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The Utah Rose Gardening Calendar

A month by month guide to the critical jobs
for making your rose garden the best that it can be.

JANUARY: The holidays are finally over and it is time to turn our minds to dreams of Spring in the garden. CATALOGS are still coming in, and rose dreams are at their peak. Get your order in early to purchase those new and unusual roses, because many of the mail order companies have limited quantities of each variety, and there will be an especially big run on the new varieties.

Plan to read a few good books on roses, check out your local library and purchase your favorites in bookstores or over the internet. This is a great time to plan which roses you are moving, giving away or 'shovel pruning' in order to make room for the new varieties you will be buying soon.

If it is a dry winter, be sure to water your roses if the soil becomes dry. Water at least once a month if it does not snow or rain and it is above freezing temperatures during the days.

FEBRUARY: If the weather warms a bit, this is the time to start the new season big PRUNING. Although you can PRUNE ANY TIME AFTER THEY GO DORMANT (Usally around mid December in Utah), Getting a jump on this will make your spring gardening so much better. It is a drag to get behind on pruning when there is so much other stuff to be done.

This is also another catalogue looking month, but sometimes we have a break in the weather the latter part of the month and if the ground thaws, and is not too soggy and muddy and you are smart, this is be best time to TRANSPLANT your rose bushes that you want to move. Moving roses when they are dormant assures a complete growing season with no setback of vigor. The earlier they get into the ground the better in general.

For your established varieties, if there is snow on the ground, it may be heaped up on the more tender rose bushes bases as it is nature’s best freeze protecting mulch. It also gives some of the needed water. Don't forget to water if there is and extended dry period of many weeks with no snow or rain.

If there is a late February warm snap, this is a great time to clean up leaves, weeds and dead plant material that you missed in the fall. Throw all of this dead refuse material in your COMPOST PILE. If you don't have one, make one. This is also a good time to walk around your garden with a pencil and paper and LIST THE MAJOR TASKS that you want to accomplish this season. The garden is much more bare at this time of year and you can see the structure of things better. This is also the time to plan where your new roses will actually go, and which ones have to be moved.

Garden tools should be SHARPENED and oiled, handles sanded and generally made ready. Be sure your secateurs (garden clippers) are in good sharpened condition. Change the blades if they are old and worn. We recoomend FELCO secateurs. Felco is the best brand and the standard of gardening professionals. It pays to buy the best here if you can afford them: Felco #8 for large hands, Felco #6 for small hands and Felco #9 for left handed people.

MARCH: This is called the "windy month", but the end part of march is usually our best planting time for dormant bushes. Keep an eye out for frosts though, and protect as needed.

This is usually the best month to do the bulk of the big spring pruning or your roses. You want them to be fully pruned BEFORE THEY START TO LEAF OUT. Pruning ideally is completely finished by April First in Utah. NOTE: DO NOT PRUNE YOUR ONCE BLOOMING ROSES NOW! Prune those in July after they have bloomed.

HOW TO PRUNE: Before you start cutting, take a good look at the overall bush, and make a plan in your head. First cut out any deadwood, any canes crossing and sawing against others, and much of the tiny or spindly growth smaller than the diameter of a thin soda straw (Unless the rose bush is small, Then leave all of these on).

Make your cuts about 1/8 to ¼" above the bud or bud eye, remembering the can will grow in the direction the eye is pointing. This makes your rose grow in a sort of a 'vase' shape. Don't forget though, you can train a rose in the way you want it to grow using this simple knowledge. You don't have to cut at a 45 degree angle, that is a myth.

The basic general idea here is to prune to open up the center of the bush, this leads to better air circulation and more light getting to the leaves. Leave at LEAST 3-5 major canes (More if your bush is large), favoring the new greener 'basal growth' over the really old brown, ugly cracked diseases and weathered canes.

Prune high or low, to make the bush do what you want. If you want a full sized bush prune about 30 to 36 inches tall. If you want a shorter bush prune 24 inches tall. Remember, you are the boss and there are a lot of choices depending on how big you want the plant to get and where it is growing in your garden. Don't just remove a cane because it is old. Old canes can still be healthy.

Prune the canes lower to 10"-12" ONLY if you want just a few large blooms on each plant(Rose Show Exhibition Type Blooms). For more but smaller blooms, prune the canes 24" to 36" in height, depending on your taste. Climbers should be pruned much much higher pruning to the height you want the rose to be minus 2 feet. Remove only the side shoots of the main branches that are going to get into your way or interfere with each other. Formal highly pruned climbers can be pruned down to about 4 or 5 bud eyes from the main cane on each side shoot. Main climber branches should be trained horizontally as much as possible. This enables the side shoots to grow upward producing more blooms.

PLANTING NEW ROSES: Toward the very end of the month you can also PLANT YOUR NEWLY ARRIVED BAREROOT VARIETIES in 3 gallon pots with potting soil and keep them in a protected place, but still getting direct sun. Realize that if there are frosts below 30 degrees or so, you MUST cover and protect these potted bare root roses. The great thing about starting your bareroots in pots is that they are much more likely to start easily, and you can move them around if there is bad weather. Don't forget to water them!!! Plant them in the ground after their first bloom cycle is completed. There is no real hurry to put them in the ground, it can be done anytime during the season. Many people who grow lots of new roses every year use this as a standard practice. We don't recomment putting bare roots directly into the ground in Utah unless you are an expert gardener.

MOVING OLD ROSE BUSHES: Early March is the perfect time for moving dormant garden roses around. As soon as the ground can be worked is the time to do this. When they are still dormant, they will suffer little or no damage from being moved. Remember that a full sized rose when moved will need to be fully pruned down in order to do well, with less root material than it is used to, it cannot support a full set of canes and leaves.

APRIL: Ideally pruning should be done about now. if your roses have leafed out more than about an inch, you could have done better. The old saw of 'look for the forsythia blooming in your neighborhood' is totally false and a myth. The thing to really look for is to prune before the leaf buds on your plant have swollen and erupted, but are not longer than 1 inch or so. If you wait too long to prune after this, you will really be pruning off a lot of new growth, which will set the vitality of your plant back to the degree the new growth gets removed.

FERTILIZING: Apply first fertilizer once the leaves have started to grow. Water your roses well before fertilizing if the soil is dry. Now is the time to put on alfalfa meal (which contains root growth hormones) one or two cups per plant, and Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulphate) 1/4 to 1/2 cup per plant. Epsom salts promote the eruption of new basal canes, which is a good thing.

Any granular fertilizer can now be applied with about a handful or so sprinkled on the surface around the plant in about an 18 inch diameter circle. The NPK ratio should ideally be about 1:2:1, but 1:1:1 will work fine. LAWN FERTILIZER WILL NOT WORK. Those have a ratio of about 20:0:0 (very little phosphorous or potassium).

Once the leaves have fully developed, you can start with liquid 'foliar fertilizers' if you are so inclined. For those who want monumental blooms and plants, you can do this about every 2-3 weeks until July 1st or so when the extremely hot weather kicks in and the roses go slightly dormant.

MAY:This is the extreme growth period of the year for your roses. By the end of the month buds and even some blooms should be appearing in great quantity. Aphids will also be attacking in quantity. Wash them off with water spray, or apply insecticides if you so desire. Thosewho have good organic gardening practices will have little to worry about after the first week or so, because the beneficial insects will start eating the aphids quickly.

TIME TO BUY: Early May is the perfect time to purchase and plant roses in containers from the nurseries. Good dormant bare root stock may still be planted at the first of the month, but don't wait! Any leaves on a bareroot rose that are there before planting will probably be lost. It is a good eneralrule that most rose planting should be over by May 15th or so in preparation for the first bloom flush, but potted roses from the nurseries can be planted any time of the season, even into the late fall.

Fertilize newly planted container roses with a liquid fertilizer for the first season. An extra dose of fertilizer between the at about mid month won't hurt your established varieties. Don't forget this is the time of growing frenzy for your established bushes.

You might want to take a quick look and prune a second time to eliminate unhealthy diseased looking canes you missed in March.

BAD INSECTS: If you want to control insects, we reccommend you use the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to control severe infestations of pests and diseases. This method suggests the least toxic methods to control your pests. Give water as needed.

ROSE EXHIBITORS: If you are going to exhibit you roses, shows will soon be upcoming, so be sure to disbud early on hybrid teas, and perhaps the grandifloras, to be shown as single specimens. Around May 1st is time to think about timing the blooms on your favorite bushes for the rose show.

JUNE: The Big payoff, the great bloom feast! This is also the 'Rose Show' month, and roses will be out in all their glory, in rose shows, in public and private gardens, and on the street edges as you drive by. In a typical Utah climate year, the big 'Spring Flush' as it is called should be from the first to the middle of the month.

When the bloom is on, fertilizer should be put on for the SECOND (or if you are really antsy) the THIRD time. (The first fertilizer was applied in April right after the plants started to leaf out). Roses cannot take up materials until the pumping power is there in the leaves, so don't ever forget about deep watering. The hot days are beginning and evaporation is starting to get high.

TIME TO START DEADHEADING: 'Deadheading', the removal of dead blooms begins in earnest. Right after the big first flush. If you don't do this, your roses will form 'hips' (seed pods) and stop producing new growth as much.

'Cut back to the first five leave cluster is a MYTH! Deadhead by breaking off the old bloom at the top stem. You can do this with your fingers or with secateurs. The less you cut off the more blooms you will get. You may cut back further for the specific varieties that produce 'Long Stemmed' roses OR if you want to control the size of your bush. Some varieties might even need to be deadheaded back by about 12 to 18 inches. because certain varieties will get to tall for you to see the blooms well. Remember that deadheading is a matter of taste, you are trying to keep the bush blooming, but you are also trying to keep it at the ideal size for your garden taste.

ROSES FROM CUTTINGS: Wait till after the first flush is over. For those of you who want to propagate roses with cuttings, late June is the time to make the best cuttings. Break off a small pencil sized side cane making sure to take the heel wood where it joined the other canes. Cut off the spent bloom and save 2-3 leaf clusters on a cutting about 6-8 inches long.

HYBRIDIZERS: For those with the hybridizing jones, this is the month to make your crosses. Pollen needs to be collected just after the bloom first opens. And the pollenization needs to happen on the female flower parts BEFORE the rose opens. Take off the petals and the anthers manually to expose the pistil, then paint it with a small artists brush dipped in the pollen you want. Label immediately. These future rose hips need to be marked so they are not deadheaded off later in the season. Rose hips need most of the summer in order to mature fully, so crosses should be made by Mid July at the latest.

PARTY IN THE ROSE GARDEN! This is the perfect occassion tonvite your friends and neighbors to a garden party in your garden during the peak bloom. Now is the time to show off!

JULY: WATER THEM! This is the start of the continuous hot blast furnace weather so water is EXTREMELY important. Continue with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices and spray for insects or diseases if necessary. Make sure to keep taking off the dead blooms. Apply next major fertilizing around the 15th. Every 6 weeks is a good rule. (Two to four weeks if you are completely obsessed, depending on the variety and it's needs.)

PRUNE YOUR ONCE BLOOMING ROSES NOW If you prune in the spring you will have few to no blooms, because you will have pruned off much of the wood that contains this years blooms. Most once blooming roses bloom only from grown on branches that are from last season. After the bloom is over is the perfect time to prune, because the rose will have the entire rest of the season to form the canes that will have next years flowers.

INSECTS: Thrips and Spider Mites are the biggest insect problems in July and August, so you might have to deal with them. Don't forget to keep the weeds down, as weeds love the month of July. Oh, and apply mulch to the bottoms of the rose if desired. Mulch is the best way to prevent weeds around your roses. It also allows the soil to retain moisture. Thrips will mostly be only in the white and light pink colored roses, because the dark colored ones get too hot for them in the summer.

DEADHEADING: Continue to deadhead your roses whenever you are in the garden. Just break off the hips or the old blooms with your fingers as you walk by. Get in the habit of this.

DID WE SAY WATER? Yes we did. This is the most important thing to do for your plants in July.

TIME TO ENJOY YOUR GARDEN Grab a glass of lemonade, a comfortable chair, and find a shady spot from which to admire your roses and the bees and butterflies in the garden. Don't forget this critical step, it is part of the big payoff!

AUGUST: The Heat Blast Furnace continues. More heat, so a good mulch around the roses will save on the ever increasing water bill and help keep the roots cool.

FINAL FERTILIZATION:Apply the last application of fertilizer around August 15 to the 31st. Mildew will probably start to be a problem this month, so have your plans formulated to deal with it if it gets severe. If it is just mild, don't worry about it.

These are the last of the 'Halcyon Days' Enjoy them while they are here, because usually around September 1st is the first tinge of fall. It might not seem like much at first, but the days will start to be noticeably shorter and the sun will start to get lower in the sky soon.

TIME TO ENJOY YOUR GARDEN Grab a glass of lemonade, a comfortable chair, and find a shady spot from which to admire your roses and the bees and butterflies in the garden. Yes, We said it again!


THE FALL FLUSH! The last part of September and the first of October is what is sometimes referred to as the 'Fall Flush' This is normally the second best rose time of year, due to the cooler weather. The Blast Furnace is gone. The blooms last far longer on the bush, so there will be far more blooms going at the same time.

No more fertilizer on the roses is needed, but water is still important.

END OF MONTH, END OF DEADHEADING: After September 30th, stop deadheading. Leave the last bloom on the bushes, as this helps them to harden off for the winter. Usually there is a bloom in October, and if so, leave on the rose hips. An application of Treble Superphosphate will help get the roses into cold weather.

ATTACK THE BIG WEEDS! Make sure to get Rid of the weeds in the garden so they don't go to seed. I weed can produce up to 100,000 seeds!

ORDER YOUR ROSE CATALOGUES The first of the next season rose catalogues come out about now. Our climate pushes the limit at which you can do fall rose planting, so your best bet is to order for next season. USDA Zone 7B is about the lowest climate zone in which people can safely plant bare root roses in the fall. Some people buy fall bareroot plants and then bury them completely for the winter, digging them up the following March.

OCTOBER: MORE FALL FLUSH! Early October is continuation of the 'Fall Flush', which is the second biggest production of roses in the garden. A great time to take pictures of your roses because they don't get 'crispy' edges and last longer. This tail end of this month used to mark the end of blooming for your roses, but the 'killing frost' which used to happen between the 20th and the 31st of October,now happens as late as November 20th or so. That said, it is good to be aware that the roses can end shortly, so enjoy them while you can.

CLEANING UP: Keep the leaves picked up and thrown onto the compost pile and remove whatever other dead refuse is in the garden after the killing frost hits. You want to keep on top of this through November, because after the snows hit, you're done until March.

PREPARE YOUR BEDS: You can now do a bit to get new beds ready for the spring arrival of new roses. Soil does better when you apply compost and manure in the fall to new beds and give it a winter to work its way towards great soil. Just apply on the top of the soil around the base of the rose.

If really cold weather comes and the ground is frozen over, hill up the bushes. You may use leaves (oak are best), compost, straw, or soil pep. Soil may be used but it must be brought in from another area of the garden. This will help keep the bushes cold. Warning do not do this too early, the ground must be frozen. If we have an Indian Summer make sure to keep your roses watered to avoid damage that may not show up until next year.

NOVEMBER: Rose beds will be frozen by the end of this month, if not hilled up in October, you may do so now. If you bought bare root roses in the fall, dig a foot deep trench and cover them up. Don't forget to mark your spot so you can locate them easilyin the spring. Move potted roses close to the house, right up next to it if possible. The house gives off heat in the winter. The closer to the house and each other and the more protected from wind the better.

Extra long canes that will be removed anyway can be shortened at this time to prevent damage to the rose bush by whipping in the winter winds, or breaking off with heavy winter snows. If you have heavy winter snowfall in your neighborhood, bush canes may be wrapped together and tied with twine to prevent breakage. Heavy wet snows on large unprotected bushes can be devastating to their health. Split and damaged canes are an invitation to disease and insects.

WRAP UP THE GARDEN It is now time to put the garden to bed. Hill up your compost pile to a depth of 3 to 4 feet tall (the taller the pile, the more likely it will be to retain heat and continue composting during the winter). Drain hoses and move them indoors. Move your garden tools indoors to prevent excess weathering. Remove any sprinkler heads that are above ground, and turn off the outside sprinkler water supply. Stack the outdoor furniture and move them to a protected area where they are less exposed to wind and snow.

DECEMBER: NO GARDENING NEEDED: It is time to move indoors now. Give rose bush gift certificates for Christmas. A sure winner for any rose lover. Any old winter evening is a good time to take your garden tools in hand, clean them, oil them, and sharpen them, so they will be ready when there is spring work to do. No hurry though. Just relax. Work will come later! One exception: If there is no snow or rain for a month, don't forget to water your roses. Dry can kill.

IF YOU LOVE BIRDS: It is time to put out the bird feeders, and keep them frequently replenished till about the end of March. Having birds regularly visit your garden all year long will help greatly with insect control. Besides, it's fun and will get you outside every once in a while.

DON'T FORGET that the weather may change ANY calendar. In this mountainous country, Nature is a changeable lady, so pay attention and work accordingly.

Utah Rose Society Salt Lake City, UT

Calendar Revised by Bob Bauer, August 2013

Got Any Questions about how to join or about the Utah Rose Society in general?

Just go ahead and call Elise Hutchings at: 801-484-1156 or
send an e-mail to:Elise Hutchings

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