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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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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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