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GARDEN TIPS – written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written November 8, 2015

Two weeks ago we talked about the fall garden chores that should be done once fall arrives and cool weather starts to prevail. Here are some tasks that are “good-to-do” but are not absolutely necessary.

CLEAN UP VEGETABLE GARDEN: In the fall, it is a good practice for vegetable gardeners to clean up the garden by removing plants that are done producing or killed by frost. Plants without any obvious disease problems may be chopped up and composted. However if the plants were diseased, do not use them in a compost pile. Once you have the plants removed, add organic matter to the soil by tilling in finished compost or chopped up leaves.

PRUNING BACK ROSES? If you originally come from a colder area of the country like I do, you are probably familiar with the process of severely cutting back roses in the fall and covering the bushes with soil or a loose mulch for protection from cold temperatures. Because winter temperatures here are usually not bitterly cold, severe fall pruning is not needed and can actually make the plants more vulnerable to cold temperature damage. However, after several hard frosts it is good to prune tall rose shrubs back to a height of about three feet to keep them from blowing about in gusty fall and winter winds and possibly uprooting the plants.

CLEAN-UP FLOWER PLANTERS: Spring is a busy time of year so the more cleanup you do now, the further you will be ahead of the game next season. Take advantage of mild fall days to tidy your flower container gardens. Remove all the plants, roots and all, by pulling or digging. Use a garden knife or a sharp trowel to dig and break up root masses and clumps of potting mix. (If you grew ornamental sweet potatoes, you may find a sizable tuber or “sweet potato” as part of the roots. These are edible, but are most likely not very tasty.)

GARDEN TOOLS: If you put your tools away clean and in good working condition, they will be ready for you next spring when you are anxious to get out and GARDEN! Use a wire brush to clean the soil off your digging tools and then use a flat mill file to sharpen their blades, if needed. Do this by filing away from you using long strokes. If you have not done this before, you can probably find a “how-to” video on-line. For tools with wooden handles, rub the wood with boiled linseed oil. This helps prevent the wood from drying and cracking. If the handle is rough, sand it before applying the oil.

YARD ART: If you have any pottery or concrete bird baths, take time to clean them off and store them in the garage or storage shed. If you leave them out in the yard, any water in them may freeze, causing cracks and chips. I winterize my bird bath by scrubbing out the bowl, wiping it off, and then placing it under the eaves (no room in the garage) with the basin upside down so it will not collect leaves, snow, or rain. If you have a bird bath or fountain that is too heavy to move, drain it, fill the bowl with burlap or blankets to absorb condensation, and then cover it with heavy plastic sheeting to prevent it from filling with moisture. Secure the plastic well to avoid problems with wind. If removable, take fountain pumps indoors for the winter. Also, clean off other types of garden art, like gazing balls and wind chimes, and store them away in the garage.


GARDEN TIPS – written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written Septemer 20, 2015

Let’s face it, our lives today are very busy. While we gardeners may not mind spending time in our gardens, only the most devoted rose lovers enjoy the time and hard work it takes to care for traditional rose shrubs. Plant breeders, working to meet the needs of today’s gardeners, have developed easy-care roses that make this beloved bloom more accessible.

Not long ago I mentioned that I was a fan of Oso Happy Smoothie. It is a rose with single pink flowers and a mounded habit, growing about 3 feet tall and wide. It has no thorns, is very winter hardy, and only needs a bit of shaping in the spring. It is resistant to powdery mildew and black spot diseases. It is a continuous bloomer, flowering in early, mid, and late summer, providing an abundance of raspberry pink blooms all summer long.

Oso Happy Smoothie is just one of the easy-care roses promoted by Proven Winners. This year they introduced Oso Easy Lemon Zest, the newest member of the Oso Easy series. It grows about 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, producing lemony yellow flowers that don’t fade to white once open. Like the other members of the series, Lemon Zest requires little pruning, is very disease resistant, blooms continuously, and is self-cleaning. Self-cleaning means that their faded flowers do not require “dead-heading” or removal by pruning back to a bud or leaf to encourage re-bloom that is needed with traditional rose shrubs.

Easy-care roses are not new to the garden scene. The Tesselaar company has been touting their Flower Carpet rose series since introducing ‘Flower Carpet Pink’ 20 years ago, calling it the first “eco-rose.” Pink Splash with bicolor hot pink and pale pink flowers is one of their newer introductions.

Tesselaar indicates that members of their series are low-growing and compact, disease resistant, and require little pruning. They are also continuous blooming and self-cleaning. Depending on the cultivar, they grow about 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Once established, they are hardy to Zone 5 and tolerant of low water and drought conditions. Their “Next Generation Flower Carpet” cultivars, Amber, Pink Supreme, and Scarlet, are more heat tolerant than the older cultivars. They recommend pruning these roses back to one third their size in early spring.

The Knock Out series of roses, introduced in 2000, has become poplar with gardeners. Like other easy-care roses, they are winter hardy, continuous blooming, self-cleaning, and disease resistant. They grow about 4 feet tall and wide and sometimes larger. There are currently seven members of the Knock Out series. I am partial to the Double Pink Knock Out for its pretty pink double flowers.

Knock Out roses work well in mixed shrub and flower borders or as a hedge. Pruning is fairly simple. Most years all that is needed is a little pruning in the spring to shape the plant and remove any dead, damaged, or diseased canes. Every several years they need more severe pruning to remove one third of the oldest canes. To maintain them as a hedge, use hedgers to cut them back in the spring to two feet below the desired size.

Some rose experts disdain easy-care roses for lacking the fragrance and beauty of traditional rose shrubs. William Radler, the developer of Knock Out roses, admits that these are not exhibition roses, but are intended for today’s busy gardener who wants low-maintenance roses that require less pruning and less chemicals. However, Radler hopes to develop low-maintenance hybrid tea, floribundas, and other traditional rose shrubs. If he does, that should make all gardeners who love roses happy.

67th Annual Rose Show

GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written May 28, 2015

This Saturday, May 30 the Tri-City Rose Society (TCRS) will be holding their 67th Annual Rose Show. It is amazing that this local group of rose enthusiasts has been holding this show and sharing their love of roses with other gardeners in the Tri-Cities for so many years. The show allows rose growers to show off their beauties and provides local gardeners the opportunity to ask rose experts about growing this popular bloom.

One of the Tri-Cities Rose Society’s members that will be answering questions and showing off her roses is Norma Boswell. She is a dedicated member of the TCRS, serving as editor or co-editor of the monthly TCRS Rose Herald newsletter for 33 years, plus holding the offices of secretary, vice-president, and president at different times. In addition, she is an American Rose Society consulting rosarian. This means she is strongly committed to sharing her knowledge of roses and their care with others.

Many gardeners know that roses can be difficult to grow without using chemicals for insect and disease control, but Boswell has taken on the challenge and practices organic rose care.  She does not rely on broad-spectrum insecticides for getting rid of aphids, instead she has become acquainted with beneficial insects and says, “It’s good to know what the larval stages look like so I can allow them to dine on my aphids.”

Like so many other TRS members, Boswell has lots of roses. She grows no less than 60 roses with a focus on miniature roses. What are miniature roses?  They are diminutive rose bushes that grow from 3 to 36 inches or more, depending on the cultivar. Small in stature, their blooms are also small, only 1 to 3 inches in diameter, and typically with little fragrance.

Mini’s have become increasingly popular in US gardens, perhaps because their size makes them easier to fit into the smaller yards and landscapes of today and their care is less burdensome. They can be planted amongst other shrubs or perennials in the landscape for a little “pop” of color here and there without worrying that they will take over their allotted space. Their reduced size and hardiness also make them good candidates for growing in patio containers.

Pruning can be as easy as shaping the plants with hedging shears, but this leads to dense shrubs that are more prone to disease and insect pest infestations. Rose experts like Boswell recommend pruning them much like regular roses every spring, but not as severely. Remove any canes that are dead, diseased, weak, or crossing, opening up the center and leaving healthy, vigorous canes. It is also advisable to cut miniature rose shrubs back in height by 1/3 at pruning time.

Boswell and the other TRS members invite you to join them for the 67th Annual Rose Show of the Tri-City Rose Society will be on Saturday, May 30th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Richland Community Center at 500 Amon Park Drive in Richland. If you do attend the show, look for Boswell’s mini-roses as well as her wonderful miniature rose arrangements.


written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published April 11, 2014


Last weekend I took on the project of pruning my roses, nicknaming myself “Marianne the Merciless.” I showed no mercy to my roses that had not been pruned correctly for several years because I had negligently waited too each spring to get in there and get the job done right.

I pulled on my rose gauntlet gloves, picked up my sharpened loppers and hand pruners, and went to work. It was not an easy task. Roses grow terrifically well in our region and mine had grown to a height of almost six feet last year. When I was done, I had mountains of rose prunings and bushes that hopefully will perform better this summer.

Satisfied with a job well done, I was amazed that I did not look like I had tangled with a vicious animal. I wore long sleeves and my new rose gauntlet gloves. The glove hands are made of leather and the “gauntlet” cuffs are made of canvas that reaches almost to my elbows. They kept my hands and arms free of thorny pokes and scratches.

I purchased my pair at a local garden store, but they can also be ordered on-line. If you have a lot or roses or raspberries, you should consider investing in a pair of all-leather rose gauntlet gloves. My new gloves were quite stiff when I started and a little tight. If you purchase a quality pair of gauntlet gloves, make sure they are the right size for your hands. Many of the companies selling quality rose gloves have size charts to guide you.

The other thing that made my job easier was having sharp pruning tools. It is difficult to cut out thick woody old canes with dull loppers. If you know how to sharpen your tools, do it before taking on your spring pruning chores. If not, find someone who can do it for you.

Rich Redekopp, one of our Master Gardener rose experts, told me about another “pruning” tool that I’m considering getting for taking out tough old dead wood or very thick canes. Redekopp recommends the cordless Milwaukee Hackzall Reciprocating Saw fitted with a pruning blade. He pruned some roses outside our office and his saw made quick work of the gnarly old dead growth in these neglected roses.

Roses are very forgiving. You can prune them incorrectly (or not at all) and they will still produce beautiful blooms. However, with correct pruning your shrubs will not grow out of control and the rose blooms will be bigger. Helen Newman, Master Gardener rose expert and Tri-Cities Rosarian, notes that your goals are to remove the “dead, diseased, damaged, and dinky” canes. Experts call them the four “D’s” of pruning roses. You should also remove shoots that are old and gnarled, growing in the center of the shrubs, or crisscrossing each other.

Published: 4/11/2014 11:46 AM


written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Last week we talked about when and how to prune roses. Since spring is right around the corner, now’s a good time to talk about the two rose problems that local gardeners often face… aphids and powdery mildew.

APHIDS: Aphids are small green or pinkish soft-bodied insects found in clusters on succulent new bud and stem growth. The aphids suck sap from the plant. When they’re present in high numbers, they damage growth. Rose aphids overwinter as eggs on buds and stems, emerging at the same time that new growth begins in the spring.

Horticultural oils can be used to help minimize aphids problems by smothering aphids eggs before the young aphids emerge. The oils are applied at the delayed dormant stage, when the buds start to emerge.

There are other least-toxic ways to discourage the buildup of aphid infestations on roses. Avoid excessive or unnecessary applications of nitrogen fertilizer. The nitrogen promotes vigorous, succulent growth where aphids like to feed. Using a slow-release or low nitrogen fertilizer can avoid lush early-season growth.

Another non-chemical option for managing aphids is water. A strong stream of water can be used to wash aphids off rose leaves and stems. Spraying roses regularly with water is an easy way to keep aphid populations down.

If these methods fail, there are a number of organic and inorganic pesticides for aphid control. The easiest to use are the systemic insecticide products that are mixed with water and applied to the soil for uptake by the roots. The Bayer Advanced product line includes several soil-drench products containing imidacloprid for use on roses.

POWDERY MILDEW: Powdery mildew is a fungus disease characterized by a white powdery coating on leaves and buds. You can minimize powdery problems by not encouraging succulent growth which is most vulnerable to infection by powdery mildew. Also, sprinkling plant leaves with water helps by washing spores off the plant.

One new ‘organic’ spray that gardeners have been reading about for control of powdery mildew is milk, yes the stuff that comes from a cow. However, while this recommendation has appeared in various gardening publications, Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU Extension Horticulturist, points out that there have been no published scientific studies investigating the use of milk to prevent powdery mildew on roses or other ornamental plants. There have been studies on the effectiveness of milk spray applications for the control of powdery mildew on melons, cucumbers, and squash. These studies indicate that whole milk does provide some control of powdery mildew.

Chalker-Scott notes that the only anecdotal evidence, not scientific research, indicates that milk is effective in controlling powdery mildew on roses. She also points out the drawbacks of using milk for powdery mildew prevention include the unpleasant odor of the milk fat as it breaks down, the growth of benign fungal organisms that colonize the leaves as part of the break down process, and that milk may only be effective if it’s applied prior to powdery mildew developing.

With those drawbacks, you may prefer to use an organic or inorganic fungicide for control of powdery mildew on roses Most of these require frequent (every seven to ten days) application to protect new growth as it develops. However, tebuconazol can be applied as a soil-drench for uptake by the roots. Several Bayer Advanced rose care products contain both tebuconazol and imidacloprid, providing aphid and powdery mildew control for ‘up to six’ weeks. These products are a bit pricey, but they avoid the risk of spray drift and don’t require spray equipment or frequent re-application.
Published: 3/9/2012 11:33 AM


written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

It seems like almost every area gardener grows roses if they have the space. Gardeners who are particularly fond of roses seldom have just one shrub, more often it’s ten, twenty or more. Perhaps this overwhelming affection for roses is why gardeners ask so many questions about roses, including when to prune, how to prune, and how to manage rose pests and diseases.

The most common inquiry is regarding the best time to prune roses in the spring. Local Tri-City rose experts and experts from around the country recommend waiting to prune until the yellow-flowering shrub forsythia is in full bloom. For impatient gardeners it’s hard to wait this long, especially when the leaf buds are swelling and appear ready to pop open. Waiting helps protect the plant from frost and cold damage that can still happen during late winter and early spring.

Roses tend to be very forgiving shrubs, so you can pretty much prune them any time of the year without killing them. However, pruning at the ‘wrong’ times of year can weaken the plants. Avoid pruning them right after they leaf out in the spring. Roses should also not be pruned in late summer or early fall because it can stimulate new growth that wouldn’t be ready for winter, making the plant more vulnerable to damage from cold winter temperatures.

What can be done about overgrown roses shrubs that haven’t been pruned for a year or more? Get rid of them? There’s no need to yank them out, but the tangled mess will be difficult to approach with just pruning shears and light-duty loppers. Brenda Viney of the Vancouver Rose Society (Canada) notes that the Royal National Rose Society in England recommends an ‘easy care method’ of pruning for modern shrub roses.

This ‘easy care method’ involves using a small chainsaw, hedge trimmer, or pruners to simply cut rose shrubs back to half their height in the spring, ignoring any fine pruning to remove weak and twiggy canes. She points out that the Royal National Rose Society indicates that these ‘roses flourish just as well as those pruned in the traditional method.’

I know of some local gardeners who use a chainsaw to cut back their roses in the spring and then they do a little cleanup pruning to open up the center of the shrub and remove old woody canes and any weak, spindly growth. Using a small chainsaw or heavy-duty hedge trimmer might be the easiest way to cut back neglected roses and regain control. I would recommend pruning them back to about 10 to 18 inches in height and then pruning to open up their centers.

Published: 3/2/2012 11:25 AM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Last week a frustrated gardener came in and said that the spinosad pesticide product that he had purchased wasn’t doing anything to control the aphids on his roses. I wasn’t surprised. Spinosad is most effective in controlling chewing insects, such as caterpillars, leaf beetles, leaf rollers, and thrips. Aphids are a sucking insect. There are other materials that are much more effective against aphids.

While it’s sometimes hard to find knowledgeable staff at stores that sell pesticides, the pesticide label is a great source of information. It will tell you what types of plants you can use the product on, how to apply the material, and what type of pests it will control. This gardener’s spinosad container was empty so he gave us the label. Did you know that pesticide label print is so minuscule that just trying to read it can be frustrating?

If you can decipher the tiny print, you should be able to find out what pests the product will supposedly control effectively. I could find no aphids listed on the label anywhere. If the type of target pest that’s troubling your plants is not on the label, don’t buy it… even if the store clerk says it “should work.”

The label will give instructions for the amount of material to use for application and how to mix it. In addition, the label will provide you with any special precautions you should take to protect yourself, your plants, or wildlife. Even if a material is considered “organic” and relatively benign, it can pose a hazard. Spinosad, as noted on the label, is highly toxic to bees. The label warns not apply it to blooming plants.

Another part of the label that should be heeded is the minimum number of days you must wait from your last application until you harvest the fruits or vegetables. This varies from crop to crop. For example, you must wait seven days to harvest apples after spraying them with this spinosad product, but you only have to wait one day after treating tomatoes. Even if a material is designated as an “organic” material, it doesn’t mean you can eat treated crops right after application. For any type of insecticide or fungicide, check the label when treating food crops for how long you must wait.

This spinosad label also directs you as to the maximum times you may use it in one season on the same plant and the minimum days to wait before reapplying it. These are aimed at preventing insects from building-up resistance to the material.

So what should have the “frustrated” gardener used instead of spinosad to kill aphids on his roses. If he wanted to use an “organic” or less toxic material, I would recommend an insecticidal soap or neem oil product. Thorough coverage of infested plants is crucial in achieving success with these. Since this is a non-food crop, there are other non-organic, more toxic products that will also kill aphids effectively. Products containing acephate, cyfluthrin, or imidacloprid should provide good rose aphid control.

When selecting any pesticide product read the entire label, even though the print is much to small to make this easy. Make sure the pest is listed on the label. Make sure the type of crop or plant is listed on the label. Read and follow all precautions for that product’s safe use in your garden and landscape, whether the material is organic or non-organic. This will protect your garden from pests and you from becoming a frustrated gardener.

Published: 8/14/2010 8:48 AM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

What’s your favorite rose? There are zillions of rose varieties, but my favorite has always been ‘Peace.’ When you shop for new roses from a catalog or at a nursery in early spring, it’s difficult to tell from pretty photographs whether you’ll like the variety once it’s growing and flowering in your garden.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but seeing the real thing is even better. I recommend that you visit the magnificent Rose Garden in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick. They don’t have every rose variety under the sun, but they do have over 100 varieties for your enjoyment. This garden is a treasure for would-be rose shoppers who want to check out rose varieties before they buy.

On display at the Master Gardener Rose Garden you’ll also find the current year’s All-America Rose Selections winners, as well as recent winners. The All-America Rose Selections (AARS) group is a nonprofit association with the primary goal of introducing and promoting the best of the best new rose varieties.

In 1938, AARS established a program for testing roses to encourage and challenge the rose industry to develop better roses, roses that are more disease resistant, easier to grow, and more beautiful. ‘Peace,’ my favorite rose variety, was honored by AARS with its selection in 1946, the year it was introduced. That’s before I was born!

This year, for the first time in 20 years, only one rose was honored with the AARS distinction. ‘Easy Does It’ is the only 2010 AARS winner. It’s a distinctly different floribunda with ruffled petals and double rich mango-orange, peach-pink, and ripe apricot colored flowers. It’s a gorgeous rose with a mildly fruity fragrance. Plus, the plant is both disease resistant and vigorous.

Just what does it mean to be a AARS rose winner? AARS rose winners go through two years of extensive testing in 23 test gardens nationwide. ‘Easy Does It’ excelled in 15 categories including overall beauty, disease resistance, and ease of maintenance. The AARS red-rose logo designation means that ‘Easy Does It’ should be easy to grow for gardeners around the country.

Local gardeners might wonder if any of these test gardens expose roses to the types of conditions found in our part of Central Washington. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes” because one of those 23 test gardens is also located right here in our Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. Every year the local Benton Franklin Master Gardener group receives about 200 roses from AARS . The roses are planted in test beds and evaluated for two years before being removed to make way for new “contestants.”

Take time this week to tour the Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden and seek out the Rose Garden and the Rose Test Garden so you can enjoy the over 600 beautiful roses planted there. It smells wonderful. After your visit, you can thank the Master Gardeners by helping them win the “America’s Best Rose Garden” competition sponsored by AARS. This nationwide competition’s purpose is to identify the best public rose gardens in the US. The top garden will be presented with a plaque, $2,500, and national recognition for our local garden. It’s easy, just go on-line at and click on the VOTE button. Look for Washington’s “Master Gardener Demonstration Rose Garden” and vote for it.

Published: 6/19/2010 9:40 AM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Just like the tomato is the staple crop of the home veggie garden, the rose has been the universally favored flower of the garden. I know many gardeners who have ten rose bushes or more. However, I’ve noticed that fewer gardeners today are indulging in their passion for roses on a large scale. The reasons? Modern hybrid teas and floribunda shrubs are a lot of work, requiring regular pruning, deadheading, and pest control. Also, with the emerging trend of smaller yards, gardeners don’t have the room to overindulge in their love of roses.

To meet the changing needs of gardeners, rose breeders have worked at developing roses that are more compact and have good repeat bloom. They’ve also endeavored to create roses that are hardy, don’t sucker, are resistant to disease and insects. Many of the new roses that meet these criteria are placed in the general category of “shrub roses.”

However, the “shrub rose” category is a bit murky and seems to be a catch-all term for roses that don’t fit in anywhere else in the traditional categories, such as hybrid teas, floribunda, climbers, or miniatures. A rose classified as a “shrub rose” may be compact and easy to fit into a garden with other plants or it may be as tall as six feet or more. In retail catalogs, some growers have decided to aptly name the improved modern shrub roses, “landscape roses.”

Meidiland Landscape Roses, developed by French breeders, were perhaps the first of the newer shrub roses to catch the fancy of American gardeners with 1987 All America Rose Selection (AARS) winner, Bonica. It’s a vigorous shrub rose growing to five feet tall and wide with clusters of single soft pink flowers. Members of the Meidiland Landscape Rose family are known for their easy maintenance and abundant bloom.

The Knockout series of landscape roses, developed by Bill Radler is a well known line of modern landscape roses. In 2000, Radler introduced the first of the series, ‘Knockout,’ another AARS winner. Now called a “classic,” ‘Knockout’ was the first in this illustrious series. It filled the criteria for the modern shrub roses with compact growth (height and width of 3-4 feet), great hardiness, disease resistance, and even drought tolerance.

The Carefree series is another popular named series of roses launched in 1991 with

Carefree Wonder

. It has semi-double hot pink and white flowers and grows five feet in height. This year ‘Carefree Spirit,’ with single bright red flowers is a 2009 AARS winner.

Pruning and deadheading are two of the most onerous tasks of modern hybrid roses, but the attractive feature of many of the landscape roses is that they don’t require as much detailed pruning. All that’s needed are hedge shears to prune shrubs back to half their height in late winter. For those who feel they must, the shrubs will also benefit from pruning out some of the oldest canes and any dead or weak growth . Deadheading is easy, especially since many landscape roses are self-cleaning, not requiring pruning to remove spent blooms to prompt re-bloom. If they’re not self-cleaning varieties, all that’s needed is hedge shears to shear off the spent blooms.

If you love roses, but don’t want all the hard work that can come with growing them, consider planting a few of the new landscape roses. After all, a rose is a rose, these are just easier to grow.

Published: 11/21/2009 12:49 PM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

In the warmer parts of our region, forsythia is starting to bloom … a sign that it’s time to prune your roses. An army of Master Gardeners and Sharefest volunteers worked in the rain last Saturday getting the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden ready for the growing season. This included pruning the over 600 roses in the rose gardens. This was a bigger task than usual because they found a lot of winter injury. This is most likely due to the extremely cold temperatures the roses were subjected to this past winter.

If you have roses you’ll probably find some damage too. When you prune back your roses, keep cutting to where the bark is green and the pith or center of the cane is white. On the more tender roses this year, you may find yourself pruning back to the base of the plant. If there is a lot of winter damage on your roses, this will pretty much dictate how far back to prune and what you leave for growth this year.

If your shrubs came through with flying colors, standard pruning is in order, but pruning roses is a tangling puzzle that needs to be approached logically. First, remove any dead canes, cutting them off at their base. Next, look for smaller, weak canes (anything smaller than a pencil in thickness) and remove all of them.

Following this, look for the older canes (They are woody and gray, especially at the base.) and take them back to the base of the plant. This is easier said than done, especially given the thorny nature of these beasts. Heavy-duty loppers or even a little pruning saw may be needed to accomplish the task.

Your end goal is a shrub with three to five evenly spaced strong, healthy, thick young green canes. The center of the pruned shrub should be open. The canes that are left should be pruned to an outward facing bud. The length of the canes depends on the size of the shrub you want. I like to leave mine at 12 to 18 inches in length. Finish up by sealing the end of each cane with a drop of white craft glue, such as Elmer’s glue. This deters cane boring insects.

Some gardeners with limited space in their landscapes have decided on growing miniature roses because of their more diminutive size and easier care. They are indeed smaller than traditional rose shrubs, but can grow larger than their name might infer. Most grow to a height and width of 12 to 24 inches, but some can grow larger especially in local gardens. (When purchasing, check the anticipated height and width for the variety.)

Pruning mini-roses is not difficult. Just prune out the dead, diseased, and old canes along with the very twiggy growth. Open up the center a bit and remove any suckers growing from the base of the plant. Then prune the shrub to the size and shape you want. If it has outgrown the space you have given it, just prune it more heavily.

Roses aren’t the only plants that have suffered from winter’s cold temperatures. Next week we’ll talk about the winter injury being seen on other shrubs in the landscape and what to do about it.

Published: 3/28/2009 2:11 PM

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