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November rose care: Time for one more round

Warm weather brings out more late-season blooms

Pink rose
The Pink Promise hybrid tea rose promises more to come. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Red and white rose with bee
Bees appreciate November roses, such as this Betty Boop.

Our recent warm weather has given gardeners a bonus: More beautiful roses.

Relatively free of fungal disease thanks to above-average heat, roses are still growing and blooming vigorously. Even the bugs are taking a break.

So, now comes decision time: Do you “deadhead” to encourage more flowers? Or do you let this round of roses be 2020’s last?

Usually in Sacramento, November is last call for roses. Spent blooms are left on the bush to mature into rose hips, the plant’s fruit. It’s a biological signal to the bush that its work is done for the year. Once rose hips form, the bush tends to go into winter dormancy and drops its leaves. Then, it can be pruned – and the whole cycle starts again.

But recent weather has been so warm, bushes think it’s September, not November. They’re not slowing down and most show no signs of leaning toward dormancy and winter’s sleep.

So, snip off spent blooms (what rose folks call deadheading) and water bushes deeply. Make the cut just above a five-leaf leaflet. But skip any fertilizer; too lush of new growth attracts aphids and whiteflies.

Rose hip on bush
Once rose hips form, the bush tends to go into winter dormancy.

After this grooming, one more round of rosebuds will appear. The new blooms will open six to eight weeks after deadheading – just in time for holiday bouquets.

Besides making lovely and welcome late-season bouquets, these late fall roses also serve another purpose: Bee food. Flowers tend to become scarce in November. Bees appreciate having this extra source of pollen and nectar.

Don’t worry if this extra round of roses will throw off your pruning schedule. By mid-December, temperatures should be cool enough to naturally coax bushes into dormancy without much effort. Then, prune in January and early February.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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