Plants, including huge trees and small bushes alike, can be disciplined to flower when we want the flowers, subject to the environmental conditions and our needs. In Jasmines, citrus fruits and Guava, it is known as the ‘Bahar’ treatment for flower induction. It is used commercially to get a good crop of guavas in winter and of lemons in summer when they fetch the maximum price because of high demand. Roses are normally pruned to get peak flowering for Republic Day on January 26 in India and for Valentine’s Day on February 14 worldwide. The treatment can also be adapted to get rose flowering during the non-monsoon period, provided one has about two months’ at hand. Dusshera or Vijayadashami is on October 12, 2016, and so we have just enough time to prune roses for peak flowering then.
Pruning is a practice by which dead and dying branches are removed along with succulent ‘water sprouts’ and any shoots that may emerge from the wild rootstock on which the rose has been budded. Healthy branches of the rose are also pruned above an outward facing leaf to encourage growth outwards from the centre. All shoots growing towards the center are cut off to have an ‘open heart’ in which sunlight can flow and promote flowering. All the cut ends are treated with any free copper compound like the Bordeaux mixture or Copper Oxy Chloride available with trade names like Bordo, Blitox, Fytolan, Blue Copper, etc, to prevent die-back disease. Slurry of the powder has to be made and applied with a brush or even a soft bristled tooth brush.
Remove the weeds growing at the base of the plant and apply some manure. A handful of compost and a teaspoonful of muriate of potash at the base of each rose bush is enough. Freshly made cow dung ‘tea’, made by stirring equal quantities of fresh cow dung and water and taking only the liquid after allowing the solids to settle down, is very good for the rose plant. Apply once a fortnight, where possible. Those who do not have access to fresh cow dung, can use two tablespoons full (30 ml) of Panchagavya or even EM-2 (Effective Micro-organisms, Extended Solution) to encourage plant growth. Flower buds will appear on the new reddish shoots within a month and the flowers will begin to bloom in 45 to 50 days. Prune again in the first week of November for flowers at Christmas or immediately after Children’s Day for flowers at New Year. One can enjoy the beauty of flowers that can be shown off to friends and visitors.
Roses for Dusshera