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Mailbag: What size rose to plant? Is my garlic OK?

Potted roses can be transplanted now, but it's better to wait for bare-root season

Pink and white rose bloom
Secret, a hybrid tea, is one of the most popular roses in
Sacramento. It's no secret that roses can be planted any
time in the Sacramento region. (Photo courtesy Sacramento
Rose Society)
and Kathy Morrison

Q: What size rose bush should I purchase to plant in November?

-- Debra Gordon

A: If you’re planting in November, you most likely will be purchasing a bush from a nursery that’s already potted and has been growing throughout 2021. So, purchase a 5-gallon plant (preferably) or larger, at least if it’s a hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub or other full-size variety. (Miniature roses come in 1-gallon pots.)

If you can wait until December, you’ll find a much larger selection of bare-root plants. Those are 3-year-old bushes, ready to go in the ground (or pot), and an excellent value (compared to already potted roses).

When buying bare-root, make sure to rehydrate the roots in a bucket of water overnight before planting. Bare-root roses are field grown and dug up in late September or October. Their roots are wrapped in straw or other material, and the bushes kept in cold storage until (often wrapped and) shipped. They need a drink.

November is prime time for planting shrubs – especially with soft soil after recent rains. It’s easier to dig the hole, yet the soil is still warm enough to prompt root growth.

If transplanting a rose now, it likely will still have its foliage. Do some early pruning; reduce the plant’s canes by one-third in size. Cut out any damaged or dead growth. Loosen the rootball and add a little compost to the planting hole. Otherwise, skip fertilizing until February or March after the rose puts out its first new growth. With winter coming, the bush soon will drop its leaves and enter dormancy.

Even though we had rain, remember to water your new transplant. A full-size rose needs about 5 gallons a week until it goes into dormancy. Then, roses usually get enough water from winter rain.

Garlic sprouts and straw mulch
Give garlic a layer of light mulch for the colder months.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Q: This winter is my first fall/winter garden. I planted garlic 2 weeks ago thinking it would not sprout till spring but it has sprouted. Is that common and will it survive the winter? If not, should I pull it? Thank you. Your posts are very helpful.

-- David Weisbach

A: That sounds normal to me! If you planted the cloves 1 to 2 inches deep they should be fine.

Do you have any mulch on the area where it’s planted? Garlic appreciates a layer of light mulch such as straw or leaves. And keep weeds pulled, since garlic doesn’t like “competition.” Finally, don’t overwater — the rain we’re getting right now should be sufficient for a bit, but if we have a dry December, water only when the soil dries out.

Garlic’s a great crop for our area and you’ll be glad you’ve grown some.

-- Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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