Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Operation Recovery - Hybrid Rose

by Richard Chew

I started with this Hybrid Rose for some time. If my memory served me right, it has been in my garden for 2 years.

The picture on the left was taken in end October. The photo on the right was taken in August (2 months earlier). The flower petals were getting lesser.

This photo was taken back in March (7 months earlier since Oct picture). The flower development was quite complete and full at that time.

For the past couple of months, I had countless problems with it. The stem didn't look good. The leaves defoliate shortly after flowering. And scales started appearing at the main stems.

Initially I suspected that it didn't have sufficient sun light but already discounted that possibility after running some checks and research on photosynthesis and plant respiration.

I also ensured that it had the right carbon and nitrogen ratio when I fertilized the soil. The rose responded to my change in fertilizing, but the results wasn't favourable, as you can see the photos taken above. I eliminated the c:n ratio that was the caused to this problem.

I can't say there was anything wrong with the soil, as there were lots of worms residing in the soil. This is clear sign that indeed there are lots of life in the soil. I reasoned if the soil is not healthy, my rose would have died by now.

But it still stood alive, though it was at a very sorry state. Something was missing.

I tried pruning off unhealthy stems. As there weren't many healthy stems left, I dared not prune too aggresively. I knew at this current deteriorating state, it has too little energy remained to push out healthy buds and leaves, therefore I did not prune too deep (I pruned further away from the main stem).

Unfortunately the plant remained at slow and weak growth for subsequent weeks. I kind of gave up and tranfered this Hybrid rose to a smaller pot, perhaps I didn't cultivate this rose well enough therefore it is now beyond return. I might as well give more attention to my other healthier rose. It was a demotion for my Hybrid rose.

At that time of transplanting, I was doing some reading on soil micro-organism. I've learned that the nitrogen fertilizer in different forms affects the soil microbes differently. I was astounded with the impact that we do to the millions of soil microbes in the soil through the way we fertilize it. A good healthy soil require a balance population of varying soil microbes to enable to fight off diseases and to feed sufficient nutrients to the plant roots.

To cut the long story short, I learned that my rose which has grown for over 2 years (to a medium size shrub), thrives on fungal dominated soil. No wonder the fertilizing didn't work as the method used favoured bacteria dominated soil. It worked well in the beginning as young roses require bacteria dominated soil, however as it grows larger its needs changes and thrive better on fungal dominated soil.

Immediately I altered the soil and changed my method of fertilizing. The result after 2 weeks was astounding. Not only the leaves were developing well on existing buds, there were new buds emerging from stronger stems. This is excellent sign of recovery. For the past couple of months, there were never any new shoots coming from the main stem. This time, just a little change made such a dramatic impact.

I will explain on the fertilizing part in my next feeding the soil series postings. At this moment, I wish to show you some of the pictures taken recently.

Remarkably a shoot emerged from a bigger stem.

Another one coming from the main stem (Shoot no 2).

I noticed a eye bud appearing at the main stem. Usually after a while it would die back (blackened). However I am hoping this time it will develop successfully.

I didn't realise the kind of impact we can do to the soil microbes. If we team with them well, they will work towards your goal and get to do their job excellently well.

Well lets not get to carried away. I think it is too early to conclude my discovery, however this is a good sign and indication that I am heading to the right direction. Hopefully my friendly soil microbes will help me restore my Hybrid and make it a more bushier rose.

I will post the latest development in 2 weeks time.

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