Photo Courtesy of Carol Sharpe
December in the Garretts' Garden
November brought us some much
needed rain. It also brought us some
colder temperatures. In fact, we
have already had a hard freeze or two which has just about shut down our roses
for the season and they are no longer actively growing.
The few blooms we have been getting were pretty much ruined by the
excessively wet weather. Oh well, we
can always look forward to next spring when we will hopefully have some nice
December is the time we should
start thinking about winterizing our garden.
Winterizing in our garden consists mainly of cleaning up the garden and
protecting our “first year” plants. Cleaning
up our garden begins with getting all of the winter weeds out of our beds.
So far, we have been able to keep the winter weeds pretty much under
control. However, if we continue to
get rain, I am pretty sure they will really start to show themselves.
We have made it a priority to keep the winter weeds under control so we
won’t have to deal with them when we do our spring pruning in March.
Weeding is not a fun job and may take some effort, but believe me, it is
well worth it. While we are out
digging and pulling weeds, we take time to pick off any foliage that may have
blackspot. Finally, we also look for
any dead or diseased canes that need to be removed and cut them out.
Now that we have had some hard
freezes with temperatures at 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, we can cut our
taller bushes back to about four feet tall.
We will probably start doing this the later part of December.
Cutting the tall canes back will help prevent them from whipping around
in the winter wind. Do not prune your plants any more than this until March. Cutting
your bushes back more than this now can cause problems if we have a few warm
days, as your plants might start trying to grow again only to be damaged by
colder weather as we go through the winter.
Sometime during December, we
pick a nice day when the temperature is above freezing (preferably in the
fifties) and apply a lime sulfur dormant spray. You
can possibly find this product at your favorite lawn and garden store. Carefully
read the label and mix the spray at the dormant rate.
Spray your plants and the surrounding area liberally. The
lime sulfur spray will help to kill any disease spores and insect eggs that
might otherwise survive the winter and attack your roses next spring.
We finish our winter
preparation by applying some winter protection to the plants that were
introduced to our garden over the course of this past season.
The extra protection that we like to use is a thick mulch carefully
placed around and over the bud union to keep it from freezing. You
can use a variety of materials to provide this protection, such as pine bark,
mushroom compost, oak leaves, or loose topsoil that is bought in from another
part of the garden. We prefer to use
pine straw, which is readily available in this area. The
pine straw is easy to apply and will also do a nice job of controlling winter
weeds. Regardless of the material
that you choose, be sure to mound it at least 12 inches or more above the bud
union. We are not applying the
protection to keep the soil warm, but rather to keep it at a more constant
This is your last chance to check the pH of your soil before spring. Remember that roses like a slightly acid pH, generally between 6.2 and 6.7. If the pH is below 6.2, go ahead and apply some dolomitic lime now. Your soil should then be “good to go” come spring.
If you haven’t already done
so, now is a great time to take stock of your garden and review how your roses
performed. If you have bushes that
have not lived up to your expectations, go ahead and dig them up now.
If possible, amend the soil where the discarded plants were growing with
lots of organics. The amended soil
will then be ready for the new roses when you get them in the spring.
Speaking of new roses, winter is a great time to do some research on any
new varieties that you may be considering. Too
often we see a plant with a pretty bloom at the nursery and just buy it without
knowing much about it. Do your
research and get all the information you can about which varieties do best for
your garden situation. If possible,
buy your plants locally so you can see what you are getting.
To help you know what roses will be available locally, our society will
post the rose lists on this web site from as many of the local nurseries as
possible. Check it out.
Finally it is time to sit back and try to enjoy the holidays. If
you’re still looking for a gift for any of your gardening friends, why not
consider giving a gift certificate for a rose bush from your favorite local
garden center? Better still, give a
membership to our club!
The Tri-State Rose Society of
Chattanooga wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Rose Year!