Virgo

A fragile delight ‘Virgo’ is one of the best-loved white Hybrid Tea roses. It has double, slightly scented blooms on long stems. It is a favourite with greenhouse growers and flower arrangers, andean also be grown in patio tubs.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March-April:

Prune, and begin regular spraying against pests and diseases. Feed with rose fertilizer around the base of each plant. Apply a mulch (ground covering) of well-rotted compost to sandy or chalky soils to help conserve moisture.

SUMMER

May-August:

Deadhead (remove dead flower-heads) regularly, cutting back to the first bud just above a full leaf. Water free-draining soils in dry spells. July: Give second application of rose fertilizer.

AUTUMN

September:

Plan new plantings and prepare planting sites. October: Set out new plants.

WINTER

November-February:

Carry on planting unless soil is waterlogged or frozen. Tidy up established rose-beds. Remove and destroy fallen leaves and other debris that can harbour disease. Dig in old mulch applied in spring.

GROWING IN PATIO POTS

Grow ‘Virgo’ in a tub no less than 45cm deep. Cover drainage holes with 2.5cm of coarse gravel or crocks and stand the tub on bricks or blocks so it is clear of the ground. Fill with soil to about 5cm below the top of the tub.

Plant as you would in the garden, keeping the union 2.5cm below the soil surface. Put in an open, sunny spot and water to keep the roots moist. Feed once when the first new growth appears and again in midsummer, sprinkling the fertilizer on to moist soil and raking it in lightly.

The popularity of this bush Hybrid Tea has not been diminished by more robust, recent rivals, which cannot rival its graceful, pure white flowers and buds.

Careful planting and nurturing reap particular benefits with this fragile rose. Whether you buy a bare-root or container-grown ‘Virgo’ rose, autumn planting is best. It gives time for the plant to settle in and make new roots before starting into growth the following spring.

If you are planting ‘Virgo’ in a flower border, make sure that it will not be crowded by neighbouring plants and that air can circulate freely. This should help to keep the fungal disease mildew at bay.

Planting and care

Make a planting hole at least 45-60cm wide and deep enough so that the union between stock and bud is at least 2.5cm below the soil surface.

Break up the bottom of the planting hole and stir in some manure. Mix a handful of bone meal into the soil removed from the hole.

Cut back any long or damaged roots. Fan out the roots in the bottom of the hole, sprinkling soil around them to hold the plant in position while you backfill the planting hole.

When the hole is two thirds filled, gently shake the plant up and down to work soil around the roots.

Finish filling the hole and carefully tread around the plant to firm the soil.

Top-dress with a mulch (ground covering) of well-rotted manure.

Like all Hybrid Teas, ‘Virgo’ has a wonderfully long flowering period, from early summer to late autumn. Keep deadheading (removing dead flower-heads) to encourage new flowering stems to grow.

PRUNING,

Careful pruning in mid-March, in warm regions and in early,

April in colder areas helps to, maintain a healthy plant. Use, sharp secateurs and cut just, above an outward-facing bud slanting down and away from, the bud. Remove all dead and dis- eased stems, cutting back to healthy wood. Prune all thin, weak stems, cutting back to stronger-growing branches.

Cut out all stems growing in towards the centre of the bush and any crossing branches. Aim to create an open-centred framework of sturdy stems. ‘Virgo’ can be prone to mildew, so it benefits from hard pruning. After pruning to shape the plant, cut back all the main stems to 10-15cm from the ground

Virgo

SITUATION

Plant in a sunny bed or border where the air circulates freely. Do not plant in old rose-beds where the soil may be ‘rose sick’. Always select a new site. Grows well in pots or in the greenhouse.

SOIL

Thrives in good, medium-textured soil that is slightly acid. Deeply dig clay soils and add well-rotted manure or compost. This also improves moisture retention.

CARE

Deadhead (remove dead flower-heads) regularly during the flowering season, cutting back to an outward-facing bud. Prune in spring. Protect from mildew.

The petals of all Hybrid Tea roses form a definite central :one, and the petal edges roll and curl back on themselves.

PLANT HEALTH

Mildew appears as a powdery covering on the tips of new growth. It is most likely to attack ‘Virgo’ if plants are overcrowded or positioned where air movement is restricted, for instance, near walls. Drought conditions also encourage mildew, so be sure to keep this rose well watered. Spraying with a rose fungicide as soon as new growth appears can help to prevent severe mildew attacks. Spray at the first sign of aphids.

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