Choosing Your Maintenance Plan

As you plan your adventure with roses, you must consider maintenance.  The big question is whether to use insecticides and fungicides to control pests.  This blog will address our decision to go chemical free. 


Our Pollinators are in Decline!

Did you know that one out of every three bites of food you eat exists because of the efforts of pollinators: bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and birds.   Many pollinator populations are in decline due to loss of feeding & nesting habitats, pollution, misuse of chemicals, disease and change in climate.

A must read from our National Park Service.

Life depends on pollinators


My Maintenance Journey

My step Dad,  David Alther & my Mom, May,  served Methodist churches in Kentucky. Everywhere they lived Dad planted red roses.  Nope,  don’t know the name or whether they were teas or shrubs…just red.  When they retired they moved to Oklahoma and I helped Dad plant roses.  Red of course for Dad, fragrant roses for Mom as she was blind by then.  The roses always made her smile.  I am a Kentucky girl.  The weather there is kinder, the soil tends to be rich & the bluegrass stays where its growing, not incredibly invasive like Bermuda. Gardening was easy.  Using this approach here in Oklahoma, I dug a hole, planted the rose and watered it.  Zero maintenance.  Not so successful!

My Insecticide Years

Eventually I began a schedule of fertilizing and spraying with insecticides and fungicide every 3 weeks.  Who knew…regular maintenance makes a big difference.  My garden grew to 20 healthy, disease free roses.  New problem?  There was always a chemical to fight it.  Never once did I consider the pollinators.

Monarchs…Changing Times

Monarchs have long held a special place in my heart.   2019, I wrote a Keep Oklahoma Beautiful grant for a Pollinator/Monarch garden in Central Park.  The research was life changing.  With the help of Marcie Hawkins (Oks for Monarchs) I learned about the major decline in pollinators.  The Monarch is close to becoming endangered!  We got the grant! Look on our homepage for more information.  May 2020, I planted my own Pollinator/Monarch garden meaning of course, the end to insecticides and fungicides.  The Monarchs brought me such joy and inspiration during the long Covid months. Pic of first Monarch we released.

My Monarch Milkweed.                                 First Caterpillar                                 Emerging Monarchs

New Chemical Free Maintenance

What you’ll find on this blog is my progress on this journey.   My garden is a collection of hybrid teas, floribunda and shrub. I still choose roses for fragrance, remembering my Mom.  I’ll be buying some new hardy, disease resistant roses.  We’ll see how these different types of roses respond to this new maintenance plan.

My First Step:  Companion Plants

Last year I added companion plants like moonbeam coreopsis (shown above) and cone flowers which amazingly kept the aphids off my roses.   

Today I ordered yellow yarrow, lavender and red salvia from  Their annual plant sale is now till March 31. Great prices, pick up in April, and your purchase supports an amazing organization. I’ll  scatter these plants throughout my garden as they also deter rose pests.  Pics of each:  Red Salvia, Yellow Yarrow, Lavender and Mastergardener Plant Sale


Soil Sampling

The best thing you can give your roses is heathy soil.  Knowing the correct composition of your soil gives you information about what additives you might need.  The OSU Extension Office, has a soil sampling program.  See attached info.  I dropped off 3 samples yesterday.  It takes about 2 weeks.  Hoping to report the results in the next blog.  When you drop yours off be sure to say “Hi” to Kitty.  She’s a fellow Kentucky girl!

Join Me on this Journey

I do hope you’ll join me on this journey to protect our pollinators while growing beautiful roses.

Please be in touch.  Email your thoughts and links to any articles that inspire you

Here are some websites I found very helpful.  Growing Roses without Chemicals  3 Organic Aphid Control Methods Testing    7 Tips for Growing Roses Organically to Create a Sustainable Eco System.


Submitted by Beverly Forester.  For the record, I am not a horticulturalist, master gardener or rosarian, but I have many friends who are, friends who give me great advice.  I am quite passionate about roses, pollinators and monarchs.  I love research and experimenting. So ready to start this new adventure!