Valley News -

By Frank Brines
Special to Valley News 

Rose Care FUNdamentals for December 2018


Last updated 12/7/2018 at 1:30am

I'm sure that gardeners and their roses appreciated the recent sprinkles or light drizzle or blustery rain depending on location. Temecula received an inch more rain than average for November; this rain and the accompanying cool weather will help to hydrate the thirsty soil. Most areas still haven’t had any temperatures near frost. Roses could still be seen actively growing and blooming in many area gardens during the Thanksgiving holiday, and some rose gardens are coming into a full bloom cycle this very day. Of course, not all blooms are exhibition quality, but it is nice to see them so late in the year.

But believe it or not, roses need a four- to six-week rest or “dormancy” period during the winter months. During dormancy, the plants go through natural hormonal changes that prepare them for the next growing season. Dormancy is triggered by a variety of factors. Cold temperatures, including frost, slow the plant’s metabolism while cold rains chill the soil further slowing growth rates. The current mild temperatures will likely delay setting dormancy this year.

Gardeners can help promote dormancy by not deadheading or pruning this month. Allow the rose “hips” to set and mature so they can send signals to the plant that it’s time to rest and marshal its energy for a vigorous growth spurt in the spring. Just the same, be sure to monitor the plants when daytime temperatures are warm. They still need to be kept hydrated. Also, do not fertilize until after the major pruning in January or February. And then only after a couple inches of new growth.

On the topic of pruning, some gardeners in Temecula Valley are anxious to prune their roses in December. That’s understandable because the area hasn’t had a hard frost yet even though the average date for first frost in the area is Nov. 17. Pruning now not only prevents dormancy but also produces tender new shoots that will most likely be killed by the next hard frost. So, the bottom line is please wait four to six weeks after the first frost to do any major “spring” pruning. In the event that there is no frost or freeze, it is typical to spring prune by mid-February. Watch the Temecula Valley Rose Society website or local newspapers for the dates for free spring pruning workshops. I will be presenting a one-day, one-time pruning demonstration Jan. 26, at 10 a.m. at Rose Haven Heritage Garden, 30592 Jedediah Smith Road, in Temecula. Come prepared to learn and to participate in this hands-on workshop.

I mentioned last month that the Asian “chili thrip” is spreading rapidly in the southwest and is becoming a global threat. This pest is extremely successful and particularly resistant to conventional control methods. The chili thrip is even smaller than the thrips with which locals are familiar. It works in similar ways, only more devastating and more difficult to control. It doesn’t seem to have any preferences except new growth of almost any plant and blossoms. Gardeners with whom I’ve spoken use several different products to gain some control, but a regular program is necessary with applications weekly at least. Its damage resembles the effects of Roundup overspray or rose virus: severely stunted and very narrow leaves, stems and buds.

There is still time to order a new rose bush for the garden. Garden stores may still be adding to their list of orders or go to a favorite online nursery and make an order. There are many fine new roses that a rose lover simply must have. Many are more disease resistant than in the past. Most nurseries or wholesalers no longer print catalogs, so for a list of current roses available visit them online.

A few new varieties I find of interest are: At Last – floribunda, good apricot color, fragrance, disease-resistant; Bordeaux – floribunda/WineRed, large blooms, heat tolerant, disease resistant; Easy Spirit – floribunda/White, Hybrid-T form, fragrance, hybridizer Tom Carruth, disease resistant, lasting form; Frida Kahlo – floribunda/Scarlet Redstriped gold, small clusters, mild fragrance, disease resistant, compact, hybridizers Christian Bedard and Tom Carruth; Gaye Hammond – Bright Yellow with touches of orange, slight fragrance, disease resistant, bloom making machine; Parade Day – Grandiflora/Fuchsia Pink Striped White, strong fragrance, hybridizer Christian Bedard, holds color; Flowerland – Shrubby, Pink, low 1.5-foot growing habit, 60-65 petals, fragrant; it would be great for small spaces or en mass; Golden Iceberg – mild spicy fragrance.

Early last year I acquired Easy Spirit, Frida Kahlo, Parade Day, Fired Up and Rosie the Riveter. All did well for first season plantings.

For more ideas, visit Temecula Valley Rose Society’s Rose Haven garden at 30592 Jedediah Smith Road in Temecula, as well as at Spread the joy of roses.


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