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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 March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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