Temecula Valley Rose Society

Rose Care Corner, January 2006

By Frank Brines, ARS Consulting Rosarian

New rose plants will be appearing on the market this month. Shop early for the best selection. The earlier you plant, the more productive your new roses will be, because they'll have time to establish a good root system and benefit from the Spring rains. Try to plant by the end of February so they have plenty of time. If you did your homework during all your leisure time over the holidays (NOT!), you should know exactly which roses you want to buy. If you don't, here are some helpful hints.

Selecting Rose Varieties.   The best way to identify roses you'll love in your own garden is to visit friends' gardens and public gardens such as the Huntington Library, Balboa Park, and our own Rose Haven. Unfortunately, you won't find many roses blooming this time of year! As an alternative, visit the Web site www.helpmefind.com/roses/ and click the Favorites button. You'll see a list of rose characteristics such as bloom color, form, and fragrance. Click the + sign to the left of each characteristic to see which varieties other visitors have voted their favorites for that characteristic. You can then follow a link to a full description of the rose. The description page also includes an "Available From" tab that lists suppliers.

Keep these things in mind.  
Buying Roses.   There is still time to order roses from the major suppliers. A few of the most popular Internet sites are listed at the end of this article. You can also find good bare-root and potted roses at Armstrong Garden Centers, Home Depot, and Lowe's. Rose club members who want to make a nice daytrip and get a 10% discount on roses can visit Kniffing's Discount Nursery in El Cajon. The address is given at the end of this article. Because you should plant as soon as you can after purchase, have your soil ready. If you don't mix your own soil, buy a pre-mixed potting soil specifically formulated for roses.

Bare-root roses are graded based on the number and size of canes. The highest grade is grade 1. Look for three obviously green canes, 1/2 inch diameter, and at least 15 inches long. You will recut the canes, so they need to be long enough to end up about 12 inches long after recutting. If you want to save a few dollars you can select a grade 1.5 rose; look for two good canes, but keep in mind that the potential for first year volume is lower.

Preparing Bare-Root Roses for Planting.   Remove wrapped bare-root roses from the plastic bag and retain the label for information on planting and culture. Gently tease off the peat packing, inspect the roots and prune off those that are broken. Soak the root ball (or the whole plant) overnight in a pail of water.

Prepping Your Established Roses.   Our weather has been mild so your established roses must be forced into dormancy. You should have stopped dead heading in November or December to signal to the roots that it's dormant season. Help them further this month by stripping off all the leaves and discarding them. Clean up any dead leaves and other debris that has accumulated to reduce disease and pest carryover.

Spring Pruning.   The club will hold a pruning demonstration at the regular meeting on January 19, and public demonstrations on each Saturday in January. To make your January/February pruning easier, cut the plants down to 24 to 30 inches tall so you have plenty of room to maneuver. You prune indiscriminately, because you're going to do a proper pruning shortly. (In my garden, I watch for praying mantis egg cases and make sure I don't disturb them. You can prune them off, but put them aside somewhere they won't be bothered. If you don't know what those look like, go to Google, type "praying mantis egg case" and click Images.)

Next, do a proper pruning to leave 3 to 5 good, strong, green canes. To do that, remove any canes that are growing through the center of the plant or rubbing other canes, as well as weak, spindly canes and old brown canes. Finally, prune the remaining canes to a height of 18 to 24 inches (certainly not shorter than 12 inches), always cutting just above an out-facing bud.

Watch for a 24 hour period of dry weather and apply dormant spray. (Our club gets 10% discount on rose products at L&M in Temecula.) Then it's time to start a feeding program. More about that in the next newsletter.

Popular Web sites for Ordering Roses

Kniffing's Discount Nursery
14940 Oak Creek Rd
El Cajon, CA, 92021
(619) 561-0611




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