“Roses are tough customers,” Gerischer said. “The one thing that’s hard to get across to people is that they think they need a lot and really don’t. I have (some) rose bushes that get almost no care whatsoever.”
He also grows everything in his garden organically and said doing so is easier than it may seem. His roses actually don’t encounter much disease by being grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Gersicher pointed out that switching from non-organic to organic gardening practices may initially yield disappointing results.
“You’re going to want to pull (your roses) all out. You’re going to figure that you’re doomed to have just awful roses. But at the end of the process, it actually becomes a lot easier,” he said.
The best time to prune roses is between Jan. 15 to Feb. 15, and those in attendance were able to practice pruning roses on a small patch across Chaparral Hall after the workshop lecture.
Outdoors, participants applied techniques Gerischer covered during the lecture, such as making cuts on rose canes anywhere from half to one inch above and on the backside of the bud eye. He recommended using Felco brand pruning shears for gardening, as he has had the same blades on his pruner since 1996.
The objective in cutting is to achieve an outward facing cane, so the angle should be made away from the bud eye.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing when I prune, so this has helped. I’ve learned a lot of things though that I know what my mistakes were,” said Janine Stanley, a member of CSUN’s Friends of the Garden, an organization under the botanic garden.
Stripping off excess leaves off roses was also highlighted, because Gerischer said problems with these plants in California are due to foliage. He also said he strips off leaves before he prunes. This was another process participants were able to practice.
The hands-on portion was the highlight of the workshop for many who learned about rose pruning on Saturday.
“I’m a new gardener and it’s going to be helping me in taking care of my roses and yard,” said Maureen Fitzgerald, one of the attendees.
While the workshop was held primarily because it is the appropriate time of the year to maintain roses, Gerischer cited a decrease in the options consumers have for buying these flowers.
The next workshop in the series will cover how to grow tomatoes and will be held in March.