Tees-Side Rose Society


Improve your chances of winning

Bloom Protection


For exhibition Large Flowered (Hybrid Tea) roses to be presented in a near-flawless, fresh condition, they generally require protection from rain or strong sunshine. Rain marks the petals of most roses, and can cause the petals to stick together and rot. Shade is needed as strong sunshine can bleach out the colours of many varieties, although some, like Silver Jubilee, are almost immune from weather damage and bleaching.


Protectors should be placed in position over opening blooms, just when the buds show colour and the sepals begin to part. Keep a wary eye on the weather forecast, and cut blooms early to avoid any bad weather which may be predicted for the day before a show. If the weather is wet during the week before a show, all but Large Flowered varieties may be cut two to three days before a show. Shake the rain from the heads and stand the stems in water indoors, where many varieties will continue to open.


Nearly all rose exhibiting in the Britain is conducted under Royal National Rose Society rules which for amateur exhibitors require that bushes must have been owned and grown solely by the exhibitor for three months prior to a show. The roses must have been grown in the open, and only individual bloom protectors may be used. Any form of blanket protection is outlawed. However, all shows do not use RNRS rules and you should enquire for any additional or alternative regulations.


Commercial covers were produced until recently and there are still thousands being used. If you get a chance to obtain them from retiring exhibitors, take it.


Home-made Covers


Exhibitors make their own bloom covers because of the high cost (or unavailability) commercial products. Conical covers can be made easily with materials which are generally available. You will need strong galvanised or plastic-covered wire to secure the cone to the supporting stake or cane. Plastic-covered wire is preferable, as this will remain unaffected by the weather. Most hardware stores and garden centres can supply suitable coils of wire.


The covers can be made from a variety of materials such as thick cartridge paper or plastic sheeting. The latter can be from empty fertiliser bags, or bought from agricultural merchants, garden centres or specialist sheet-plastic suppliers. Cartridge paper should be painted with a waterproof paint before assembly.


You will also need rolls of 25mm wide PVC adhesive tape or masking tape, a small stapling machine, a medium-sized pair of pliers and stout canes or stakes 12-l6mm thick and 1.2-1.5m long.


Mark out circles 50cm in diameter on the material chosen for the cone manufacture. Cut them out, then into semi-circles. Form semi-circles of material into a cone by drawing both ends together, allowing a 10-l2mm overlap. Fasten two staples through the overlap to hold the cone together. Cover the entire length of the joint (on the inside) with a single piece of adhesive tape.


Cut a 1.lm length of wire from the coil. Then, using pliers, form a 19-20cm diameter circle in the centre of the wire, with two wire 'tails' each  25-28cm long. Place the wire circle over the outside of the cone and allow it to slide down until it will rest unsupported, with the wire tails on the cone joint. Mark the position where the wire tails touch the joint, remove the wire and make a 6mm diameter hole at this point. Push the two wire tails through the hole from the inside until the wire ring rests firmly against the inside of the cone. Use four or five strips of adhesive tape, each about 10cm long, to secure the ring to the inside of the cone.


Next, at a position 5cm from the cone, bend the twin wire tails vertically downward, then back upon themselves. Finally, bind this wire 'handle' to the top of a cane or stake. Although this procedure sounds fairly complex, with a little practice you will be able to produce these very serviceable covers fairly quickly.


Using Covers


Once placed over a bud, the cover's height should be adjusted so that the opening bud cannot be damaged if the stem is blown about in a wind, though make sure the cover still gives protection.

When commercial covers are used, altering the height is extremely easy. Less sophisticated, home-made covers are adjusted simply by pulling the cane slightly out of the bed until the protector is in the required position. As blooms open, the covers may require further adjustment.

When the cover has been correctly positioned, there is a further safety precaution to be taken. Twist one end of some thin plastic-covered wire securely around the cane and fasten the other end, gently but securely around the stem of the bloom, about 20-25cm below the base of the bloom. Such precautions should eliminate bloom damage in all but the most severe winds. Should a bloom develop a split or snub-nosed centre (see page 7), remove the cover and use it elsewhere, as these blooms will be useless for show purposes.


If a bloom is large and apparently suitable for specimen classes, you can tie the centre to help hold its shape. Run two turns of thick, soft wool around the centre cone of petals and then tie it loosely with a double twist, locating twists away from the petal edges to avoid cutting them.



Plastic Bags as Protectors


During recent years some exhibitors have experimented with small 200 x 250mm plastic bags as bloom protectors and many have found these useful, but only for certain varieties. Only the very light opaque and flimsy bags should be used, as heavier bags tend to bend the bloom necks and also rub and bruise the petals. Bags provide a much cheaper protection than covers; they save time, and (when sealed) they create a damp, warm, local environment in which blooms tend to develop more quickly than they would under covers.


However, bags also have their disadvantages, the chief one being that the damp internal atmosphere can cause petal rot or loss of colour in some varieties. Another major disadvantage is that you cannot observe the development of the bloom. Bearing these advantages and disadvantages in mind many exhibitors have reached the following conclusions.


Bags produce excellent results with some varieties when used from the bud to three-quarters developed bloom. Large petalled  varieties, such as Admiral Rodney are suited to bags. Some varieties seem totally unsuitable for bag covering. These are usually the varieties with only small numbers of large petals, such as Embassy.


Many slow-opening varieties which have many petals can be covered for about seven days in a bag and then finished under covers. This method produces the best results with varieties such as Red Devil. If the weather is damp and foggy, blooms may rot even under covers. In such conditions bags provide a means of producing some good blooms when other means would fail. Bags can be useful when blooms are opening too slowly.



Using Plastic Bags


Make sure that the neck of the opening bud has stiffened before it is bagged. Gather the open end of the bag together and inflate it by blowing into the gathered opening. Slip the bag over the bud and secure it at the gather, about 4Omm below the base of the bud, using a paper/wire tie.

Buds take from nine to fourteen days to develop from just showing colour to three-quarters developed. A wise exhibitor should check the development by opening the bag occasionally. When a bag is opened you will see that a considerable amount of moisture has been retained, so turn the bag inside out before replacing it.


Whichever form of protection you choose, make sure that the greatest possible number of blooms are protected before a show. In our changeable climate, there is no doubt that covering blooms greatly enhances the chances of winning.