What do you do when a selection of knockout roses dries out in the garden center over the weekend and need to be revived? This happened last year, and I managed to restore them to look better than they were before, in only two weeks. Here is how I restored the knockout roses.
Either the roses had been allowed to dry out, the overhead sprinkler system did not sufficiently water them, or the heat scorched them. Long story short, the majority of their leaves had dried up and turned brown overnight, turning the rose aisle of the garden center into a disaster.
The first step was to pull the roses into the plant hospital and make sure that they were watered. Many of the knockout roses in the two gallon pots had only two thirds of the pot with soil. Some roses were malnourished from being kept in the small pot for so long. Almost all of them had dead wood from the previous season, from spent flowers, and from the wilting. There were weeds in many of the pots.
Next it was time to remove all the dead material. All spent flower buds and dead wood from previous years were removed, along with any leaves that had no life in them. Some bushes were pretty much bare while others had managed to keep some of their foliage. It is never advised to remove the foliage from a plant, but if the foliage has died, it is already as good as removed.
I then made a potting mix using equal parts of the topsoil from the screened topsoil pile and the peat based grower’s mix potting soil we used for the annuals. Each rose was transplanted into a three-gallon pot and given time-release fertilizer, then set in rows in the back in full sun and allowed to recover. A liquid feed was given to them weekly to boost their recovery, as they were drawing on their stored nutrients to bounce back from the shock.
After two weeks had passed, the roses had put out new leaves and were initiating new growth, looking better than they had been before the incident. Rather than assuming that it was a disaster, I saw it as an opportunity to successfully salvage and renew the roses.