Roses don’t really go dormant in the Santa Clarita Valley, although they may slow down a bit during the cold winter months of December and January.
That’s the opportune time to rejuvenate the garden and get your plants ready for the spring blooming cycle. January is the perfect time to take advantage of sunny winter days to clean up debris from the fall winds, as well as to dig up and remove dead plants, whether they are roses, annual flowers, or the old veggie garden.
Local nurseries should have packaged bareroot roses in their stores by early January. Get there soon to have the best selections. Make sure to select bareroot roses that have at least three 1/2-inch green canes that have not yet begun to produce foliage. Brown or dry canes are unacceptable — don’t buy them.
Remove the fresh bareroot roses from the package, and discard the bag and sawdust in which the rose is packed. Packing material has no nutritional value to the rose, and may indeed cause a vitamin deficiency (chlorosis) if you use it as mulch. Soak your new bareroot roses in a bucket of water for at least one day to rehydrate them, but it will not hurt to soak them for several days or up to a week before you plant them in the ground. Plant new roses in a hole that the roots can easily fit into, and fill the hole with a good planter mix.
Be sure to water the rose right after planting, and daily for several days, then weekly thereafter, until the roots can begin to grow. Wait until late February to fertilize.
Late December through mid-January is a great time to prune your existing rose bushes. If bad weather prevents pruning at that time, just wait a week or so to do your pruning when the weather is more comfortable for you.
Pruning consists of trimming the rose bush to about half its size, removing dead canes, and removing all foliage so that your bush can be rejuvenated and produce new growth.
Our master rosarians will be at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist customers with bareroot rose selections and answer rose-care questions.
The Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society Annual Rose Care Seminar is also coming up at the Senior Center in Newhall on Sunday, Jan. 13, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. As master rosarians, Bob Belendez and I will discuss and demonstrate pruning, planting and fertilizing. The public is welcome to attend free of charge.