Tag Archives: roses

The Monthly Gardner – February 2013

Where to prune a rose.

This has been an unusually cold and wet winter, which means that while January is the ideal time to prune, February is still a good time to get those shears out and prune what you probably did not do last month. But don’t wait till March, particularly if the weather turns hot and dry. And keep up with the harvest of cool-season crops, such as peas, lettuces, and spinach. It will encourage more production.


Roses can still be pruned. Take out all crossing canes, dead canes, or any that look diseased. If any canes have grown below the graft union or bud union, get rid of them. And prune mature bushes to around 18 to 20 inches in height.

Cut back woody and overgrown perennials. If in doubt, look at the base of the plant. If it is sending up fresh growth there, you can safely cut off the dead or old plant material now. Cut back old foliage from ornamental grasses, liriope (monkey grass) and mondo grass to just a few inches high. And evergreens may still be pruned, but avoid pruning them later on this spring and summer.

 Bare-root Planting

Now is the perfect time for bare-root planting (plants without a root ball) There’s a whole host of bare-root plants available through mail order, but if you’re buying locally, roses, berry bushes, artichokes and ornamental trees should be available. For information on how to go about planting bare-root stock, also know as dry-root, check out my January 17, 2012 blog on the subject.


Fertilize roses and perennials at the end of the month and keep them watered. You can use chemical fertilizers (follow package directions on amount and frequency) or organic fertilizers, such as compost, fish emulsion, and others.

In the low desert and other hot areas, feed citrus, avocado, and deciduous trees now, but wait till next month in cooler coastal or higher zones.

Weed Killer

To greatly reduce weeds, apply a pre-emergent weed killer to beds and borders. It works by preventing seeds from germinating, so don’t apply anywhere you’re planting seeds.

And for more information, check out February 2012,  Monthly Gardner.


Growing Roses in Southern California


With the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl starting the year off, I thought there was no better time than now to ask this simple question!

Sacramento Roses

When Is The Best Time To Plant Roses?

And the answer is … it all depends on where you live and the climate zone your in. The simplest solution is to ask your local nursery for frost dates and their recommendation for the best time to plant in your local area.

Since I live and work in Los Angeles and there is very little chance of frost, December or January is an excellent time to plant.  It gives the newly planted roses the time to grow feeder roots before spring arrives and they come out of dormancy.

However, because Southern California has many microclimates, ranging from moderate and moist to severely dry and hot, roses in hotter, drier areas need more care and attention.

The following list of instructions should give anyone interested in growing roses a simple roadmap of how to proceed. It comes from the website eHow home, which has a lot of additional information should you be interested.

Bare Root Planting


  1. Choose roses based on the 24-zone climate system established by “Sunset Magazine.” The University of California Cooperative Extension encourages the use of this system because, unlike the USDA zone system, it also factors in summer high temperatures.
  2. Plant new roses in January. Prune established roses to half their height. Thin out roses and remove excess foliage. Complete all pruning by the end of January.
  3. Remedy problems as soon as they start. Gardeners in Southern California begin to see aphids and mildew in mid-to-late February. Apply insect control and fungicides as needed.
  4. Planting Containerized Rose
  5. Apply a weekly fertilizer during peak growing season, typically from April to mid July.
  6. Feed your roses in March as they begin to develop new foliage. Supply a dose of 20-20-20 fertilizer for optimal results.
  7. Spray for spider mites in April. These bugs harm roses. Use a miticide or wash roses by hand.
  8. Deadhead blooms in May. Southern California roses have two blooming cycles. Mid-May marks the end of the first. Encourage new blooms by removing spent ones.
  9. Keep your roses watered. This is of particular import during peak blooming season, which also coincides with the hottest months of the year. Water daily through the end of October. Remember to water frequently well into fall to account for the dryness caused by the Santa Ana winds.

  10. Complete a round of light pruning in October. Re-apply mildew and pest treatments as needed. Cooler weather allows bugs and fungi to reappear with ease.

Tips & Warnings

Mulch your roses after planting. Mulch slows the growth of weeds and helps lock in moisture.



December’s Gardening Tips


Here are few suggestions:


Transplant: it’s a great time to transplant, but be sure to keep new transplants well-watered if the weather is mild and dry. In warmer regions, now through February, after a killing freeze or a frost, is a good time to move a rose. Transplant it with as much of the roots as possible and keep well-watered.

Roses: don’t fertilize or water roses this month. they need to harden off for winter.

Bulbs: plant pre-chilled spring bulbs, such as tulips and hyacinths.

Plant: bare-root trees, shrubs, roses, and vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, potatoes, and radishes now.


Prune: deciduous fruit trees once they’ve gone dormant and dropped their leaves.

Smart Pruning

  • In those areas where frosts are just an occasional thing, keep plantings well-watered so whenever a freeze threatens, plants are more likely to survive. A “turgid” well-hydrated plant is better-equipped to recover than a dehydrated plant.
  • If a plant is damaged by frost, resist the urge to prune the damaged parts. They may well protect the rest of the plant during the next frost.
  • Cut back dormant grapevines. A bonus: The cuttings make great wreaths!
  • Stimulate wisteria by cutting it back now. Cut back the long, thin branches that appeared this season alongside or entangled with the older wood. Leave two or three buds at the base of the branch.

Lawn: if you’ve overseeded your lawn and there are bare spots, feel free to scatter a bit more seed to fill in. Also, if the weather is warm and dry, you may need to water the lawn.

Happy gardening.