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By jlew1977, Jan 5 2016 02:15PM

Article by contributing editor Jonathan Leger

The first thing to learn about rose plant diseases is that the faster they get diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be. In order to keep your roses blooming and healthy for many years in the future, it is worth it to take the time to learn about the signs, symptoms and diseases of these plants and of course, how to treat them.

Black Fungus - There are a few different names for this disease. Sometimes it is called black spot, leaf blotch, or sooty mold. It first appears on the top of the surface of the leaves and it is fairly easy to identify because of the black splotches that it causes.

As the disease progresses, the spots will get larger. You will begin to see a yellow halo around the outside of the dark spots, too. In time, the entire leaf will turn yellow and drop off of the plant. In time, it can weaken, defoliate and eventually kill a rose bush.

Sadly, this disease is a global problem. Even after the plant has been treated, the impacted leaves won't lose their spots, but new foliage should grow in green and healthy once again.

To treat this disease, you should keep the area below your roses clean by removing any foliage or debris that has fallen. Be sure to mulch often. You can apply an organic fungicide such as sulfer on a weekly basis.

Powdery mildew - Some gardeners abbreviate the name to PM. This is another very widespread and serious rose plant disease. Like black spot, it is also caused by a fungus. In the case of powdery mildew, the first symptom is a white and powdery substance on both the top and bottom of the plant's leaves.

If this fungus is not treated, the bush will never do well and the leaves will become wrinkled. Eventually, the impacted leaves will die and drop off of the plant. Even after treatment, the affected leaves will not improve, however, the new leaves should grow in with a healthy appearance.

To treat powdery mildew, use one teaspoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of cooking oil into a spray bottle with one quart of water. Sulfur dusts will help to control this disease as well.

Downy mildew - This is one of the fastest and most destructive of all of the fungal diseases that roses are prone to. It first shows up on stems, blooms and petals. It looks dark purple, red-purple or brown.

This disease can kill a rose bush rather quickly if it isn't treated soon enough. In addition, more than one treatment might be needed to get control back. With downy mildew, the faster you can act, the better chance you have to save your rosebush.

Rose canker - This disease is sometimes called cankers. It starts out as a black, gray or brown patch on the stem of the bush. In some cases, it might be caused by severe cold or some other kind of damage that the bush has suffered.

One thing to be very careful of is that this disease can spread from one plant to another if tools aren't cleaned properly after they are used to prune a diseased bush. Gardeners suggest using a disinfectant wipe or having a bucket of water and bleach to use as a rinse. Let the tools dry before using them on another bush.

To treat canker disease, clean the area around and under the plant raked up and clean. Be sure to get rid of any infected parts of the plant right away. You should not prune or fertilize this plant until you have established control once again because the new growth will be susceptible to this disease. A copper-based fungicide will help to treat this disease.

Rust - As the name suggests, this disease actually looks like little spots of rust on the bottoms of leaves. As time passes, the rust will move to the tops of the leaves. This is another rose fungus.

To treat rose rust, be sure that you dispose of the infected leaves and spray regularly with a copper sulfate fungicide. Maintaining good airflow around the rose bush can prevent this disease.

Mosaic virus - This is not a fungal disease. It is a virus. Affected plants will not flower or produce healthy leaves. The leaves may become wrinkled or curled and could contain yellow spots or stripes. The only way to know for sure is to get the plant tested.

Once a plant is infected, there really is no cure for this disease. The best cure is prevention. You will need to discard the plant to keep the virus from spreading.

Some gardeners purchase rose plants that are considered disease resistant. These plants have been bred to be hardier. However, that does not mean that they are immune to all diseases. Any successful rose plant gardener will always keep an eye on these lovely plants to make sure they remain healthy.

Jonathan Leger is a member of the Garden Writer's Association and a gardening enthusiast. He runs a site dedicated to the history, education and care of Knockout roses. Visit his website here.

By jlew1977, Jul 5 2015 02:53PM

The June 23rd Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin (CFGW) membership meeting was held at Roorbach Flowers in Manitowoc, Wisconsin with 18 CFGW members and Roorbach employees in attendance. CFGW vice president Chris Williams moderated the meeting and first asked about Roorbach Flowers. Claire Olson, co-owner with Jim Olson, said Roorbach Flowers has been in business 65 years but built a new office, store and greenhouses in 1999. They are a retail flower shop selling cut flowers and potted plants, green plants, bedding plants in the spring as well as gift items. They also have a greenhouse range in the country.

Spring sales results was the primary question discussed at this membership meeting. Those attending had a free and open conversation about the spring season sales, what sold and how each business advertised.

Attendees were first asked about sales trends for the spring sales season. Although comments ranged from great to only OK, most of the attendees said business was up from last year. A wholesale grower attending said April sales were “Gang busters” but dropped off that high in May although he thought he was still ahead for the whole season. Several commented about May having one weekend with two good sales days. Otherwise one day was warm the other was cold or one was dry and sunny the other was rainy and cloudy, conditions not conducive to great selling season. Claire said Manitowoc had a frost in early June, also not conducive to good sales. A Milwaukee area grower said his sales were up substantially from 2014. Claire also said their spring 2015 sales were about week behind last years.

The conversation then turned to what sold well and what did not and the responses were varied. The consensus of the attendees was that Ivy Geranium baskets are not selling well but the new interspecies crosses, such as Calliope were still selling. Chris Williams said he did not think they would grow any Ivy Geranium baskets for 2016 but the Calliope series sold quite well. Calliope Crimson Flame was a hit at least one greenhouse. Also, Zonal Geranium sales were a bit soft with a number of growers still having more plants remaining than they would like.

Attendees were asked what plants sold out first. The responses were Sanvitallia, Easy Wave Red Velour, Salvia Glitz, Supercal Petunias, Sunpatiens, lime colored sweet potato vines, Euphorbia, MiniSupertunias, a Double Purple Petunia from Selecta, salmon flowered Petunias and other plants with orange and salmon flowers. What did not sell well were New Guinea Impatiens, and New Guinea Impatiens baskets, Bacopa, black leaf sweet potato vines, Supertunia Black Cherry, and plants grown in terra cotta pots (black pots seemed to be preferred).

To attract customers, no one was using newspapers but radio ads seemed towork well as well as advertising on a website, Facebook and emails to customers. A Milwaukee area grower said that growing a “decent plant and selling at a decent price” brings in customers by word of mouth. Chris Williams said they upgraded their sign adding a color video screen which he said helped bring in more customers. Another grower advertised in the Wisconsin Gardener Magazine as well as Northwest Quarterly with good results. Several offered classes during the late winter and spring with good results.

The topic of return policies was also discussed. One garden center said they replace plants brought in that have been poorly treated by a customer. They use it as an educational tool. It produces good will. many others said they do not accept returns.

For those of you who were unable or decided to not attend this meeting, be sure to make a point to check this round-table discussion out next season. Although there were many varied opinions on the many topics discussed, everyone who did attend was in full agreement that this annual meeting is one of the, if not THE most informative and important meeting of the year.

By jlew1977, Jul 5 2015 02:37PM

Gail Edwin Beck was born on July 25, 1923 in Dunn County, Wisconsin to his parents Carl E. and Alta Genevieve (Harshman) Beck. He passed away on May 12, 2015 in Fort Myers, Florida.

Gail grew up on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin and his education derived from a one room school house until the 9th grade. After graduating from high school he volunteered with the US Army and served proudly during WWII. During that time he became wounded and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. Following WWII he attended Michigan State and obtained his undergraduate and master degrees in horticulture. He was then hired by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to build their floriculture program where he simultaneously obtained his Ph.D. in Floriculture. Gail spent 36 years as a university professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1985 Gail retired and with his wife Lois moved to Fort Myers, FL and have enjoyed many years with the Shell Point Retirement Community. Gail was committed to volunteering many hours of his leadership to the 1st Church of the Nazarene in Madison and Fort Myers. He was a devout servant of the Lord and remained always faithful throughout his life. Gail's passions in life were his faith, family and especially his grandchildren.

For those who do not know Dr. Beck, he was a key member of the University of Wisconsin’s Floriculture program and taught many greenhouse growers over his 36 years teaching in Madison. In my early years working for the Fred C. Gloeckner Company in Wisconsin he was a valuable resource and always ready to answer my questions. Dr. Beck was a “Class Act.”

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