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Spring-like weather brings out the buds


Some roses refuse to quit. This is Pink Promise on Jan. 31. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Some roses refuse to quit during mild winter; prune any way



What do you do when your roses start sprouting new growth before they’re pruned? Prune anyway.

Current spring-like conditions are bringing out fresh and rapid growth on roses – and it’s still January.

Meanwhile, mild winter conditions kept many bushes blooming (and growing) instead of dropping their leaves and resting. For example, my 8-foot-tall Pink Promise just won’t quit.

It’s much easier to prune a bush that’s dormant; it’s already lost its leaves and its naked framework is easier to evaluate.

But it’s also important to remove last year’s foliage before this season’s leaves grow out. The old leaves harbor fungal diseases such as black spot and rust that will rapidly infect that new growth.

In addition, roses tend to sprout new growth at the end of old canes. If you don’t prune back the canes, spring blooms will be way over your head. If unpruned, my Pink Promise soon would be 12 feet tall.

Those little pink points of new growth poking out from the cane
are bud breaks.
Roses are unusual shrubs; they can break buds on old wood. That means they can sprout growth – with a bud eye breaking through the outer protective bark – on almost any healthy cane or trunk.

As days get warmer, more bud breaks appear – even on unpruned canes.

Let those bud breaks be your guide. Prune about ½ inch above the new growth, preferably pointing outward away from the center of the bush.

When pruning, always take out the “3Ds”: Dead, damaged or diseased canes. Then, prune for shape and air flow, eliminating crossing canes.

Concentrate on reducing the overall size of the bush by a third or by half.

Pink Promise, for example, will come down to 4 feet – still a big bush. At that size, it doesn’t have to waste that much energy growing canes from the ground up and get right into sprouting spring blooms.

Judging by how it spent the winter and the bud breaks already appearing on this bush, Pink Promise will have its first spring blooms in six to eight weeks.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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