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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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