Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hardening Process: The secret to roses survival after purchase

Purchasing rose trees from Cameron Highlands means wasting your money. But that was before. You start collecting roses now that you know the secret of 'hardening process'.

So, what is hardening process?

Hardening off simply means minimizing the extent to which your trees suffer from transition shock or heat stress.

You will need to spend 3 – 4 weeks for this process. 

I define this as a process of gradually acclimating off roses that have been cared under controlled conditions and in hilly areas where the temperature is persistently lower, to the widely variable conditions and higher temperature that the roses will have to face in nature at your home.

Without a hardening process, the leaves on your roses will turn yellow and start to fall off. Worst, your roses will die within few short weeks.


Week 1-2: Roses on sun block mode

Because your roses aren’t used to high temperature in its new place; your garden, you do not want to leave them outside under full direct sun for a very long at first. 

It is re
commended that you put your roses under a covered patio, screen, or car porch for protection. This will minimize the transpiration or sudden loss of moisture, thus reducing the extent of stress.

I noticed that a common confusion among many home gardeners is they believe highland roses need to be grown under shaded area all the time to mimic the original cold environment they come from.

Well, that isn’t so. Roses, no matter where they come from, are in nature are plants hungry for 100% full direct sunlight!

Although they remain to be under shaded area for this week, you must remember to take them out to play under full sun everyday for an hour or two at the most.  Make sure that when you do take them outside, the sun or heat is not too great on them, therefore morning sun is best.

Watering and making sure that your roses receive good air circulation this week is important. If your roses are in an area where it is damp, it is best to keep them dry by placing your rose pots higher (elevated) or shift them to a place slightly warmer.

It also helps to water the plant from above once in a while and wet the underside of leaves too. These are to hinder spider mites from building a
happy colony on your roses.

You can let your roses to finish flowering. Don’t repot or fertilize them just yet.

Week 2-3: The weight lifting stage

This is the stage when you’ll be shifting and lifting the pots the most. 

You'll want to gradually increase the amount of time you leave them under the sun. Ideally, you should wait to put them outside until the warmest part of the day. 

In addition to increasing the amount of time you keep your roses under the sun, you'll also want to move them around so they get more used to the different conditions in less shaded places.

This is to speed up the hardening process and make your roses more familiar with your garden’s environment.

But if you don’t have time to keep shifting the pots every day, you can adopt my method - the lazy way.

That is placing them out into full sun for a whole day every weekend. While in weekdays, I let them sit where they can enjoy the full morning sun but remain shaded the rest of the evening.

Remember that watering remains important so keep watering your roses every day, twice a day.

Week 3-4: 'I need to wear the sunblock' mode

Stock up more sunblock for yourself as you will be out more under the sun.

You will want start off leaving your roses out all day and night for at least a couple of days before you actually place them permanently under full sun or re-potting them to a bigger pot.

You may see that your roses start to grow shoots and buds which is a good sign. You may want to cut the buds off to let the roses focus their energy on getting use to the environment more and produce more greens.

Alternatively you can leave the buds on and just enjoy your first home-made blooms.

This week is finally when you move out your roses into full sun permanently.

You may see that the blooms and leaves size of your roses tend to get smaller than the original. You will see a small reduction in some varieties of roses and bigger reduction in others.

Left Photo 1: A highland rose just purchased. It was red in color on short petals.
Left Photo 2: After hardening. Its color shifts to pinkish in tone but the bloom was lovely as ever.

When your roses flower and stay permanently under full sun, you can begin your normal gardening regime that is fertilizing, repotting, etc.

Rule of thumb

My rule of thumb about hardening process is to use your gardener instinct. Let your plant tell you how it is adapting, if it is adapting well to your method and the place you harden it off, then good, do the next step.

If it doesn’t, then take a step back, slow down and give your rose more time to adapt. The above timeline is just an indication on how you should progress in your process. How well you do depend on many things, you house micro-climate, how well you water your roses, etc.

No MORE dead roses but MORE rose blooms

Hardening off your roses is an essential part of ensuring your roses survival in your garden. By taking the time to harden your roses off, your roses will be able to adapt to the climate conditions much more easily.

The faster your roses can adapt to your house environment, the sooner they'll be able to get on with the job of growing and flowering countless blooms you been waiting to enjoy!

One of the highland roses in my garden. Contrary to the popular belief, highland roses do grow well in our warm and humid gardens. It not only can thrive in my modest garden, but bloom big, beautiful and abundant.

Good luck on that hardening!


Shida said...

Good info.

ROUGH.ROSA said...

Thanks Shida! You are an inspiration to have made me come this far - on having a blog on rose education.