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Bigger Flowers!

SoFL Rose z10
8 years ago

Hi all. I am wondering how on earth I can get my roses to produce bigger blooms. It seems like when I purchase them they always have lots of big beautiful flowers. But once they get their second flush they are small and scrawny by comparison.
I know my plants are healthy and I fertilize regularly. But a recent conversation I had with the owners of Cool Roses in South FL has me thinking I can do more. He says rose society members/exhibitors use much larger doses of fertilizers to get those huge blooms. So my question is how much can I really get away with in terms of heavy feeding before I put my plants in danger? I grow them all in planters and I think I may need to feed more than usual to get the big flowers I'm looking for.
I currently give them one cup of rose tone every 3 months (half a cup if the plant is young). And I follow up with miracle grow liquid rose food about every other week. I also add about a tablespoon of slow release to each pot every 6 months or so. We have a continuous growing season here pretty much all year round so I feed them year round.

Comments (13)

  • wirosarian_z4b_WI
    8 years ago

    I am not a rose shower but I know some people who are & they fertilize much heavier than what you are doing. The ones I know feed about every 6 weeks plus use some high P fertilizer supplement to boost bloom size. Roses usually give their biggest blooms in the cooler fall & spring bloom cycles, my hot weather summer blooms are always the smallest.

  • frenchcuffs13
    8 years ago

    Hi, here is a link to an article written by Kitty Belendez regarding container roses and how to feed them, etc. I found it very helpful and hope you do to.

    http://scvrs.homestead.com/ContainerGrownRoses.html

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  • SoFL Rose z10
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Hi All
    Thanks for the great advice.
    Michael, I do know that heat has something to do with my smaller flowers. That is definitely true. I notice in the summer I may get more blooms but they are smaller and they also open/die faster. Heat accelerates everything when it comes to plants so that makes sense too.
    My problem is however that my roses are blooming smaller than they should over all. I know Jude The Obscure has a certain size flower, for example, and when I purchased my rose bush all the blooms were the correct size, 3-4 inches but ever since then I cant seem to get blooms that are as big. They are all like 2 inches some 2.5 but none are as large as when I got the plant. Once in a while I'll get a larger bloom but on average they are that small. The same goes for all my other roses too. Even in the cooler months I never really quite get blooms the size they are said to be. I'm perplexed!
    Do nurseries force flower them or something to get them to bloom bigger? Is it just my climate do you think? The roses I bought at Cool Roses were all large and beautiful (its only 45 min north of me) and now that they are all on their second and third flush they are all small :( This has happened to me with all the roses I have purchased that were potted and in bloom. They all seem to bloom smaller for me than they did for the nursery when I bought them. This makes me feel like there's something I must not be doing right. Despite the temps.

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    Are the roses you are talking about fairly new roses--like one season or less in your garden? If so, time, maturity, patience--and the better developed root system that results-- will probably eliminate most of the problem you are worrying about. Many roses--perhaps most roses--need to be in the ground for about THREE YEARS before they reach maturity.

    Roses are not annuals that develop quickly, quickly bloom their hearts out, and die all in one season. I guarantee you that your roses may look considerably different in three years--which is what a long-lived rose needs.

    And if you are referring to any climbers, they take 3-5 years to reach a decent maturity.

    Kate

  • SoFL Rose z10
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    So, now I'm being told that over fertilizing can cause rose proliferation which may be happening to my roses right now!
    I just posted another thread about it.
    See the link below but boy, are you darned if you do and darned if you don't!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Rose Proliferation?

  • michaelg
    8 years ago

    I do not believe that fertilizer causes proliferation. It is a genetic predisposition of some varieties that is expressed under certain weather conditions. I suppose someone made a guess that the proliferating flower had--too much energy?-- which must have come from fertilizer; this notion sounded plausible, so others repeated it. But "you can't prove a negative," so I could be wrong.

    It sounds to me as though you are fertilizing adequately for Florida but not excessively.

    What kind of soil is in the planters? Have you checked the pH? Are the plants growing strongly? Are the leaves a solid deep green?

  • SoFL Rose z10
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Hi Michaelg
    Yes my roses look healthy for the most part (some get tons of BS and defoliate but I dont expect huge lush roses from defoliated plants). I put them in Miracle Grow potting mix. Its nice and airy but retains water pretty well. I don't feel like my roses are unhealthy. They bloom happily and grow quickly and get very big. I do agree that they may be young. I just started growing roses about 2 years ago. But when i purchase plants from the nursery (or Cool Roses) they are young as well and they still have large blooms, so I'm wondering if age has that much to do with it.
    Maybe I'm pruning too often? Our growing season is never ending here so I tend to cut them low (2-3 ft) after each major flush to keep them in size. Do you think this can be harming them? They always bounce right back so I've never felt this was an issue. But i can try letting them get long and lanky if it means bigger flowers. Honestly though, I've never seen this actually work. My Mr. Lincoln is super tall but the flowers are medium sized at best. But I'm willing to try just deadheading for a bit if you think that might help. :) But sometimes the canes get so long that they topple over and break.

  • michaelg
    8 years ago

    Yes, blackspot defoliation and severe pruning could reduce the size of flowers. A plant's energy is manufactured by leaves in sunlight, and fertilizer supplies only a small amount of the raw material. I deadhead hybrid teas deeply myself, but I aim to keep the plants blooming at 4-7' height throughout the season.

    Another consideration is that typical American potting mixes don't last long before they break down into fine muck that shrinks and doesn't drain well. Check the Container Forum for longer lasting "gritty mix." Or use your sandy soil as a base provided your plants are on Fortuniana.

  • jerijen
    8 years ago

    If you've purchased roses in 5-G containers, in bud and bloom, you can safely assume that they've been pushed pretty hard to make them look really lush.

    We finally figured out that -- for the long haul -- we could plant roses like that well, and water them well, and give them a few months to allow their root systems to catch up with all of that top growth.

    We do not feed them at all, during that period. They need to "detox."

    Between heat, and having been over-fed earlier, your roses are doing their best to keep on keepin' on. Don't worry about what the blooms look like, through this summer. Worry about making the plants healthy, so that they can bloom for you for many years to come.

    They'll come around. Be patient with them.

    Jeri

  • seil zone 6b MI
    8 years ago

    There are lots of things that will affect flower size and a lot of them are connected to weather conditions during development. Anything that stresses a rose for any reason will reduce bloom size. Last year we were very warm, sunny and dry and my blooms were huge. This season has been cool, gray and wet and all of my roses seem smaller. There are some things we just can't control.

  • ken-n.ga.mts
    8 years ago

    I grew roses in central Fl. (Winter Haven 1980-1998) and S.E. Fl. (Hollywood 1973-1980 and Port St Lucie 1998-2008). I learned the hard way that you needed foliage on you're roses while you were trying to get flowers. Every time I lost my foliage from black spot or spider mites while I was feeding them, I ended up with small blooms while they were trying to put new foliage back on the bush's. A lot of times even a month or so after the folige was back. If you have a bush that spends several months during it's growing season just fighting to keep foliage on it, you aren't going to get good blooms. I exhibited my roses (all class') so I needed big blooms. A healthy, happy bush will produce good size blooms, sometimes even during the hot humid summer. A top notch exhibitor in Lakeland told me something a long time ago. Stems produce foliage. Foliage keeps the bush healthy during the natural hot, humid summers. Think about this. You buy a water oak about 8' tall with a lot of foliage and new growth. Plant it and let it get settled in for a couple of months (May/June). Go out and strip all the foliage off of it and then throw down a bunch of fertilizer. If it doesn't die, it will put on little, deformed foliage and the tree will probably be stunted for a long time. Just think about what happens to your rose bush every time it looses foliage while it is actively growing and trying to flower. During the first two yrs after I bought a rose, I just took the flower off until the bush was 7'/8'. Then only brought it down to neck high. I also stopped feeding the first part of Nov. and watered the bush's real good Nov., Dec., Jan., & Feb. Usually having good size blooms during this time. The middle of Feb. I would prune the bush's down to waist high and stripped off all the foliage. If I had any basil breaks or new strong lower canes when I pruned, I left them alone. I would start feeding again the first of March and would generally have good big blooms for two bloom cycles before the summer heat kicked in real good. You still have mostly young bush's that are trying to do everything at once. Keep them healthy and happy and give them time to grow up :)

  • jerijen
    8 years ago

    Yes, for Heaven's sake, quit chopping them back.

    You are creating stressed plants.

    Allow them to grow to the stature they're genetically-predetermined to reach. Then, they can quit putting energy into a doomed attempt to grow, and put it into blooms.

    Jeri

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