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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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