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Listen to April rose care tips

Sac Digs Gardening's Arrington is guest on Farmer Fred's podcast

Dark red rose bloom with yellow stamens
Night Owl is one of Debbie Arrington's many roses.The master rosarian talks
April rose care with Fred Hoffman on his Green Acres podcast. (Photo: Debbie

So much growth! So many bugs!

April is among the most active months in the rose garden. Thankfully, the bushes are doing most of the work, pushing out leaves and their first buds of spring. They just need some fertilizer, proper irrigation and a watchful eye.

Along with that big burst of bloom comes problem pests and disease. Rapid spring growth is a magnet for aphids. Hot, dry, dusty conditions can lead to spider mite infestations. And current temperatures are just right for outbreaks of powdery mildew and blackspot.

That gave host Farmer Fred Hoffman and myself plenty to talk about when I was his most recent guest on his “Green Acres Garden Podcast with Farmer Fred.”

“Among the topics we talked about include controlling aphids, powdery mildew, spider mites and black spot; choosing the right fertilizers for your roses; tips on correct watering of roses in the ground or in containers – all great topics,” Hoffman said.

What do you do when you see aphids nibbling on rose buds? Blast them off with a strong stream of water from the hose; their soft bodies won’t survive the impact. Also effective: A few squirts of insecticidal soap.

But watch out for ants. Where there are aphids, ants often led them there. Controlling ants in the rose garden can help cut down on aphid problems, too.

Listen to the full podcast here:

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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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