There’s no denying it, the cold wind is blowing and dormancy is creeping into perennial and woody plants. Somehow the roses continue to defy the season, with September’s flush of buds and flowers still hanging on. Should I leave blossoms and buds on the plants, so that a frost will tell these plants to shut down, or should I take the opportunity to cut what’s left for a vase? Usually I do a bit of both. My favourite climber, ‘Clair Matin’, has a ginkgo tree for support, and they’ve been great pals for several years. I’ve taken some of the last shell-pink blossoms indoors, along with a sprig of still-green ginkgo foliage. They won’t last long in a heated house, but I couldn’t resist.
Now is not the time to prune roses, although shortening overly long canes that might whip around in winter wind is a good idea. However, autumn is a good time to move a rose bush, should you be so inclined. The first weeks of November are best, after foliage has dropped and several nights of hard frost have brought it into partial dormancy. (Full dormancy won’t occur until mid to late December.) No one likes the idea of moving a rose, fearing the upheaval will do irreparable damage. But in its docile, partially dormant state, a gentle move to a new and better location won’t phase it at all.
Gently dig the rose shrub out, using a spade to loosen the root ball in a circle around the plant. Lift the root ball and put it into a wheelbarrow or on a tarp for transport to the new hole. Soil from the new hole should be amended with organic materials like leaves, composted manure and garden compost. Fertilizers aren’t necessary at this time, but if you have them on hand, you can incorporate bloodmeal, bonemeal or alfalfa pellets into the soil. Don’t worry if the root ball shatters and the roots are exposed, they’re inured to brief exposure at this time. Just quickly cover them with plastic for the journey to the new location.
Plant the rose shrub in its new hole, with the bulbous graft two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) below soil level. Backfill halfway with the amended soil, and fill the hole with water. After it drains, fill the hole with the remaining soil, and hill up around the rose crown with 12 inches (30 cm) of fresh soil, and add a thick layer of leaf mulch. I use a generous 12 inches (30 cm) of leaves piled over the hilled soil. Now, wasn’t that easy?
Other posts by Judith this week:
Posts by Judith last week: