Valentine’s Day Gardening

'Clotilde Soupert' rose with blousy blooms smells sweet.

‘Clotilde Soupert’ rose with blousy blooms smells sweet.

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and folks are reminded of the special people in our lives. It should also remind us of a couple of items in our landscape and lawns that may need special attention. Here in Northeast Texas, Valentine’s Day coincides with the ideal time to prune back rose bushes so they will be ready to burst forth with strong growth as the temperatures warm. This is also the time of year to consider whether or not the lawn needs an application of a weed preventer. Here’s a quick look at these two Valentine’s Day gardening tasks.

All kinds of roses can benefit from an annual cutting back to renew strong, vigorous growth, which results in more abundant blossoms, since the majority of roses bloom on new growth. Pruning also keeps your bushes more compact and easier to care for in the home garden. Pruning helps reduce disease problems by improving air circulation and removing dead and diseased tissue.

Of course, if you do not have any roses, you can promise your loved one to plant a rose garden, or even just a specimen rose, as a sign of your affection. Then you’ll have roses to give throughout the year!

All pruning cuts should be made with sharpened pruners. Dull pruners of any type make pruning difficult and also crush the cane as it is cut. Heavy work gloves and long sleeves are also recommended to avoid getting stuck.

Before starting to prune, examine the plant and imagine what you want the plant to look like. As you begin to prune, first remove all dead, diseased or sickly wood. Sickly canes tend to have a yellowish-green or brownish-green color and may be shriveled. If you find two canes that are crossing and rubbing against each other, remove one of them.

Properly pruned hybrid tea rose in the Tyler Rose Garden

Properly pruned hybrid tea rose in the Tyler Rose Garden

The height to which roses are pruned is a personal choice. Some rosarians prefer to leave as much healthy wood as possible, but most will cut their hybrid tea bushes back to 18 to 30 inches, or prune back one-third of their length each year. Miniature roses should be pruned back to about 12 inches.

Old garden or antique roses may need to be pruned a little differently, depending on the type and use in the garden. A few antique and species roses are like some climbers – once bloomers – and should only be pruned after their glorious spring display.

Modern shrub roses can also be cut back if needed to help keep them compact and dense.

The best way to learn how to prune roses is to first watch someone else. And Mark Chamblee, owner of Chamblee’s Rose Nursery, will be demonstrating how to prune at the first of seven East Texas Garden Lecture Series events on February 22, at his nursery on Hwy 69 North between North Loop 323 and IH 20. He will also discuss how to successfully grow roses using Earth-Kind techniques, including preparing the soil, watering, fertilizing and caring for your roses.

Chamblee is especially excited about and will discuss the newest roses coming out of breeding programs including the German–bred Kordes roses, with high levels of disease resistance that fit well into any type of landscape. This morning program, which begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. and starts at 9:00, will end with a tour of his nursery, and an opportunity to ask your rose questions.

Cost of the program is $15.00. However, for $45.00, you can attend all seven of the monthly lectures. The other lectures include: March 22 – “Right Plant / Right Place” and “Ask the Designer”; April 12 – “A Warm Welcome – Landscape Tips for Curb Appeal”; May 17 – “Saving Water with a Drip (Drip Irrigation Basics & Applications)”; September 13 – “Enjoy Your Home Landscape – Make Your Yard Fit Your Life”; October 25 – “Forgotten and Under-utilized Plants for East Texas”; and November 15 – “Japanese Maples & other Adapted Trees for Every Landscape”.

A flyer with more details on each lecture is online at web site – look under Programs

Weed Control. As the ground warms at this time of year, warm-season weeds will begin to germinate. So this is the time of year to consider whether or not to apply a pre-emergent herbicide (otherwise called a weed preventer). Be aware that these products will not control perennial weeds that come back from dormant roots, but only germinating seeds. Also be aware that many of the products used for this purpose are absorbed through the shoots and roots. That means they will also slow down the rooting of the desired turfgrass that are treated.

So, if the your lawn is thin due to problems last year, then while these products will prevent germination of the small seeded annuals, they will also slow the growth of the turf this spring, putting under further stress. If your turf is otherwise healthy and dense, then you may not even need a weed preventer, as a thick turfgrass will suppress a lot of weed development.

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