Inland Northwest, High Desert

March, 2004
Regional Report

Don't Prune Your Roses Till the Daffodils Bloom

The weather is just warm enough to fool the gardener, as well as the garden. If you prune now, the cuts will encourage the roses to send out new growth. Prune now, and sure as shootin', we'll get a freeze. Then the tender, cut canes will die back into tissue they can't afford to lose. By the time the daffodils bloom, we can be reasonably sure the killing frosts are (mostly) behind us.

Sow Now

Mother's Day is our benchmark date for putting tender plants out in the garden without danger of frostbite. Sow your seeds now so they will be ready. Take up every windowsill with marigolds and lettuce and herbs.

Provide a Warm Spot for Germination

For those seeds that are slow to sprout, try putting them under a waterbed for a day. The heat is just right for sprouting seeds in a hurry. No waterbed? Try setting them atop a television. Everyone always says to put the seeds on top of the refrigerator for warmth, but my television is much warmer than the top of my refrigerator.

Beware Bargain Roses

It seems like $2.99 is a bargain, but you get what you pay for. Never buy a rose graded less than a #1. A No. 1-1/2 is not a good rose, and a No. 2 rose is simply awful. The poor things usually have fewer canes than they ought to, and those are spindly and coated in wax.
The roses sit in the sun and the wax melts ... into the cane tissue. Not good. And if that's not bad enough, the roots parboil in those plastic bags. When all is said and done, $2.99 is not a bargain. Run, don't walk, to your nearby nursery or garden center and get yourself a good rose. And yes, you can plant them now.

Plant Bare-Root Roses, Shrubs, and Trees

As soon as your ground is dry enough to be workable, get out and get your fingernails dirty. With roses, remember to cover the canes up to about 6 inches deep in mulch to keep them from drying out before they get around to sprouting.

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