Controlling Caterpillars & Transplanting A Container Rose

Question:

I had a horrendous caterpillar problem last year. Can I use a systemic insecticide to control bugs much as I do with Aphids?

Answer:

  • Systemic insecticides will not control chewing insects like caterpillars, worms, or beetles.
  • Systemic does an excellent job with Aphids, Mites as well as other sucking insects. These insects feed on the plant juices and also ingest the insecticide, which then controls the population.
    • With chewing insects, these chemicals do not affect the caterpillars. You first need to be diligent in watching the host plants for the first sign of the problem.
  • The caterpillar and/or worm season begins just after Memorial Day and extends into the early fall. Petunias, Geraniums, Flowering Tobacco, and Tomatoes are the primary host plants for summer worms. In addition, there can be several batches of the same problem during the season, so the host plants need to be checked weekly. I wouldn’t spray until I see the problem.
    • You could just pick them off the plants and dispose of them if you choose to. Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis, is an organic solution that gives the caterpillars or worms a fatal case of stomach flu; however, it doesn’t work immediately, so you have to be patient.
    • Spinosad is another organic solution that will kill the caterpillars on contact and provide some residual control. Captain Jack Dead Bug Brew by Bonide is one of several products. Both of these solutions are widely available. So in summary, be diligent, monitor your plants, and react when necessary.

Question:

We have several roses that have been planted in tubs that are falling apart. They are not doing well. Is it okay to repot them now or should we wait for a better time? 

Answer:

  • Roses in containers can be transplanted just about any time of the year. However, I’d avoid transplanting when the temperatures are above ninety.
  • I’d remove the existing roses from the old containers and then slice through the root ball in five or six locations to break the circular pattern of the roots. Next, you should trim off two to three inches of the matted roots at the bottom.
  • The root ball is placed in the new container filled with potting soil or a rose planting mix. The top of the root ball should be within an inch and a half of the brim of the container.
  • Here are the keys to growing beautiful roses in containers. Roses like lots of water, so when the temperatures are over 85 degrees, water them daily.
    • Also, remove the saucers under the containers as you want the water to flow freely out the bottom.
    • Roses are heavy feeders so fertilize them monthly with Dr. Earth Rose Food or use the time-release fertilizer called Osmocote. Osmocote releases a little bit of nutrients with every watering and is reapplied every four months.
  •  With very little effort, you can turn these ugly ducklings into beautiful swans. It’s the gardening version of an extreme makeover a reality show