Summer without Roses
Most of my rants are about humans and their actions, but not this month. Roses are one of the most high maintenance plants; lots of pruning, watering, etc. Some of the worst and common things that reduce the floral display of these potentially beautiful and often intoxicatingly fragrant plants include: (1) black spot (a fungal leaf disease prevalent in wet years and with excessive aerial watering, especially if done so that leaves are wet during the evening), (2) thrip infestation (flower buds will form but are deformed and will not open), and (3) Japanese beetles. This year (2018) it was thrips early and now one of the worst years I can recall for Japanese beetles resulting in a summer without rose flowers. Most of the sprays (both foliar and systemic) do not help for the Japanese beetles, and play havoc with desirable insects. The biocide may kill the beetles eventually, but the "magic concoction" will not prevent their damage to your plants. Moreover, the biocides can be dangerous to the applicant if safety instructions are not followed. In addition to roses, the Japanese beetles are also devastating to beans, crapemyrtle, grape, larch and linden. The beetles first appear in central Indiana about June 15 and are a problem for about six weeks. I visit the plants they consume frequently (often several time a day) and drown the beetles by knocking them off, or by whole hand cluster gathering and dropping, into a wide mouth container containing soapy water. It is not uncommon for me to collect several hundred individuals each visit to just one Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose, 'Alba'--see above)! And I do this several times a day. There are also traps, but they come with their own issues, especially cost, availability and design/strategy. Alas, there is another option. Get rid of the attractant (roses), which I am seriously considering.