The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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Advent Services - 7 PM Central Time in December.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Getting the Most from Knock Out Roses.
Final List for Our Favorite Doctor

Magenta Double Knock Out Roses
are ideal for color and make fairly good cut roses.


Dear Dr. B.
I am happy to give you a short list and a second, detailed list about growing better Knock Out roses, based on God’s Creation being well designed and managed. Knock Outs were developed to be disease free;  they are also very productive and easy to grow.



Summary: Roses need –
Organic mulch. I use a layer of newspapers or cardboard, with a thick layer of shredded Cyprus on top of the bottom layer. This enriches the soil, protects against wind erosion, holds in water, and reduces weed growth. Do not use plastic or landscaper’s cloth beneath the mulch. Newspapers and cardboard really help in slowing down weeds, but when it rains 7 inches, weeds will find a way through.

Red wiggler earthworms. I buy mine from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm - http://unclejimswormfarm.com. They are often available from local suppliers as red wigglers, compost worms, etc. Earthworms tunnel the soil, fertilize the soil, sweeten the soil with calcium, and transport bacteria. Simply drop earthworms on top of the area in the sunlight. They will dig down and do their work.

Pruning. Knock Outs grow fast so they need plenty of pruning. All spent and fading blooms should be cut off. There is no magical place to cut. Use the surgeon’s motto – “When it doubt, cut it out.” Pruning spurs growth above ground and below. Knock Outs can be cut back 50% and will regain their size with beautiful blooms in short order.

Watering. If the wood mulch is damp, the roses have enough water. Long, slow soaking is good, but I have no qualms about hosing down the bushes. They like a shower. If petals start falling down, more pruning needs to be done.

The tiny Ichneumon wasp lays eggs that kill pests when they hatch.


Beneficial insects. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and oils all slaughter the beneficial insects and spiders, so do not use them. Flower flies (hover flies), Ichneumon wasps, and many other creatures feed on pests, so killing the pests will kill the beneficial creatures and their food supply. The pests come back but not in great numbers - if the beneficials are allowed to control them.

Fungal swapping. The key to rose nutrition is the interface at the root level between the plant’s roothairs swapping carbon for its needs from fungus. We now know that fungus will reach out across the soil to get moisture, nitrogen compounds, and various minerals needed by rose while asking for the carbon it needs to grow. That means mulching, earthworming, and avoiding all toxins will allow the roses to develop as God intended. The big rose gardens and Queen Elizabeth follow this NO TOXINS regimen – and that includes avoiding non-toxic oil, which suffocates all life, poison or not.

White Knock Out roses were aphid magnets
but soon bloomed without much damage at all,
thanks to beneficial insects.

Problems Addressed
Leaves eaten or blooms and buds ruined.
When the leaves were eaten by some bug, you sprayed oil and that stopped it. You also killed all the spiders and bugs that were doing God’s work. I had aphid destruction, on my favorite white John Paul roses, the white Knock Outs, and the Peace roses. I left them alone, cutting off the afflicted roses. In the next round of blooming, there was far less damage, then almost no damage. Now the most afflicted John Paul roses are the most productive, almost always undamaged, and spectacular in bloom. SOLUTION – Let the beneficial bugs do the work. Often my best roses have a tight spider web at the bottom of the stem. Or a tiny spider will let down from the bloom.

Bend close to the roses on a calm day and the beneficial insects will be seen flitting around.

Pink Knock Out Rose
Beat Down by Heavy Rains
When it rained 7 or more inches, all the roses were beaten down, mine, yours, and ones in Michigan too. Roses are easily softened by a lot of rain. The blooms are heavy with water and the stems are water-logged. SOLUTION – when the roses are a little drier, cut the Knock Outs back by 50%. They will grow back quickly. The red-green growth is very impressive, and the high nitrogen content of the rain will fuel growth in the plant and in the soil microbes that feed the roses.

Sad Looking Knock Outs
Late in the season people are tempted to let the bushes go. They end up with large displays of fading blooms, truly pathetic. I saw one KO with a weed growing out from within, higher than the bush.

I chop down the bushes by 50%, at the start of the season, after each big bloom cycle, and whenever I have bushes full of fading blooms. Our landscaper friend told me to do that when they were 6 feet tall. “I already did that.” He said, “You did and they are that tall already?” Yes, and they bloom like crazy that way.

The strength of the KO is the fast growth in good soil. That means more rapid blooming, unlike the regal hybrid teas, which bloom slowly and hold their flowers in perfection longer. More pruning is the answer KOs, combined with enough water or rain.

The Best Water

Rain is the best water for roses, so I store mine as run-off from the roof in back. I bought two huge Rubber Maid garbage cans for that. I dump water every so often to avoid mosquito population explosions.

Second best during a dry season is aged water. My mother used this long ago and was envied by all her colleagues. Fill the barrels with tap water and let them aerate for two days. The chlorine, which inhibits plant growth, will evaporate out.

Cultivate a Yard for Beneficial Creatures
We can do many things to attract beneficial creatures to the yard, to aid to keeping pests under control. That will give us more butterflies, birds, and hummingbirds.

Toads want flat pans with water for hydration. They eat thousands of pests each summer. I put flat clay pans under my soaker hoses. They also like logs resting on the soil.

Logs and sticks on the ground will harbor all kinds of beneficial creatures. So will piles of leave left along and a wild area where many beneficials can overwinter and breed – rove beetles, spiders without webs, praying mantids, etc.

I use a kiddie pool for a large bird bath. I cut down the sides to let birds hop in and out. They do not want much depth, and adding stones will only mean something else to clean. The sound of moving water is even better.

Some Beneficial Insect Plants
  1. Coreopsis (tick seed).
  2. Shasty daisies.
  3. Sunflowers.
  4. Bee balm.
  5. Trumpet Vine.
  6. Honeysuckle Vine.
  7. Buckwheat (for the wild area).
  8. Butterfly Bush.
  9. Chaste Tree.