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Mailbag: When should I plant a floribunda rose?

For best results, wait until winter and plant bare-root

Daybreaker coral and yellow rose
Daybreaker is among the floribunda roses that do well in Sacramento. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Question: When should I plant floribunda roses?

– Frankie R.

A: Roses can be transplanted year round in California, but Sacramento-area gardeners will have more success if they wait until bare-root season in winter. Then, plant the dormant bush.

When the plant is “asleep,” the bush is much easier to work with – no foliage or gangling stems that may break off and fewer prickles, too. Also, dormant bushes are pruned short; canes on bare-root plants are usually about 24 inches long. That shorter size is easier to manipulate into the planting hole; it’s not as big, bulky or heavy as a bush with all its leaves.

Once transplanted, the dormant bush also has more time to concentrate on its roots and getting “established” before pushing out fresh growth above soil.

Bare-root season traditionally runs December to February in Sacramento, when bare-root roses are most available. Because our soil does not freeze, dormant rose bushes can be transplanted any time during the winter.

Treat the floribunda as you would a hybrid tea or other large hybrid rose. Bare-root roses are “harvested” (dug up from fields) in September or October. By the time they make it to the nursery as bare-root plants, they’ve been out of the ground for quite awhile and need a little TLC.

Before planting, rehydrate the bare-root bush by placing its roots in a bucket of water. Let it stay in the water at least overnight. (It will keep there for several days, if necessary.) Trim off any broken roots or stems before planting.

When planting, make sure the graft – the knot on the main stem where the rootstock is attached to the top growth – is 2 or 3 inches above the soil line. That helps prevent the rootstock from sprouting and overwhelming the bush.

Roses also may be transplanted from pots into the soil (or larger containers) in fall and spring. It's easier to pick out a plant in a nursery when it's in bloom; you can see exactly what the flowers will look like.
Yellow rose
Butter-yellow Julia Child is another popular floribunda rose.

If transplanting a growing bush, keep the rootball and soil intact while transplanting. Lightly prune the bush, so the plant has less chance of die-back.

For more on planting bare-root roses: .

Send us your questions! This new Q&A will be a regular feature on Sacramento Digs Gardening.


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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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