always read and follow the instructions on the label before any application. We recommend you print and post in your chemical storage cabinet our page on RoseCare Ten Safety Rules to follow when mixing, measuring and applying pesticides

  3. Do you have a soil testing service?
    Yes, our soil testing program is designed to analyze, report on and make recommendations for the soil in your rose garden. (see the Testing Services Page)

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  5. Why should I have my soil tested?
    A complete soil analysis enables us to customize a fertilizer program to fit your rose garden. There are many reasons why the soil in your garden is unique. Soil is made of the parent rock from which it came. Your water source contains specific minerals. Annual rainfall, organic matter, pH, salt content all contribute to the uniqueness of your soil, and the success of your roses growing in it. The way you fertilize also has a tremendous affect. If the fertilizer you're using isn't meeting your expectations, it's possible it is no longer supplying the specific needs of your roses. A soil analysis is an invaluable tool for growing the highest quality flowers. This report might suggest we make specific recommendations, to alter pH, or reduce sodium content. A soil analysis could tell us if your soil is deficient in Magnesium, or if you've been applying excessive phosphorus. This information is critical for creating the best possible growing conditions for spectacular roses.

  6. What is leaf tissue analysis?
    Leaf tissue analysis is a tool that has been used for years in production agriculture. It involves sending samples from the foliage of your roses to our lab. Lab analysis of this foliage combined with a soil test enables us to more accurately identify problems with plant nutrition and fine tune fertilizer recommendations for your specific plants.

  7. Do you offer leaf tissue analysis?
    Yes we do. (see the Testing Services Page)

  8. Should I use the same pesticide over and over again?
    No, insects, mites and disease organisms can develop resistance to a specific pesticide if that product is used over and over again. Resistance can eventually lead to product failure and the creation of a "superbug". This is one of the reasons we carry such a wide assortment of plant protection chemicals. By offering alternatives we can create spray programs to disrupt the target pests ability to build resistance.

  9. Can you recommend a spray program that will fit in my rose garden?
    Yes we can. (see Custom Spray Program Questionnaire)

  10. How long can I store the pesticides I've purchased?
    Not all pesticides break down at the same speed. Some are very stable compounds and when stored properly can last for years. We think the best advice is to keep them tightly sealed, locked in a cool dark place and purchase no more than you're capable of using in a two year time period.

  11. Why do you stock so many different types of fertilizer?
    Our wide array of fertilizers allows us to customize feeding programs for your specific needs. B. Our inventory has made us a reliable source for those sometimes "hard-to-find" fertilizers recommended by local, regional and national rosarians. C. We've discovered many rose growing enthusiasts have developed their own "secret formulas" for feeding their roses and we like the idea of being the source for them as well.

  12. You carry so many pesticides, how do I choose the right one for me?
    The first step for choosing the appropriate plant protection product is to correctly identify the pest. features a comprehensive picture gallery with descriptions for all of the common insects and diseases affecting roses. The gallery and descriptions can link you to the appropriate products registered to control them. On our site you'll find the information needed to complete the following checklist which will help you determine which product(s) best fits your situation.
    --Read the product label to see if it lists your particular problem(s).
    --Review the rates to calculate how many total gallons of spray mixture the product will make. If it is packaged in a quantity greater than you can use within a two year time period, choose another product.
    --Not all pesticides are the same and will exhibit one or more of the following qualities: They may work on contact, or can be locally systemic or completely systemic. They may have curative properties, or only work as protectants. They could be organic, synthetic, mineral, biological, synthetic/organic or combinations of the above. Preference for one or more of these qualities will help you select one product over another.
    --Look for alternative uses on other turf and ornamental pests common in your landscape. Multiple landscape uses may provide advantages for one product over another.
    --Check the chemical group. Rotating two or three materials from different chemical classes will reduce the chances of building resistance.
    --Check for ease of use, some professional products are very concentrated and may require difficult to use measuring or handling equipment.
    --Check cost per gallon of mixed spray. When more than one product meets your criteria, select the material with the lowest cost per gallon of mixed spray.

  13. Do you stock anything other than rose related products?
    Absolutely, we sell plant care products for all your gardening needs, structural pesticides and supplies for destructive and nuisance pests. (see About

  14. Will your company spray my roses for me?
    Yes we will. If you live in Santa Barbara, CA and the immediate area we have a professional application crew available to serve you. (see our questionnaire for Custom Spraying)

  15. See out Ten Safety Rules: Print this useful safety page and post in your greenhouse, garage or potting shed.

  16. See our helpful Measuring Tables for Mixing Pesticide: You can print these useful conversion charts to refer to when mixing.

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Pruning Your Roses

  1. When do I cut back my roses?
    It depends on where you live, and just how cold it gets there. In mild winter areas we generally recommend pruning back in the winter in January or February. In colder climates light pruning may be necessary to prepare you plants for cold weather insulation but the final pruning is done in the Spring after the danger of hard frost has past.

  2. How far back do I prune my roses?
    For mild winter areas hybrid teas and grandifloras have a much greater range for pruning height than those grown in cold winter climates. In most cases these plants can be cut back as low as 18" or as high as 4 ft. In either case select four or five healthy evenly spaced canes and prune those down to a bud at the desired height facing the exterior of the bush. This will cause the new canes to develop outwardly producing an open more desirable shape. In colder climates drying winds and freezing temperatures will cause winter die-back of the canes which will dictate the final pruning height.

  3. Do I prune my climbers the same way I prune my bush roses?
    Climbers are generally divided into two basic groups. One time bloomers and repeat bloomers. One time bloomers are pruned after flowering similar to the way you would prune your bush roses. Select the 4 or 5 strongest canes and remove the rest, cut these canes back to 5 leaflet leaves and tie them back up. On repeat bloomers prune at the same time as your bush roses keeping the 4 or 5 strongest canes. Prune back the secondary branchlets back to the first 5 leaflet bud as these will produce next years flower.

  4. How far down do I cut the stems when I'm dead-heading my rose bushes?
    Dead-heading spent flowers is done to channel the plants energy into new growth and flowers rather than producing seed. When the flowers are simply picked off the new stems produced may not adequately support the nest flower. Cut the old stem back to a five leaflet leaf with a stem at least pencil diameter. This will ensure adequate support for the successive stem.

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General Rose Care & Culture

  1. How much sun do roses require?
    Roses prefer full sun but will perform well with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. This question is particularly pertinent for the gardener who may not have the open space for a formal rose garden and has to select from the side of their house with the most appropriate exposure. In areas with intense summer heat, morning sun is preferable. Summer heat and intense sun may produce smaller and paler blossoms. In areas that do not have the intense summer heat choose the area with the most direct sunlight hours. Roses can grow in the shade, but don't bother, they are usually spindly, unattractive, produce few if any blooms, and are more susceptible to insect and disease problems.

  2. How do I water my Roses?
    One of the most frequently asked and difficult questions to answer is how often and how much do I water my roses? On average roses need 1 to 2 inches of water every 7 to 10 days. That being said the best way to water is to develop a schedule for the specific conditions in your garden. Quantity and frequency are determined by soil texture, season, climate, exposure and the growth stage of your plants. Light (sandy) soils will need more water and frequent watering than heavy (clay) soils. During the heat of the summer your roses will need more water and frequent watering than during the cooler times of the year. How you supply water is not very important, however the depth of watering is. Roses should be watered to a minimum depth of 6 inches but ideally to 18 inches. This could take several hours with a drip system or a few minutes with a flood system. In either case do not water beyond runoff. To check if water has penetrated to the appropriate depth allow it to soak in for a couple of hours. Then dig near the roots and measure the depth your soil was moistened. This can be done with a shovel, trowel or the easiest way is with a soil moisture probe (see Oakfield Soil Sampler). Example: if your water ran for 10 minutes and the soil was moistened to a depth of 6 inches, your roses will need to be watered two more sets of ten minutes to reach the ideal depth of 18 inches. A deep thorough watering will last on average a week to ten days. To establish a watering schedule the soil should be checked for soil moisture content in 4 or 5 days and everyday thereafter until the appropriate watering interval can be established. This can be done with sight or touch but more accurately with a tensiometer (see Irrometer). For those of you who love to cook the use of soil samplers or tensiometers is similar to slicing your turkey open to see if it's done (soil sampler accurate with experience) or sticking the turkey with a meat thermometer to check the temperature (Irrometer very accurate no experience necessary).

  3. Should I spray the foliage with water when I water?
    Most rosarians recommend keeping water off the foliage. This is because wet foliage creates favorable conditions for certain foliage and flower diseases. If you do have an overhead watering system we recommend your irrigation cycle run in the morning so your roses have ample time to dry before evening. Roses can benefit from the occasional spraying of the foliage. Powdery Mildew for example is inhibited when water is present on the foliage. Spider mites and aphids (a soft bodied insect) can be physically knocked off with a strong blast of the cold water in a early morning hose.

  4. Is it a good idea to use mulches in the rose garden?
    Absolutely, there are many reasons for a thick layer of mulch (2 to 4"). Mulch reduces evaporation conserving water, prevents weeds, helps regulate soil temperature, may have aesthetic value, can be a source of organic matter and in some cases nutrient contribution. There are many different materials that can be used for mulch each with its own special qualities and advantages. The most cost effective is usually what is most readily available in your area. In cold climates organic mulches can be turned in as a source of organic material in the fall and replaced in the spring. In warm climates mulches can be left the year around and added to as thickness is lost to decomposition. Mulches should not be buried up on the canes, the moist conditions may encourage disease.

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  6. Can roses grow in any type of soil?
    Yes, but they will perform best in slightly acid (6.0 to 6.8), rich in organic matter, loam soil, with excellent drainage. If your soil is sandy or clay it can be improved with the addition of organic matter. Soil pH can be raised with the addition of lime beginning with an application 6 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. or lowered beginning with 2 lbs. of sulfur per 100 sq. ft. If your soil is extremely poor, consider building 18" raised beds or removing and replacing existing soil to a depth 18 inches.

  7. What is the ideal fertilizer for my roses?
    The ideal fertilizer would supply and maintain all the necessary nutrients for optimum growth throughout the entire growing season, under the unique conditions of your rose garden. Ideally this fertilizer would match your personal gardening philosophy whether it be organic or synthetic and would fit your lifestyle whether it be rose gardening fanatic or I got better things to do with my time rose fancier. There is no specific fertilizer that would meet this criteria. We can recommend a fertilizer program using a combination of materials with the aid of soil and leaf tissue analysis, and knowledge of your personal gardening style or preferences.

  8. How often should I fertilize my roses?
    It could be as often as every time you water or as little as once a year. This depends on many variables such as: Your commitment and expectations, the type of soil you have, the climate and to some extent the season. It depends on the rate or type of fertilizer, whether they're potted roses, a new planting, an established rose garden, if you're feeding modern hybrids or hardy wild roses. Rose fertilizers come in many forms and formulations that can satisfy these variables; organic, synthetic, complete, balanced, slow release, fast acting, liquid, dry, granular, pelletized, powder, water soluble, foliar spray, topdress or soil incorporated. Our wide selection of type and form is what enables us to tailor a rose feeding program to meet your specific needs and confidently answer your question. How often should I fertilize my roses?

  9. Can I over-fertilize my roses?
    Definitely, fertilizer toxicity can have an adverse effect on your plants directly or may cause environmental damage. Major nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and sulfur in excess will cause marginal leaf burn. Excessive levels of phosphorus, calcium and iron will interfere with the availability of other nutrients. Minor nutrients like zinc, copper, and boron will cause leaf drop if over applied. Some nutrient toxicity's are deceiving causing symptoms identical to nutrient deficiencies making diagnosis without soil analysis impossible. If the same fertilizer is used exclusively over a long period of time soil pH can be adversely affected, specific nutrients may build to toxic levels, or excess nutrients could be leached into underground aquifers. This question raises an excellent argument for annual soil testing as part of your fertilizer program.

  10. Is Epsom Salts a fertilizer?
    Epsom salts is the common name for magnesium sulfate which in adequate supply can produce bigger flowers and healthier plants. Both magnesium and sulfur are essential elements for plant growth. It has been suggested by garden writers, extension people, and rose enthusiasts that roses require higher than normal levels of magnesium seldom found in complete fertilizers.

  11. Are some roses more resistant to disease than others?
    Yes, just as some people are more resistant to cold or flu. If you're searching for disease resistant varieties, our gallery of roses lists disease resistance in the general description. Remember disease resistance does not suggest they are immune to disease, only that these varieties are less likely to develop problems than varieties that are described as being susceptible, or do not mention being resistant. It's also important to understand your roses may be more susceptible to certain diseases because of regional climatic conditions. If you plant a variety that is particularly susceptible to Powdery Mildew and you live in an area where conditions are not favorable for the disease, resistance to Powdery Mildew would not be important. Another source for this information is to check out roses growing in your area for the absence or presence of disease symptoms. Questioning friends, neighbors, and other rose enthusiasts will give you insight into disease resistance or problems in your area.

  12. Are some roses more resistant to insects than others?
    Yes, similar to disease resistance certain varieties do seem to be more susceptible to insect attack. You will have to gather this information through personal experience or the experience of others. Remember maintaining healthy plants will keep your roses more resistant to and recover quicker from insects and disease.

  13. Can I grow my roses from cuttings?
    Roses are budded in order to assure the healthiest, most vigorous root system on every variety. There are however, a few commercial varieties being grown on their own roots. That being said, almost any variety can be grown from cuttings. Keep in mind you may not have the same long term success as with plants purchased from commercial producers.

  14. Are roses compatible with other plants in my garden?
    Yes, roses are compatible with other plants in the garden as long as they have the same basic cultural requirements. Keep in mind your roses will need regular maintenance regimens to keep them looking their best. This would preclude edible plants because of needed spray programs, or shrubs that grow large enough to shade them culturally.

  15. How do I protect my roses during the winter?
    In mild winter areas no winter protection is needed. In colder climates the level of insulation is dependant on the severity of the cold weather. It is always a good idea to check out what other rose fanciers are doing in your area. In most cases, some light pruning is needed to physically tie up the plants. There are many ways to insulate your plants, first some type of container or barrier is needed to keep the organic insulation in place. There are commercial containers available, but it is common practice to fashion your own container using chicken wire, roofing felt, burlap or other suitable materials. The graft union is the most critical area and soil should be mounded up above the graft union either on the inside or on the outside the barrier. The canes should be covered with a light insulation material of peat moss, bark chips, coarse leaves or straw. In very severe winter areas the plants may have to be completely buried. This is accomplished by loosening one side of the root system and laying the plant down to bury.
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Gardening Nomenclature

  1. What is a complete fertilizer?
    A complete fertilizer simply means it contains the major (macro) nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Prominently displayed on the front of any complete fertilizer package are three numbers. These numbers refer to the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium respectively. The most common ratio sold for roses is a 1-2-1 ratio, for example 5-10-5.
  2. What is a loam soil?
    A loam soil is soil composed of equal parts sand, silt, and clay.

  3. What is Humus?
    Humus is the end product of decomposed organic matter. At this stage it resists further decomposition, is dark brown in color and unrecognizable from its original form. Humus is a important component for good soil, it improves drainage, aeration, water and nutrient holding capacity..

  4. What is pH?
    The simplistic explanation to describe pH is: It's a scale measured in tenths used to describe the relative acidity or alkalinity of soil. The scale reads from 0 to 14 with 0 being the most acid, 7 being neutral and 14 being the most alkaline. One full point in either direction describes a ten fold increase or decrease in acidity. Therefore a pH of 4.8 is ten times more acid than a pH of 5.8 and 100 times more acid than a pH of 6.8. This is important because pH tells us what minerals (if present) are available to your plants. For example, it's possible to have an iron rich soil and an iron deficient plant at the same time if the pH is too high. The point at which all elements if present are most readily available is 6.5. Roses like most landscape plants, prefer slightly acid soils with pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.8.

  5. Are patented roses better than nonpatented roses?
    No. Patented roses are the same as non patented roses only newer. When rose hybridizers develop a new rose it can be patented the same as one would patent a promising invention. Plant patents last for 17 years and during that time the patent owner is entitled to royalties off every offspring from their plant. By law all patented plants must be labeled with the patent number stamped on a tag attached to the plant. Many new roses are patented every year and promising varieties are allotted valuable space in production fields. As new varieties are planted, older varieties must be eliminated. If a rose is non patented it has stood the test of time, selling successfully for at least 17 years.

  6. What are adjuvants?
    Adjuvants are spray additives used to enhance the efficacy of plant protection products. Some allow the chemicals to penetrate the waxy cuticle of the foliage or protective coverings of insect pests. Some are designed to spread the chemicals evenly, or stick to the plant surface. Some have buffering qualities that prolong the life of the chemical in the spray mix, and some adjuvants have plant protection qualities unto themselves.

  7. What are bareroot roses?
    Bareroot roses are dormant plants sold without soil. Because roses are deciduous plants, they can be successfully field grown and harvested. This efficient method of mass producing roses allows the grower to produce high quality stock at much lower costs than container grown stock. Roses are harvested delivered and sold "bareroot" or without soil only during the winter season. Lower production costs allows the rose retailer to provide a wider selection and better price during bareroot season for the rose fancier.

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  9. What is the difference between disbudding and deadheading?
    What is the difference between disbudding and deadheading? Disbudding is the technique used by cut flower growers or exhibition hobbyist to produce the largest, best quality long stem cutting rose possible. It involves pinching the secondary buds as soon as possible so all the energy is focused on a single flower per stem. Deadheading is the process of pruning off dead or fading flowers. These stems are generally cut back to the first outward facing 5-leaflet leaf, at a 45 degree angle, 1/4" above the leaf.

  10. What is chelate?
    Chelates are organic chemicals added to metal nutrients like iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium and copper to keep them from being "tied up" in the soil. Chelating agents lengthen the time these essential nutrients remain available to the plant.

  11. What is the difference between "systemic" and "contact" pesticides?
    Contact pesticides kill the target organism on contact or from the outside of the plant. Systemic pesticides may also work on contact but additionally work within the "system" or inside the plant. Some systemic pesticides are foliar applied some are soil applied, all protect the host by making them resistant or hostile to the target organism for a prescribed length of time.

  12. What are minor or micro nutrients?
    These are the essential nutrients (boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc) that are needed only in small amounts. They are sometimes referred to a trace minerals..

  13. What are secondary nutrients?
    Calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are referred to as secondary nutrients because they're used in greater quantities than micro nutrients. They are commonly listed with micro nutrients on the fertilizer label.

  14. What are the major or macro nutrients?
    Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium sometimes referred to as N, P, K are the essential nutrients plants require in relatively large amounts. Fertilizers containing one or more of these primary nutrients are those that make the "grade or analysis" of a fertilizer. Grade is stated prominently of the front of the fertilizer package in terms of guaranteed percentages of N, P & K.

  15. How much influence does the pH of the water in the spray tank have upon insecticide or fungicide activity?
    It is very important to know the pH level of the water used to mix insecticides or fungicides. Many pesticides breakdown rapidly in alkaline water. This decomposition is caused from a condition known as alkaline hydrolysis. Hydrolysis can be prevented by adjusting the pH of the spray solution prior to adding the pesticide. This can be done with buffers or acid forming soluble fertilizers.


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