Garden Tips: Frequently Asked Questions

Garden Tips: Frequently Asked Questions


When should I mulch my roses for the winter?

A good layer of mulch in the fall will protect the root system of roses in cold climates. In climates zone 5 and lower it is also a good idea to mound materials over the bottom 1’-2’ of tender roses to protect them. Materials like mulch and leaves can be used. Some gardeners will use something like chicken wire to build a cage around the rose and then put leaves in it. If your rose is rated for your zone then mulching the ground and perhaps mounding it up a bit around the base will be all you need. Regardless of what you do, after your last frost pull the materials away from the the plant. It can simply be scattered in the bed and that includes leaves. That helps feed the soil.

When should I prune my roses?

The best time to prune roses is in early spring just before new growth starts — sometime after the last killing frost. If you have forsythia in your area prune when it blooms.

Should I prune my roses hard after it’s first season?

Our advice is to use a light hand after the first season. The exception might be a very vigorous roses that put out lots of growth. But try not to prune as hard as you would an established rose.

Where can I plant roses?

Roses need 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day and space to grow. They prefer sun all day but if it is only 5-6 hours then it must be morning sun. Morning shade and afternoon sun does not work well for roses. Please refer to our Rose Spacing Guide for information on each class of rose.

What is the best time of year to transplant roses?

The best time of the year to transplant is in the early spring when you prune. The roses are still dormant but will wake up soon. Plus when you prune them you cut them back which is a necessary part of transplanting. You can transplant in fall but be sure to do it 4-6 weeks before your first frost so the rose can get its new root system established. Cut them back like you were pruning them before you move them. Mulch heavily to keep the root system warm.

How do I know if roses will grow in my area?

Roses are extremely hardy plants and will grow in just about any area of the country. In the most northern areas, however, plants do require some winter protection. The best thing is to check your zone and then use our zone information listed for each individual rose to find ones that will do well in your area.

Why are roses more fragrant at certain times?

Roses are often more fragrant in a warm, humid atmosphere, and during the brief time before a summer storm. Drought, extreme heat, or very cold days diminish the fragrance of roses.

Can I grow roses in containers?

Yes, roses can be grown in containers. Miniature roses and small floribundas are easiest, but even hybrid teas will do nicely in planter boxes.

How soon after planting will roses be in bloom?

Floribunda, hybrid tea and hedge roses will bloom in just 6 to 8 weeks after planting. Climbers will bloom a little during the first season, but are really at their best by the second year. The first year they put their energy into growing.

Where are roses commonly grown?

Most roses sold in the United States are grown in California and Arizona. Jackson & Perkins uses different growers depending on if the roses is budded or own-root. But we always make sure to use the best growers available.

Can I fertilize my roses during their first season?

The answer is yes, but it’s important not to over do it. During your rose’s first year you want it to concentrate on building a good root system. So use a fertilizer where the first number (nitrogen) is low because that is what stimulates top growth. Time release fertilizers are idea because they feed slowly over the first season. The nitrogen can be higher in time release fertilizers. Seaweed based liquid fertilizers applied to either the leaves or the ground can also be used and is in fact encouraged.


When should clematis be cut back, if at all?

Twice-blooming clematis, those cultivars that flower in the spring or summer and then again in the fall, need only a light shaping or pinching off of the tips. The idea is to stimulate growth from the top. Clematis that bloom in spring only can be cut back after they flower to preserve the shape and prevent the vines from becoming overgrown and tangled. Summer or fall blooming clematis can be trained with a spring pruning (or early fall in mild climates). Cut these vines way back to 6” or 1’ above the ground when young, to 2’ or less as they mature.

How should I prepare my soil for spring planting?

If you live in an area where the ground freezes, wait to work the soil until a fistful crumbles rather than stays stuck in a tight ball. When the soil becomes workable, rototill or dig in organic amendments such as shredded leaves, compost, manure or peat moss. If you’re gardening in poor, compacted soil, sow a quick cover crop of nitrogen-rich clover, annual rye or buckwheat in early spring. These “green manures” fix nitrogen in the soil and loosen it up with their vigorous roots. Turn cover crops over into the soil before they bloom and go to seed. If your soil drains poorly, consider building raised beds. This is the best strategy for growing trees and shrubs, including roses, in a heavy clay soil.

How should I prune flowering shrubs?

The general rule of thumb is to prune shrubs that bloom on new wood — such as hybrid tea roses and butterfly bushes — in late winter or early spring while they are still dormant. Cut back shrubs that flower on old wood - including lilacs, hydrangeas and forsythia - after they flower.

What can I plant for winter color in my yard?

Many shrubs and trees, even those that are leafless in the winter, offer pleasing and colorful seasonal effects. Established climbing hydrangeas, birch trees, various kinds of maples and Contorta trees all have graceful silhouettes or colorful bark that stand out against the winter skyline. Ornamental grasses, including Maiden Grass ‘Gracillimus’, stay attractive throughout the winter. For early-flowering color, look to hardy perennials such as Christmas Rose Hellebore and Lenten Rose Hellebore. The bright red new foliage of shrubby Pieris ‘Variegata’ also perks up the late winter landscape.


How do I store my amaryllis bulb when the plant goes dormant?

All amaryllis and other bulbs need a rest period in order to bounce back with another show of foliage and flowers. When the leaves of your amaryllis begin to yellow and wither, stop watering. The bulb can be stored either while still in pots or removed, cleaned of excess soil and placed in a paper bag filled with dry peat moss. Store amaryllis bulbs in a cool, dark place for at least three months. When the bulb begins to sprout at the top, replant it in fresh soil, water and bring it into a cool, sunny room to restart the growth cycle.


How often should a bonsai be watered indoors during the winter?

Water bonsai plants frequently. In their shallow pots, with limited root space, they can easily dry out. As soon as the soil surface begins to dry, place the pot in a baking pan filled with about an inch of water. Leave the pot standing in the water until the soil surface becomes moistened. In between waterings, mist the bonsai’s leaves with water from a spray bottle.


Why won't my phalaenopsis orchid rebloom?

When orchids refuse to flower, they usually aren’t receiving enough light. When your plant is actively growing and developing new leaves, move it to a bright, east-facing window or place it under a grow light during daytime hours. This will help stimulate formation of new bloom spikes. Mix in diluted orchid food when you water to promote healthy leaf and flower bud growth. Phalaenopsis orchids also prefer warm indoor temperatures of 75-80° F during the day and 65-70° F at night. They thrive in high humidity, which you can furnish by placing a saucer of damp pebbles under the pot.