December rose care FUNdamentals

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

As welcoming to all gardeners as the recent rains were and as much as it would be great to think it was a sign of future rains and an end to the extended drought, gardeners can only wait for more substantial rains to arrive. The total inches of rain were not enough to sustain gardens for long. The accompanying cool weather will help to hydrate the thirsty soil. Roses could still be seen actively growing and blooming in many area gardens during the Thanksgiving holiday.

However, believe it or not, roses need a four- to six-week rest or dormancy period during the winter months. During dormancy, the plants go through natural hormonal changes that prepare them for the next growing season. Dormancy is triggered by a variety of factors. Cold temperatures, including frost, slow the plant’s metabolism which helps bring on dormancy. It helps roses to not deadhead or prune them this month. Allow the rose hips to mature so they can send signals to the plant that it’s time to rest and marshal its energy for a vigorous growth spurt in the spring. Just the same, be sure to monitor plants when daytime temperatures are warm. They still need to be kept hydrated. Also, do not fertilize until after major pruning in January or February, and only after a couple inches of new growth.

On the topic of pruning, some gardeners in the Temecula Valley are anxious to prune their roses in December. That’s understandable because there hasn’t been a hard frost yet, even though the average date for first frost in this area is Nov. 17. Unfortunately, pruning in December not only prevents dormancy, but it also produces tender new shoots that will most likely be killed by the next hard frost. So, the bottom line is gardeners must wait four to six weeks after the first frost to do any major spring pruning. Watch the Temecula Valley Rose Society website or local newspapers for the dates for free spring pruning workshops. Plan to attend the pruning demonstration by Virginia Boos, currently scheduled for Jan. 14 at Rose Haven Heritage Garden in Temecula.

There isn’t any new information regarding the “chili thrip” Scientists are still working on a treatment that will help control this pest. The Asian “chili thrip” is spreading rapidly in the Southwest and is becoming a global threat. This pest is extremely successful and particularly resistant to conventional control methods. Watch this column for more information as it is known.

It is not too late to order new roses. Garden stores may still be adding to their list of orders or visit a favorite online nursery to order new roses for the garden. There are many fine new roses that are simply must haves. Many are more disease resistant than in the past.

For more ideas, visit TVRS’ Rose Haven garden at 30592 Jedediah Smith Road in Temecula or visit TemeculaValleyRoseSociety.org/index.shtml. Spread the joy of roses.

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