November, Winterizing Time
When we joined the rose society in 1983, Herm Kladder was one of the most respected rosarians of our rose society. He had a large beautiful rose garden on Burton S.W. that was often the address for rose garden tours, and the subject of seasonal rose articles in local newspapers.
In one of those early rose society meetings, Herm Kladder explained his winterizing methods. Herm winterized his roses with soil mounds enclosed by cardboard collars. These were similar to the plastic collars currently used by John Kelbel, except that they were of cardboard, and were filled with soil instead of mulch materials.
Herm would place the collars around his plants, and then he would wait until the surface of his garden soil was hardened by frost before filling them with soil. He believed that the dormancy of rose canes was benefited by exposure to frost. It all sounded good and logical at the meeting, but not so inviting when I tried to apply the rose cones and soil mounds in late November, with freezing fingers and toes.
I was interested to notice that later, when he was in his late 70’s or early 80’s, Herm would apply his winter cover earlier in November while the weather was more favorable. When I asked about this deviation from his former “later covering practice“, he admitted that the earlier mounding was easier on the rosarian.
When I was still teaching school, I used my Thanksgiving break to winterize our roses. This was convenient since, except for Saturdays, their were few daylight hours to do the outdoor work. Sometimes it was cold and frosty, but usually it worked out well. Now that I am retired, I do more of the winterizing earlier in November, when the weather is more favorable. Rosarians who go south for the winter need to winterize earlier. Early winterizing may not be the best practice, but it is much better than no winterizing.
Some people want to cut down their roses as early as late September, but I don’t favor that practice. Roses need October sun to store food for the winter. Cutting down roses early, while we can still experience good growing temperatures, may cause the rose bush to produce new shoots that will never survive the winter. This wasts good buds and plant energy that could better be saved until next spring.
We use both combined mulch and soil mounds and Styrofoam cones for winter cover. I don’t favor one over the other. The main thing is to cover the crown or bud-union from desiccation (death by freeze-drying). If you use cones, the tops should be well ventilated with extra holes near the top of the cone. Old Styrofoam cones become brittle. You can extend the life of many cones if you keep a calking gun with silicone adhesive handy to repair broken cones. Cones also need to be stabilized by placing bricks or rocks on the top of the cone. We use one brick and one name stake, inserted through the “ear” of the cone. Milk jug covers are useful for protecting smaller miniature bushes or newer cutting. Most of our miniatures receive no protection.
Suckers, Or No Suckers
Those of us who grow grafted roses, often from California, are familiar with suckers. New shoots on roses that originate from below the graft, are called suckers. When you see lanky growth, usually with finer textured leaves, and no bloom buds in its first year, you are probably looking at a sucker. Suckers are destructive to the original grafted plant because it originates from below the graft, and thus gets the first chance at the water and stored food from the roots.
If the sucker originates from the root at a point just below the surface, you may be able to remove it by notching out the cutting where it begins at the root. Unfortunately, the sucker may originate much lower on the root than the surface, and it may be impractical to try cut it out. I usually dig down 4 to 6 inches, and get a pair of sturdy gloves, and work the sucker back and forth while pulling upward on the sucker. Eventually the back and forth action will weaken the attachment of the base of the sucker, and it will pull out.
At a recent meeting John Kelbel noted that he has purchased quite a few roses from the Wisconsin Roses nursery, and he had never seen a sucker on those roses. Wisconsin Roses grafts on multi-flora root stock, and that is probably the reason. When you graft on multi-flora seedlings, you do not graft on the multiform stem, but on the upper portion of the root, just below the crown of the plant. Grafting is done in late summer, and bud growth usually begins in the spring. When the bud breaks, the propagator cuts off the entire top of the multiflora plant, just below the crown, and above the growing bud. There is little opportunity for suckers to develop if the entire top of the rootstock is cut off, Buds grow on stems, and when there is no more rootstock stem, there are no suckers.
` Western roses usually are grafted onto Dr. Huey rootstock, an old garden climber. . The Dr. Huey canes are harvested in the fall, refrigerated during the winter, rooted, and transplanted into the field. In early summer buds are harvested from bud stock roses and grafted on the short pieces of rooted Dr. Huey canes. In the process of preparing the canes for grafting, the propagators disbud the canes of their Dr. Huey rootstocks, at least they try to. Unfortunately, some buds are missed, and they produce the suckers.
In the past, the western rose industry was plagued by infections of mosaic virus, a disease that discolors and disfigures rose leaves. A small but significant number of western grown roses suffered from that disease. The disease was passed to the grafted plant by either diseased buds, or from diseased rootstock. The disease does not pass from diseased parent plants to their seed. Seedling multiflora are virus free. That may be one of the reasons that multiflora seedlings became so popular as a rootstock.
Gardeners can increase the number of rose plants in their garden by grafting, or by rooting cuttings. Usually mid to late September pretty much ends the grafting season, especially if
it is bud grafting. When the plants begin to prepare for winter by reducing the moisture in their stems, slip-budding comes to a halt. .Propagation from cuttings works very well in the fall, almost until winter sets in.
Both leaves and roots grow from the stem nodes, so ideally a cutting should have at least 2 nodes, the bottom node for roots, and the top nodes for leaves. The bottom nodes, usually without leaves, are inserted into the garden soil. Actually, it is possible to start a plant from a cutting with only one node.. In that case, insert the node with leaves still attached, into the garden soil. The leaves at the node should extend above the soil surface. Water in the cutting well, and cover the cutting with a milk jug cover, or a glass jar. I use a gallon milk jug with the bottom cut out, and anchor it in place with a wooden stick. Some people start cuttings in a vacant spot in their rose garden, but I usually start them in flower pots. That way I can move them around and can plant them in the garden later, after they have grown. some. Some people use a rooting compound to start cuttings, but I usually do not. B.B.
Reclaiming Donated Trophies
Last month I wrote an article about our trophy disposal plans, and invited people who had donated trophies, or whose families had donated trophies, to request that the trophies be returned to them, if that is what they want . So far I have not had any requests for trophy returns. I don’t believe the Board will meet before early next year to vote on the final disposal of trophies, but when it happens they may be disposed of without much delay.
John Ball Winterizing
When I arrived at the John Ball Rose Garden, at about 9 AM on the 27 of October, I was greeted by Horticulturist Tim Rausch and 3 members of his work crew. They had a truck load of fine mulch ready to apply. Since Gord and Alice Otter had come on Friday and had pruned a sizeable portion of the garden, the crew began the application of of the wood mulch almost immediately. Since there was still quite a bit of pruning to do, I worked most of the next 2 hours completing the pruning. At about 10:30 Tim and 2 members of his crew, went off to other park chores, while one man stayed with me to complete the pruning, and to apply the last of the mulch. Tim provided the usual coffee, cider and donuts. When I wanted to leave at about 11 AM, I had to wait about 15 minutes, while my precious antique shovel was retrieved. The crew had mistaken it for a John Ball shovel.
At our October membership meeting, the following were nominated. Joan Stoffer, President, Bill Blok, Vice President, John Kelbel, Treasurer, Janice Powell, Secretary, and Judy Stoffer, Board Member. The November meeting is the time designated for the election. Since all are unopposed, it will be by acclamation. Gord Otter and Rose Enders will continue to serve their 3-year terms.
If you know of a member who is sick or bereaved, please call Irma Blok at 538-6880.
The November-December Issue
As is our custom, the last issue of our Rosarian Newsletter is a combined Nov.- Dec. issue. Our December meeting is a luncheon scheduled for 1 PM on December 15, at the Grandvilla Restaurant. Last year was our first Year End Luncheon there in quite a few years. Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the food and service there last year. We hope to see most of you there. Bill & Irma.
The Grand Valley Rosarian Newsletter, Bill & Irma Blok, Editors,
November, Winterizing Time