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Gardners can eliminate blackspot before it starts


Gardners can eliminate blackspot before it starts

For roses, the 2002 growing season was the worst in living memory. In all parts of the country, blackspot reached epidemic proportions, and in lots of gardens, it defoliated every rose in sight. But many rose gardeners took steps to eliminate blackspot before it started.

The most successful gardeners understand how and when rose diseases might be a problem, and they take steps to prevent them before they can cause damage to the plants. Here's how:

Gardeners are always at the mercy of the weather, so it pays to learn how weather affects roses and other plants. Blackspot is a fungus that attaches itself to the leaves of roses, apples, phlox and many other plants, particularly those in the huge Rosa genus. Benign in hot, dry weather, blackspot lies in wait for cool, moist conditions to spur it into action. Wet water, including dew, on rose leaves for more than four hours will cause blackspot spores to multiply at a furious rate.

Before blackspot is visible to the gardener, it has been working for nearly a month, destroying the leaf and spreading to other leaves on the plant. Amazingly easy to prevent, but nearly impossible to cure, blackspot is best treated preventively.

There are many garden fungicides available that are labeled for blackspot. Needless to say, the most expensive ones work best and have to be sprayed less often, and the cheaper ones aren't as effective and have to be sprayed more often. But the fungicide you buy will depend on the number of plants you have and how often you're willing to spend time spraying.

All the fungicide in the world won't help unless you establish a regular spray program. The fungicide has to be on the plant continuously to keep the fungus spores from multiplying. So if the directions recommend spraying weekly, spray weekly. If you don't like spraying, there are several fungicides that need to be applied only once a month.

If you'd like to know more about growing roses, call, write or e-mail Primary Products (for Serious Gardeners) for a copy of their free color catalog. The catalog offers a variety of rose care products including fertilizers, spray materials, soil conditioners, tools and lots of information about growing great roses.

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