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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Climbing plants, Rosa, Disease-resistant plants, Organic gardening

My neighbor wants a rose, but it will be planted in an organic garden. It is a sunny warm spot (for Seattle), but I think disease resistance is a must. What is a source for disease resistant roses for our climate? Also, does growing clematis on a climbing rose limit its disease resistance?

Answer:

The reason that clematis and rose make good companions has to do with the rose providing the structure the clematis needs, and the pairing allowing for interesting combinations of color and shape, rather than one providing disease resistance to the other.

Generally, the most disease-resistant roses are species roses, but there are additional choices.

This article from Oregon State University Extension lists resistant roses and their other qualities (scent, repeat bloom, color).

This article from Washington State University Extension is entitled "Disease-Resistant Roses for the Puget Sound Area."

There are several excellent books on growing roses in our area:

North Coast Roses : For the Maritime Northwest Gardener by Rhonda Massingham Hart (Seattle : Sasquatch Books, c1993)

Jackson & Perkins Beautiful Roses Made Easy : Northwestern Edition by Teri Dunn & Ciscoe Morris. (Nashville, Tenn. : Cool Springs Press, 2004)

Roses for the Pacific Northwest by Christine Allen (Vancouver : Steller Press, 1999)

Roses for Washington and Oregon by Brad Jalbert, Laura Peters (Edmonton : Lone Pine Pub., 2003)

Roses for the Inland Northwest. Washington State University Extension ; [Washington, D.C.] : U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, [2004])

This book is a comprehensive guide to combining clematis and roses: The Rose and the Clematis As Good Companions by John Howells ; photographs by the author ; flower arrangements by Ola Howells (Woodbridge : Garden Art Press, 1996)

All of these titles are available in the Miller Library.

Date 2017-05-10
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Weed control, Organic gardening, Mulching, Herbicides

A common question we get at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library is How do I kill weeds without hand digging but without using toxic chemicals? Further discussion with the gardener reveals he wants to buy a product that he can spray on the weeds, once. Organic gardeners have it easier now compared to a decade ago, with a number of less-toxic weed killers on the market, but the fact is not one of these products is a magic bullet.

  • Corn Gluten Meal (Concern's Weed Prevention Plus and Whitney Farm's Weed Whompin Mulch) is a natural product that prevents seeds from rooting once sprouted. The downside is that it doesn't work during rainy weather. Another consideration is that recent studies show it acts as fertilizer because it is rich in nitrogen, so in garden beds it may actually increase weeds. Its best use would be for weeds in lawns, according to an article in Organic Gardening, Aug/Oct 2008.
  • Potassium salts of fatty acids (Safer Superfast Weed & Grass Killer) kills the tops of all plants, but not the roots. It works best on annual weeds like chick-weed and bitter cress, but would have to be repeated a few times to kill perennial weeds with root reserves, such as dandelion.
  • Pelargonic acid herbicide (Scythe) is another type of fatty acid, similar to soap, that kills weeds by drying out the leaves. As mentioned above this product works best on annual or biennial weeds and must be reapplied a few times to kill perennials.
  • Vinegar from the kitchen doesn't kill weeds, only disfigures them. Commercial products (Burnout, Bradfield's Horticultural 20% Vinegar) work if used in hot weather, but are quite caustic and great caution must be used not to inhale the fumes or spray the skin. Natural, yes, but toxic.
What does it take to get rid of weeds? A multi-pronged approach: physically remove weeds when they are young, reapply mulch every year, shade weeds out with desirable plants, and don't let weeds go to seed.

The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides publishes excellent articles on non-toxic pest control. Two good articles on weed management are available free online: Managing Weeds in Shrub and Flower Beds and Landscape Weed Control

Date: 2007-04-03
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May 16 2018 11:15:37