Clean up garden but allow roses to go into dormant season

With comfortably warm daytime temperatures and cooler, more humid nights, roses are happy and bursting with life. If the weather continues for another three or four weeks, it may also be possible to have fresh roses from the garden for use during the Christmas holiday.

Daytime temps are very agreeable for growing roses. It is important that one monitors the irrigation program for your roses. It may be necessary to modify the program if you haven’t changed since the hot, dry summer. With lower temperatures, less water will be needed, but water will still be necessary to produce blooms. Because roses like moist (but not wet) soil reduce the amount of water you apply if we receive above one-inch of rain. I cannot stress enough the importance of “deep watering.” The length of time needed for this depends on several factors: the amount of pressure in the system, amount of delivery by emitter, run time, and type of soil.

Do not fertilize during December or January. Also, while the weather is relatively comfortable, clean up garden debris (such as dead leaves and petals); this will reduce the population of overwintering pests and give you a jump on spring, as well as a healthier garden next year.

December is still a good time in our area to prepare for new plants that you plan to purchase or that will be delivered in January.

The weather is still relatively nice for gardening, and not much else is happening in the garden, so you will have more time now than later for this preparation. This will actually save you time and get your new roses planted sooner. If done now, you will have the hard part of planting accomplished and not be worried and hurried in January.

As winter progresses, the rose will slow down its metabolism, taking a rest. Let the hips set on the bush, remove only the petals to help keep your garden clean and free from any viruses that may come along with the cooler, wetter, winter weather. Do not prune this month. Let the plant enter into a short, dormant period. It is the natural cycle of active, growing, healthy plants reaching its ultimate purpose of producing offspring: seeds in hips. They need a rest from all the work they did all year long.

Warning: Pruning is a way of forcing a plant to produce new foliage and become active; there’s a lot of winter to come in our region, with frost possible as late as March. New tender foliage stimulated by too-early pruning can be frozen, lessening the plants’ ability to recover for great performance next year.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy anticipating all the pleasure your roses will give you next spring! Enjoy the holidays without added pressure of tending your roses.

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