Garden Tips: Frequently Asked Questions

Garden Tips: Frequently Asked Questions


When should I mulch my roses for the winter?

Because winter mulch prevents plant rootballs from heaving out of the ground during periods of freeze and thaw, it doesn’t have to be applied until the ground actually freezes. Recycled evergreen boughs from Christmas garlands make a loose, lightweight mulch. Straw and shredded bark are other organic mulch materials that will eventually break down in 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.

Where can I plant roses?

Roses need 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day and space to grow. 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 either in the fall, or in the early spring — when the roses are dormant and the ground is workable.

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.

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.

Where are roses commonly grown?

Most roses sold in the United States are grown in California. Jackson & Perkins grows its roses in fields near Bakersfield.

Should I use Chicken Soup for Roses or root stimulator for the first season of growth?

You can safely use either Chicken Soup for Roses ( Milorganite, bone meal, cottonseed meal & alfalfa meal) or root stimulator on roses. We feel Chicken Soup for Roses would be superior though, because it would organically feed roses with more elements required for growth and blooming. It will keep your roses healthy and beautiful.


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.