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Posts Tagged ‘roses’

 April is such a thorny month.  Just as we’re getting through our taxes it’s time to prune the roses.  Between the two, I’ll take the rose; if something’s going to stick it to me I’d rather it be a plant, instead of the tax man.

When you need a break from the write-offs and deductions, head out to the garden.  Cutting back the large, thorn-filled excess of last year is the perfect way to de-stress from filling out those forms.

 Winter takes its toll on roses in our area, and because we don’t cap them as they do in eastern areas, the canes die back, leaving us to clip off the dead parts in the spring.  Timing of pruning is crucial to success, because every snip stimulates new growth, leaving it vulnerable to killing frosts.  Waiting until two weeks before the last average hard frost helps cheat the weather.

 The tools you need are few:  hand pruners, loppers for the big canes, heavy gloves, and for really thorny roses, a first aid kit with a tourniquet.  Pruning varies with different rose types, but plan on cutting back hybrid teas and grandifloras every year. 

Once you’ve gathered your tools, approach your rose, looking it over for dead or diseased canes first.  Remove these, then focus on shape.  When pruning roses, always make your cut at a 30 to 45-degree angle, clipping it one-quarter-inch above a live bud.

 Most canes will have a blush of green where there’s live wood; prune the cane back one-half-inch into the green.  Don’t be alarmed if there are only a few inches of green on the canes, this is normal in years when winter is harsh.

Be aware that some older canes or roses with bronze stems may look brown instead of green.  Clip these from the top down, cutting off a smaller portion of the cane each time you snip to check the interior of signs of life (a white center and green inner bark).

Your goal is to prune back the canes to shape the plant, making sure that the center is open to allow light and air to your rose.  Where possible, make your pruning cut above an outward facing bud, so the plant grows out, not in on itself.

 Miniatures, floribundas, and polyanthas are hardier plants that don’t always suffer damage from winter kill.  Check them yearly, pruning off dead and damaged wood, then shape them if needed.

 Climbing roses are more of a challenge; they are often left to grow without training, and canes intertwine.  Shaping them is usually not necessary, but as canes get older they may become unproductive or die.  Alert your family that you’ll be attempting to remove these large canes that are enmeshed with the rest of the plant; they’ll have the bandages ready after your work is done.

Once this task is complete, you can return to bonding with the IRS.  Just tell your friends you got all of those scratches from the tax man.

This post previously appreared in the Longmont Ledger.

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Sad news on the gardening front, folks:  last Friday, April 2, the Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc., and the Jackson & Perkins Company voluntarily filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of South Carolina.

 The 142-year old Park Seed Company offers ornamental and edible seeds and plants, while the 138-year-old Jackson & Perkins is a global name in roses.  Park Seed Wholesale, also listed in the filing, has been providing retailers and growers with products since 1870. 

According to their press release, “The horticulture industry is challenging and highly seasonal in the best of times. As the general economic situation declined starting in 2008, demand for luxury, non-essential purchases dropped sharply. All of our brands experienced significant decreases in sales for core products, including roses, perennials, and garden-inspired gifts.

“This created cash-flow issues that worsened with each passing season. Despite deep cost-cutting and numerous attempts to execute supplier payment programs on our own, we simply could not meet our short- and long-term operating cash requirements. Seeking court protection and restructuring is clearly our best option for returning to a position where we can focus on delighting our customers and resuming sound relationships with our supply chain partners.”

The companies contend that through the process they will be able to keep gardens blooming.  Customers should not be affected by the filing, so if you’ve been mulling purchases you should still plan on ordering. Their garden centers, call centers, and websites are open.

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Just because they’re pampered, smell good, and look great with a tuxedo-clad guy doesn’t mean this princess is a pushover.  In fact, when it comes to hanging tough once the weather gets ugly, the rose proves it’s about as delicate as Mac truck.  Rose hips in fall

Frost, wind, snow and chilly days aren’t enough to stop this blooming beauty, so if you’re putting your garden to bed this month, wait to tuck your roses in until nights in your area are consistently 26 degrees F.  Until then, they’ll continue to bloom even though the weather has us shivering.

 “Don’t put winter protection on too soon,” says Joan Franson, an American Rose Society Master Rosarian, “roses will keep blooming in temperatures down to 30, 28, or 27, but even the dumbest ones know it’s time to go to sleep at 26 degrees.”  Monitor the weather at your house instead of relying on temperatures recorded at the airport, she says, “you’re not growing roses there.”

To become a Master Rosarian, Franson spent over 10 years consulting with rose gardeners in Colorado on how to get the most from their plants.  With her mix of humor and good advice, your roses will survive the winter and be the beauty of the garden for years to come.

 – Begin cutting back on their water now to slow them down, she says, which will also help them harden off.  But do this slowly over the next two to three weeks – going cold turkey is sure to shock them.

 – Wait until temperatures are 22 degrees for several nights before mulching over the crown and graft of the rose.   Scoop several shovels of soil or a mix of compost and bark mulch up over the crown, burying it eight to ten inches deep.  Use an open collar or ring around the plant to hold the mulch in place. 

 Canadian hardy roses and shrub roses are tough enough that they don’t need mulching, unless they were planted this past season and are still getting established.  Hybrids need the extra blanket mulch provides to get through Colorado’s rollercoaster winter temperatures.  Clip old flowers just under blossom

– Deadheading blooms in October – where old, spent flowers are removed – should be done without stimulating the plant to grow new shoots.  By clipping the blossoms just below the flower, but well above the leaves, you’ll get rid of decaying petals without getting new growth. 

 In most cases, canes shouldn’t be pruned until spring; our dry winters cause a bit of cane die back and if you’ve clipped your stems, you’ll have less that survives the season.  But if your plant grew vigorously this year and canes are very tall, cut them back by one-third to keep them from being whipped around and damaged by wind.

 – If the plant had insect or disease problems, apply a sanitizing spray of fungicide and insecticide, covering leaves and canes as well as the ground around the bed under the rose.  This helps suppress spores and bugs that might over winter. 

When we have the warm up so common in January or early February, apply a second dose of this spray to the rose to keep problems at bay.  Safer soaps or horticultural oils also work for this purpose in organic gardens.

 – As our ground freezes and winter sets in, keep an eye on moisture in the soil, watering on warm days above 45 degrees F.  In fall, just before our first predicted hard freeze, deep-water roses to protect the roots from drying out, now that we aren’t actively watering the garden.

(Note to readers:  today’s post first appeared as one of my weekly gardening columns in northern Colorado newspapers.  But Master Rosarian Joan Franson assures me the information is useful no matter where you live, just adjust the timing to match your local conditions. To read more of my columns, please see the Boulder Camera, Longmont Times-Call, or Loveland Reporter-Herald.)

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