Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snow, Glorious Snow!

The very best winter protection for our roses is a foot of snow and that's exactly what we got today, Sunday, December 9th.  Not only does it provide better insulation than you can get from any other kind of winter protection, but it also gives you lovely, trickling moisture in the spring, when it melts.  One of our Twin Cities Rose Club members, Tim Schmaltz, once said, jokingly, that the TCRC ought to invest in a snow-making machine, to be hauled around to members' gardens, in winters when we don't get enough snow before our coldest weather in January.  More truth than joking in that idea!  One of the things I do to supplement the snow cover on my beds is to run my snow blower along the edges and throw snow up on the beds from the lawn.  This works particularly well in years when we don't get much snow, like last winter.

So, to paraphrase Dickens' "Oliver Twist":  "Snow, Glorious Snow"!

Here are a few pictures of my rose beds taken early this afternoon.  Note that my leaf cylinders and bags are thoroughly supplemented with a beautiful white layer of insulation.

Here is my Buck Earth Song bed, with my koi pond and Morden Centennial bed in the background.  I have posted this same view in the summer-time several times.


Below are two tiered beds with a variety of Buck roses and Hardy Canadiens, such as Winnipeg Parks (left) and Morden Blush (right)


Below is the Earth Song bed looking in the other direction, i.e. up toward the deck where the first picture was taken.


A little broader panorama of the tiered beds and the back of our house in the snow.



Below: The Buck "Carefree Beauty" and "Earth Song" bed in front of our house.  The pretty tree is a "Thornless Hawthorn".  The fence is there to keep our cat away from any dead voles that have taken the Zinc Phosphide poison positioned around the bed in tin-cans and large black plastic rodent traps.  Now that the snow is on the beds, I won't worry about him getting at the poison itself.  (Note how the camera flash caught the big snow flakes falling).


Below are four Buck "Earth Songs" in a little bed at the edge of our garage.  Again, the fence is for the cat.

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snakes

Well, since there isn't much to talk about around here now that the roses are put to bed for the winter  I thought it might be fun to contemplate something else.  How about snakes in the garden?

The only snakes we see in my part of Minnesota are the ubiquitous Garter Snakes.  I don't like them much and whenever I see one (usually around my koi pond) I reach for "Snake Away", which, incidentally, is a very good product.  I was amused to learn that, while it's 100% effective in deterring garter snakes, it is only about 50% effective in deterring rattle snakes, which caused me to think:  That's sure better than nothing, and what's the alternative?

Anyway, I'm sure the garter snakes are fully hibernated around my garden at the moment.  A friend of mine just e-mailed me the following article which I think is pretty funny.  I hope you laugh out loud (LOL) as I did.


Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis), can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here's why.

A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.

The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That's when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor, who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted; the snake rushed back under the sofa.

The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor's wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband's mouth on the woman's mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man's throat.

By now, the police had arrived.

 
Breathe here...

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake!

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbour and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbours saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that's when he shot her.
cid:2.1560972387@web181505.mail.ne1.yahoo.com 



 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More About Voles and Castor Oil

I just finished putting about 130 gallons of mixed castor oil and water around my roses and elsewhere in the beds, where voles might burrow their way through the wood chips and mulch.  If you missed my blog post about voles and the damage they inflict on roses during the winter, check it out right here: http://theminnesotarosegardener.blogspot.com/2012/10/voles-and-roses.html

As I began mixing the castor oil (which I got at Wal-Mart @ $2.65 for a six ounce bottle), I was frustrated at how it wouldn't mix with the cold rain water from my cistern.  I put one 30 gallon batch around the roses and it was clinging to everything; my gloves, the can I mixed it in, and the sprinkling cans I was using to pour it around the roses.  Then the lights went on.  I had forgotten to put the liquid detergent in the mixing can @one teaspoon per gallon!  As soon as I did that, the castor oil dissolved perfectly and the job became much easier.

So, here again is the formula for putting castor oil around your roses:  Use one or two teaspoons of castor oil and one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent per gallon of water.  Pour (or pump) the mixture around every rose so that it can soak into the dirt or mulch a couple of inches.  I probably put around half a gallon around each rose (or a little more) and then I pour it around between the plants and around the edges of the beds, i.e. anywhere that these little chewing monsters might burrow in the wood chips and mulch.

Castor oil is cheap, so I use more rather then less of it (i.e. two teaspoons per gallon rather than one).  Note: Ten ounces of castor oil gives you approximately two teaspoons per gallon mixed in a 30 gallon trash container.

If you haven't read the article and watched the video from New Hampshire Hostas, about using castor oil to control voles, be sure to take a look at it: http://www.nhhostas.com/organic-vole-control.htm .  The video is a little long-winded but interesting.  The mixture formula is on the website as well.

This is prime time to put down castor oil.  As the ground freezes, the voles start burrowing around the beds to find the tastiest food supply for the winter: your roses!

So, don't make same the mistake I did and forget to put the liquid soap in your castor oil mixture. And good vole hunting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Big Coverup

Well, here in Minnesota and the northern tier of states, it's high time to be in the midst of covering our roses.  Mind you, it's not time to be finished yet, but the process should be ongoing, with an end goal in sight.

As those of you who have read my blog posts for the last few months know, I am not a believer in the "Minnesota Tip".  I tipped my roses for many years but always felt that it was not a horticulturally sound practice to partially uproot my roses and cover them with dirt in mid to late October, when many of them were still in bloom, i.e. not even close to being naturally dormant.  The longer I did it, the more my gardening instincts (not to mention my back) kept telling me I should be doing something different.  See my August blog "No Tipping Please": http://theminnesotarosegardener.blogspot.com/2012/08/no-tipping-please.html  .  As you will see in that article, my thinking has also been influenced by the fact that we have experienced climate change in the garden.  (If you are doubtful of my conclusion, see also my blog post "Climate Change in the Rose Garden": http://theminnesotarosegardener.blogspot.com/2012/06/climate-change-in-rose-garden.html

Before going any further, let's take a look at exactly what we are trying to accomplish by winter-protecting our roses.  Here in the upper-midwest, where the ground freezes solid in winter, it stands to reason that the roses freeze too.  In Minnesota, the ground freezes from several inches to several feet deep, depending on how much snow-cover insulation we get.  Obviously then, tipped roses are going to freeze just as solid as those that are left intact in the ground to go naturally dormant.  So, even though we can't stop the roses from freezing, we can try to stop them from repeatedly freezing and thawing, and that is what any method of winter protection is all about in the Upper Midwest, i.e. to keep the roses frozen until Spring.

Now there is clearly a line of demarcation where this changes, which is what makes this subject kind of confusing, depending on where you live.  In USDA Zone 6, where I was raised, and points south, the ground really doesn't consistently freeze for the whole winter, so the objective in these warmer areas would be to insulate the roses to keep them from freezing in the first place or, if you have a very cold period where they do freeze, to keep them frozen until it warms up.  Actually, I think the method I recommend, i.e. permanent wood-chip mulch, plus compost and leaves in the winter, works well in any cold climate, whether the roses consistently freeze or not.  It's just a question of how aggressively you protect.

All of my beds have at least three inches of permanent wood mulch on them.  I pull back the wood chips around the plants in the spring and summer, as I add organic fertilizer (Bob's Mix) and coffee grounds.  Then, in October, I push the wood mulch back around the plants and, for the plants that are zone 5 hardy, or more sensitive, I add several shovels of compost from my mulch pile, which is last year's shredded oak leaves and lots of Starbucks coffee grounds.  When the roses begin to go into dormancy in late October or early November, I tie them into a bundle at about the 18 inch level, using baler twine.  Finally, when the ground first freezes, which around here is usually in late November or early December, I shear off the tops of the plants with my hedge clipper, right at the 18 inch point, where they are tied.  Then I surround the plants with leaves, either by creating a cylinder of short fencing full of leaves, or by pushing a leaf bag with its bottom slit open down over the bundled plants.  I like the leaf bag method (which I learned from a Chicago-land rosarian) because it allows you to reverse the process in the spring without leaving excess leaves in the beds.  The bags can then be emptied into my mulch pile or into my bin for compost pickup (which in my case goes out to the mulch pile at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum).

By the way, the reason for waiting until the ground freezes to put leaves around your roses, is that you run the risk of providing a habitat for voles if you put them on earlier.  See my post on voles:
http://theminnesotarosegardener.blogspot.com/2012/10/voles-and-roses.html

Again, for those who have been reading my blog, you know that I have also been hardening off my roses with six successive weeks of liquid potassium applications (see: http://theminnesotarosegardener.blogspot.com/2012/08/potassium-special-k-ration-feast-for.html .)

 So, when I finish my "Big Coverup" I am quite sure that I have done more than enough to protect my roses from the Minnesota winter.  Because I am convinced that the Twin Cities area has moved solidly into zone 5, I also leave several of my zone 5 hardy plants (i.e. "Earth Song") with only the wood mulch covering on them each year.  While they die back closer to the ground, they recover very quickly in the spring and do just as well as the plants that were more aggressively covered.  I'll be doing that again this year and will report my results in the spring.

Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have any ideas about the "Big Coverup" that you would like me to publish.  I would particularly like to hear from readers in northern Europe and Russia, as to how you winter-protect your roses.  Send an e-mail to: jack@falkerinvestments.com  .

Here are a couple of pictures of the current state of the "Big Coverup" in my beds.  Note that the roses have been mulched and tied, but not yet cut back:






Monday, October 22, 2012

Potassium Feast Follow Up

I'll be completing my sixth and final application of postassium this week.  The canes on my roses are a beautiful dark red; all hardened off for the cold weather to come.

Someone in the U.K. who read my blog raised a valid question on a garden chat site about the level of chloride (salt) being applied to the beds with Muriate of Potash and suggested that perhaps Potassium Sulfate would be a better form of potassium for the roses.  That's a good idea and I will be looking into the availability of Potassium Sulfate next year, if for no other reason to add a little sulfur to my soil.

However, in reality, the level of salts being applied with one tablespoon of Muriate of Potash per three gallons of water is quite small and well within good soil management limits.  Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I exchanged with Dr. Peter Bierman, Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota Soil, Water and Climate Department, in February 2011:

" I agree that winter hardiness is one of the most important functions of potassium. The rate you quoted would be about 0.1 lb K2O per plant per year. U of M recommendations for a flower garden for a soil testing low in potassium is 0.4 lb K2O per 100 sq ft., which would be close to that recommendation. So even if your soil tested high in potassium it would be a reasonable amount to apply for winter hardiness insurance and wouldn't be an excessive amount in terms of adding high salts."

Bottom Line:  The "Potassium Feast" has worked for me for 20 years without a problem and falls well within the limits of good soil management.

I would enjoy hearing from others who have tried the "Potassium Feast" this year.  E-mail me: jack@falkerinvesments.com  .


Friday, October 19, 2012

Voles!

Well, the JBs have found their way into my lawn as grubs, chewing as they went; the spider mites have hopefully gone dormant after our first hard frost here in Minneapolis; and the deer can't do too much more damage, after the roses go dormant.  So, there's nothing else to worry about except winter-protecting the roses, right?  Not!  Now it's time to start protecting the roses from winter's nastiest pest: Voles!

These voracious little rodents are also known as meadow mice, which is a much kinder name than they deserve.  What they do, if you haven't experienced them, is burrow around in the mulch and winter-cover in your rose beds and eat the bark off the roses, right down to the cambium, which, of course, girdles the canes and kills them.  It has happened to me and I had to cut all the plants in one of my beds right to the ground and, in some cases, below ground level to save them.  Thankfully all of my roses grow on their own roots, because otherwise they would not have survived.

Here are a few facts about voles from a North Carolina State University article: 

Characteristics: "Voles are small mammals, commonly called meadow mice, that live in field and shrub habitats. In the wild, voles forage on native vegetation and provide a valuable food source for predators such as weasels, hawks, and snakes. In horticultural plantings, including flower and shrub plantings and home orchards, however, voles can cause damage by eating flower bulbs, girdling the stems of woody plants, and gnawing roots. Plants not killed outright may be invaded by diseases or die from water stress during periods of drought."

Reproduction: "Female voles have a gestation period of 24 days, have an average litter size of 2.8, and produce four to six litters per year. They reach sexual maturity at 37 to 38 days and have a reproductive life span of 15 to 18 months."

That's a pretty amazing, geometric, reproduction rate so it's easy to see how they become an infestation in and around your garden, requiring yearly control, as they have in mine.

Here's the address of the NCSU article if you'd like to read more:
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wild/wildlife/wdc/voles2.html

And here's what voles look like:




Vole Control

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your roses from voles. 

Castor Oil: This is the most effective solution I have found.  Voles really don't like castor oil; apparently, from what I have read, it makes them sick, and they avoid an area on which it has been applied.  Mix one or two teaspoons of castor oil (I use more rather than less) and one teaspoon of liquid detergent, per gallon of water, and apply it liberally around the bases of your roses and generally around your rose beds, where the voles might travel/burrow in the winter.  The best time to do this is in late Fall, when the ground is lightly frozen, just before putting your final mulch or leaf cover around your roses. Around here, that would be in mid to late-November.  I mix it in a 30-gallon trash container, pump it out with a sump pump, and apply it with a hose and watering wand, exactly like I do liquid fertilizers and potassium. You can also use a sprinkling can to apply it, if your garden isn't too big. You'll also get a good idea of how castor oil clings to anything on which it is applied if you run your hand around the inside of the trash container or sprinkling can, after you're finished.  It's still clinging to mine, after a full year of using the can to apply other mixtures.

The article below suggests using a hose-end fertilizer applicator and I think that might be a good idea.  The article describes the success a commercial hosta grower in New Hampshire has had with castor oil to protect his hosta fields.  The embedded video is very long-winded, so unless you have a lot of time, I would suggest simply reading the article, which tells you everything you need to know.
http://www.nhhostas.com/organic-vole-control.htm

(P.S. There's also an interesting article about controlling slugs on hostas on his website.)

So, my immediate question, after reading the article, was: Where the heck do I get castor oil?  I did some research on-line and found that you can order large quantities of castor oil, enough to last you for many years, relatively inexpensively, but I also found that buying more than you need for one year at a time is a mistake, because castor oil has a very short shelf-life once its container has been opened.  So, the best place I have found to buy just the right quantity of castor oil is Wal-Mart, in their health and beauty area.  Look in the laxative section, because that's what it's used for and, come to think of it, that's probably why it works on the voles! 

Rodent Baits:  Killing voles is desirable, before they over-run you, but this is a touchy subject because rodent baits can also affect other animals, like neighborhood cats and dogs.  The common rodent bait that you find in most stores is an anti-coagulant poison, which, when eaten a couple of times, stays in the intestines, causes massive internal bleeding and kills the animal.  I used it in my rose beds for years, without thinking, until about five years ago when we got a new kitten and he managed to find a mouse or vole that had eaten it, in among the winter-protected roses.  I will save you the terrible details, but it resulted in a very large emergency veterinary bill to save this humane society kitty and, fortunately, he is still with us (but he used two or three of his nine lives on that one).

After that experience, I went to work researching what other non-coagulant rodent baits might be on the market, and I found one.  The brand name is "Eraze", made by Motomco, the same company that makes the anti-coagulant baits.  The active ingredient in this one is Zinc Phosphide, which is nonetheless a poison, but acts in a different way, killing small animals immediately after ingestion.  There are conflicting opinions on this, but an article by Michigan State University indicates that it is less lethal to larger animals, such as cats and dogs, because their normal reaction after ingesting it would be to regurgitate it rather than digest it.  There is no question that it would kill any animal if eaten in sufficient quantity, but it apparently is less dangerous because it kills the rodent and dissipates rather than staying in the animal as the anti-coagulant does, thus potentially transferring to another animal or predatory bird (owl or hawk) that might eat the dead or dying rodent, as we believe our kitten did.  Note that Motomco also makes a similar product labeled as mole bait that uses Zinc Phosphide, so if you can't find Eraze, you can use the mole bait (check the label to be sure).  Other companies also offer Zinc Phosphide under different brand names.

Most important is how you use the bait.  The most common way of putting it in the rose beds is to use a tin can lying on its side alongside or between the rose bushes.  The can should be covered with leaves and/or protected in other ways (such as fencing) so that neighborhood animals can't get at it.  I also use the large, black, "Tomcat" poison dispensers that are usually found in warehouses or barns.  I put a couple of bricks or heavy stones on top of each container because animals like raccoons try to get the bait out of them by tipping them on their sides.  I also put a securely anchored cylinder of  24" fencing around each container to keep other animals away.

There is another device for dispensing rodent poisons that is made of L or T-shaped PVC piping buried in the winter protective leaf and mulch cover.  This method is used extensively in the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum rose gardens and is discussed in detail in the following article from the University of Missouri.  The article also deals specifically with Zinc Phosphide as the vole bait of choice and displays a graphic of the PVC dispenser, right at the end of the article.  I will leave you with that article for your perusal:
 http://ppp.missouri.edu/newsletters/meg/archives/v14n5/v14n5.pdf

Bottom line is that in every winter I have either used rodent baits, applied castor oil, or both (as last winter), I have not had vole damage to any of my roses.  The one winter that I did nothing I had severe damage.  So, lesson learned: you need to do something to protect your roses from voles.

E-mail if you have any questions to: jack@falkerinvestments.com .











Saturday, October 6, 2012

Overwintering Potted Roses in the Garage

I contend that, if you want to learn anything about winter-protecting roses anywhere in the world, ask someone in Minnesota.  Historically, Minnesotans have experienced some of the harshest winters in the lower 48 states and that has given rise to the most unique ideas of winter rose protection you will find anywhere (witness the "Minnesota Tip").  I always chuckle when I read nationally published articles about winter protecting roses in zones 6 or 7, earnestly describing their "harsh" winters.  I grew up in zone 6 (Detroit) and all we ever did was rake leaves around our hybrid teas, with never a winter-kill problem.  Obviously not so in Minnesota, despite the fact that our winters have gotten significantly warmer in the last ten years or so. We're feeling a lot more like zone 5 than zone 4 these days.  (See my blog post: Climate Change in the Rose Garden:
 http://jack-rosarian.blogspot.com/2012/06/climate-change-in-rose-garden.html  ).

The members of the Twin Cities Rose Club (TCRC) are a bunch of smart northern gardeners and some of the best rose-growing ideas get published in the TCRC Newsletter, month-to-month.  A recent article by my friend Chris Poppe really caught my eye and I asked her if she would let me pass along her excellent article "Over-wintering Roses in the Garage" to the readers of the Minnesota Rose Gardener blog.  She enthusiastically agreed, so here we go.  Chris is a recently retired teacher from the Minneapolis Public School System; a smart lady with a beautiful rose garden on a small lot in Minneapolis (hey, she even grows broccoli alongside her roses)!  She's also the program chair of the TCRC.

Here's her article, along with some very good "how-to" pictures:


Over-wintering Roses in the Garage
 
by Chris Poppe
 
Every year, as I pile potted rose bushes (sans the pots) into the trench where I bury my tree roses, I wish that I could just leave some of them in their pots for the winter and save myself a lot of work.  But, that would only mean that I’d have a lot of dead, potted roses come Springtime.  So, I dig and bury until they’re all covered. 

Then, last year I went to the open garden offered by John and Char Turek at their farm in Chaska.  John has over 300 rose bushes in his garden - about 90% of them grown in pots.  Every Fall, John gives them all a good watering, cuts them way back and moves them to an insulated, but unheated, part of his barn, where they rest for the winter and emerge to grow and bloom another year.  Some of John’s roses are 5-10 years old and have lived in pots all their lives. 

That got me thinking.  Where and how can I replicate John’s storage area?  Living in the city, I have no barn, but I do have an unheated but sort-of- insulated garage.  Hmmm.   It’s a double garage and I have only one car, but it’s also the winter home of all my outdoor furniture (tables, chairs, glider, settee, etc), garden decorations, potting bench, lawn mower, wheel barrow, bicycle, etc. etc. etc.  Along the East side and into the SE corner, I have an old wooden picnic table which serves as a storage area for a lot of the folding furniture.                                                                             

I decided to build my winter rose shelter in that SE corner, so I shoved the picnic table about 3 feet to the North and lined the back and floor of the space with foil-faced, roll insulation.  I wedged a piece of 1” foam insulation into the space along the back wall of the garage, put another piece of foil insulation on the opposite “wall” and put a second piece of foam on the floor on top of the foil, so the pots would be separated from the floor.

The picture below shows the the start of the enclosure-building, with foil on the back wall and extending across the floor, a piece of foam insulation on the right wall and, although you can't see it, another piece of foam on the floor under the foil insulation.




Below is the enclosure as it was being constructed. The curved piece of foil will become the left side wall of the enclosure.
 
 

After watering the pots and cutting the canes back to about 10 inches, I wrapped  foil around each pot and made a small “hat” to put over the canes. Below is one of the pots ready to be put into the enclosure. The pot itself is wrapped in foil and I made a little cap of taped-together foil to cover the canes themselves.


 I pushed the pots into their insulated box, packing them together as tightly as possible. Then, I put another long piece of foil over the top of the space, tucking and taping it into place.   

                                          
When Spring came, I opened my  storage area to find that all four Hybrid Tea roses were already beginning to leaf out!


I then moved the pots out into the garden. Here is the wintered-over rose bush enjoying its first sunshine in more than five months


My "wintered-over" plants have grown and bloomed all summer.  Below is "Love's Kiss" in full bloom in mid May.


This fall, I’m going to try to winter over several more.  Give it a try in your storage shed or garage. This might lead you to a whole new program for growing roses!   

                                                                                            Chris Poppe

Editor's note:  Chris doesn't mention that one of the important things she is doing by enclosing her potted roses in foil insulation packages is not only to keep them insulated, but also to keep them in complete darkness throughout their dormant period.  Also, she mentions watering them before enclosing them.  I have read that watering the plants, but not soaking them, is the right way, which I'm sure is what she did.  At some point, perhaps half way through the dormant period, you can open them a bit and add a little more moisture, so they don't completely dry out.

I have used a similar, though less sophisticated, method, putting my pots on the wood floor of my trailer (i.e. off the concrete floor of the garage) and covering the whole trailer with a canvas top.  My garage is insulated and heated, so I am able keep them right at, or just above, the freezing point.  Another TCRC member, Millie Hisey, just puts her potted roses in the back of her pickup truck (which has a camper top), puts the truck in the garage, and goes to Arizona for the winter.  So there are several ways of doing this, but I think Chris' method is the slickest I've seen.

I'm sure Chris will be glad to take your questions.  Simply leave a comment/question at the bottom of the blog page, and I will pass it along to Chris.




 







Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Follow-up on Potassium Feast and Air Layering

Here are a few pictures showing current results of my previous posts on the Fall Potassium Feast and Propagating Roses by Air Layering.

As I mentioned in my article: Potassium - A Special K-Ration Feast For Your Roses:
http://jack-rosarian.blogspot.com/2012/08/potassium-special-k-ration-feast-for.html , after a few weekly applications of liquid potassium, the canes and stems of the plants start turning red, as they harden off on their way to dormancy.  I made my third application (of six) yesterday and here are a couple of pictures showing how my roses (Earth Song) look at the half-way point in the process:



Note how red the stems are becoming, as the potassium moves into the plants; also note the edges of the leaves and the vivid color of the flowers.  After the final three applications, this becomes even more noticeable.  I think it's quite beautiful.

Second, here is an update on the status of my air-layered maidens pictured in my article: Propagating Roses by Air Layering: http://jack-rosarian.blogspot.com/2012/08/potassium-special-k-ration-feast-for.html .

As you can see, they have grown quite a bit in the last couple of weeks.  They are sunbathing for a couple of hours this afternoon, from their usual spot in a shaded cold-frame on the north side of my house.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Roses and Deer

I live on the edge of a wetland in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.  The back of my property, behind my garden and pond, is in the watershed of Nine Mile Creek, which, true to its name, runs for nine miles until it reaches the Minnesota River Valley, which ultimately joins the Mississippi, several miles further along.  To say that we have wildlife in our area is an understatement.  I am never surprised with what comes through my yard and garden.  I don't just see an occasional deer; I see herds of them!  We also see coyote and two of my neighbors encountered a cougar a couple of years ago.  No bears yet, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if one showed up in my rose garden.

So here's what I saw yesterday afternoon, in broad daylight:


This young buck is eating my Morden Centennials with the sun shining on his flank!  He's not supposed to be around at that time of day!  So what gives?

As you can see, I got pretty close to him with my iPhone and he didn't even look up until I got a little closer:


The look says it all.   "Yes, what can I do for you?  I'm eating my lunch"!  Note the two antler buds on his  head.  He's a two pointer!

So... I tried to get a little closer yet and this is what happened:


He jumped over the garden wall and took off into the wetland with his family; there were actually three of them watching all of this!  Don't be fooled by that nicely mowed lawn; it turns into a creek when we get a good rainfall.  The deer are really in their natural element.

So, how do I grow roses in this environment?  It would normally be a very big challenge; perhaps impossible without extraordinary measures.  But actually I really have their number, because they have a big weakness: They love peanut butter more than they do roses! 

And that is the fundamental idea behind the "Minnesota Deer Trick".  It consists of a modular electric fence powered by a standard livestock fence-controller and a 12-volt battery.  On that fence I hang strips of aluminum foil smeared with peanut butter.  The fence alone will not deter the deer.  I have seen them jump over it or crawl under it when it's not turned on (like yesterday afternoon).  However, they can't resist a lick of the peanut butter bait on the electrified aluminum strips, when the fence is up and running.  Because the fence is only connected up, electrified and baited from dusk to dawn (their usual time for garden foraging), I hardly ever see them make contact, but I know they do because I have no deer damage, as long as the fence is baited and turned on every evening.  I only saw it happen once in the very early morning, several years ago, and I have never seen a deer jump so high or run so fast.

Deer are xenophobic.  Once they have experienced a shock on their tongue or nose they go away and stay away.  However, this has to happen to every deer in every herd that passes through my yard and that means I have to be consistent about putting up and baiting the fence every night.  Yesterday afternoon when I took the pictures above, I immediately realized that I had a new group of deer in my garden, because those that have been shocked don't come back, as long as I am consistent with the fence.  They're still around in large numbers, but they give my garden a wide berth as they forage in my neighbors' yards.  So, last night I freshened up my peanut butter strips and turned on the fence a little bit early, because I knew they would be back.  The result?  No further damage last night, as expected.  However, I did find a pile of deer excrement very close to one of the electrified peanut butter baits.  Guess it scared the "you know what" out of that little two-pointer!

I'll write another blog soon, detailing a "how to" for the "Minnesota Deer Trick", including where to get an electric fence controller (farm store) and how my fence is constructed (modularly to make it easy to put up and take down).

Bottom line:  The "Minnesota Deer Trick" works. 

As always, let me know if you have any questions or observations.  Send an e-mail to
jack@falkerinvestments.com .



Friday, September 21, 2012

Propagating Roses by Air Layering- North Central ARS Convention



Hello everyone!  On Saturday, September 15th, I had the opportunity to make a presentation to the North Central Convention of the American Rose Society on rose propagation, specifically the process of air layering, which is a fascinating, 4,000 year old Chinese technique.  The slides that follow are self-explanatory, but I'll insert a few comments to give you the flavor of the presentation, as we go along.  The blog site doesn't lend itself well to importing PowerPoint presentations, so please excuse the slight blurriness of the slides, which I believe are pretty readable, though not perfect.

I will also append two articles at the end of the slides: one on air layering, from which I learned the technique, and the second on rooting stem cuttings by Mel Hulse, a legendary rosarian, who recently passed away.  Both of these articles originally appeared on the ARS website, but they are no longer available there.

Finally, please ask me questions, because I want to help you in any way I can.  My e-mail address is:
jack@falkerinvestments.com.  I hope you will have as much fun propagating roses as I have, over the years.  It's one of my favorite things to do in the garden.


These are pictures of my garden in Edina, Minnesota, an inner-ring suburb of Minneapolis.  Above, is my Buck "Earth Song" bed, composed entirely of roses that I have propagated.  Below is the same bed from a different perspective, with my pond and Morden Centennial bed in the background.



Above are Buck "Prairie Harvest", "Morden Blush" and "Winnipeg Parks", most of which I have propagated.  Below is my "Earth Song" bed again, on the morning of my presentation, which I couldn't resist including







This is my friend, Dick Lawson doing his first air layer this summer on a very sweaty, 95 degree day in Minnesota.  Thanks to Dick and Diane Lawson for these pictures of their beautiful garden.



In the picture above, Dick is scraping off the green phloem tissue to get down to white wood.  If you don't do this, roots will not form.  However, the biggest mistake you can make in removing the bark and scraping the green tissue off is cutting too deeply into the cane you are working on.  That will cause the cane to eventually break and ruin your work.  I have made this mistake several times and is really the only problem I've had in producing healthy, new plants by air layering.













Note that as long as the cane above your air layer is healthy and growing, your air layer is successful and should produce roots in a few weeks.



Above, you can see roots forming after about 3 or 4 weeks.  This is the point at which I do a little fertilizing by inserting a hypodermic needle with weak liquid fertilizeer to give the new plant a  boost.  Below, you see the results.  This is my favorite picture in the presentation.  Look at that root system!


Below is an air layer that Dick opened up prematurely to see what was going on.  This is very interesting because you can see the callous from which the new roots form.  Dick says he closed this one back up and the growth above continued to look good, so perhaps he will get a new plant after all.




Above and below are three new plants inside my cold-frame, where they will stay until the weather gets too cold for them to be outside, at which time they will come inside under the lights for the rest of the winter.



Above and below are two of the plants showing new growth, after being in their pots for about two weeks.  Note that they have been cut back to about six or eight inches, leaving several leaf nodes from which the new growth starts.  Also note that the plants have been stripped of all leaves to clear the way for new growth and reduce overhead for the new roots to support.  It's been a week since these pictures have been taken and both of these plants show significantly more growth today.


Below is the light stand in my basement, where the new plants live during the winter.  The stand uses ten 100-watt compact fluorescent bulbs, giving me 1,000 watts of light, while drawing only about 200 watts of power.  The bulbs are mounted in five dual sockets on an old shop light that I gutted and rewired.  I use a mix of high frequency (cool) and low frequency (warm) bulbs to give me a broad spectrum of light.  The plants are bottom-watered with a light fertilizer mixture and really grow well in this environment, such that they prolifically bloom and have to be cut back as the winter progresses.  My biggest problem is latent spider mites that are very hard to completely eliminate.  I wash the mites off every four days in the laundry room sink but they keep coming back if I let the washing go too long.  I don't spray any miticides or insecticides indoors.  The other problem I have, though not as pervasive as mites, is white flies.  They can be controlled by soaking some kitty litter (the paper variety) in Merit (imidacloprid) and putting it on the plants as mulch.


Here are the ARS propagation articles on Air Layering and Stem Cuttings.  Unfortunately, the pictures accompanying these articles did not copy to the blog site.  If you would like an e-mail copy of the articles, with the pictures, send me an e-mail: jack@falkerinvestments.com and I'll send them to you.

Propagating Roses by Air-Layering


by Leonora Tsukayama
East Hawaii Rose Society

ROSE PLANTS WITH ROOTS IN 21 DAYS! It's possible if done correctly and conditions (plant health, growth pattern and weather) are right. It happens in my own back yard and within months I am admiring blooms from my new plant. The method is called air-layering. About 4000 years ago the Chinese people used it to duplicate plants that were difficult to root by cuttings. It is similar to the old layering method of bending a lower flexible branch to the ground, then placing a heavy rock on the branch and waiting for a long time to see the roots grow. There is no trauma to the mother plant; in fact, it will promote growth as if you pruned that branch. Healthy new shoots will sprout below the air-layer.

My mom taught me this technique many years ago when there were no garden centers to buy plants and supplies. She would drive up to the forest and pick her own sphagnum moss and would then air-layer the plants of her friends. Some of these plants were the lychee, lemon, pikaki, evergreens, roses and a lot more. After a couple months she would come home with a gleam in her eyes and a new plant in her hands.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
The leaves make nutrients from the sun and send it down the phloem tissue (a greenish substance located just under the bark) to the roots. When this "pipeline" is cut and kept moist the nutrients will collect at that point and in ten days form a callus from which the roots will develop. The air-layered part will still receive its water and nutrients from the roots through the xylem tissue located inside the woody part of the stem.

Some advantages of air-layering are higher percentage of success, a jump-start in plant growth by at least two years, stronger root system, very low cost, no "baby sitting" cuttings, and you get personal satisfaction when you see the fast results.

SUPPLIES:

- Sphagnum moss or Jiffy Peat Pellet (soaked in water)
- Sharp knife
- Rootone (liquid or powder)
- A small brush
- Clear plastic sheet (6" x 10") or sandwich bag (cut open)
- Twist-ties
- Plant labels

PROCEDURE:
Choose a green, pencil-size stem and make a safe area to work in by removing thorns, leaves, and branches.
About 1/4" below a leaf node, make a cut around the stem and 1" below that make another cut. Then remove the bark between the two cuts.
With the knife blade, scrape the wood, making sure the bark and the green tissue is completely removed or it may not develop roots.
Brush on Rootone
Wrap with the clear plastic sheet making small pleats as you go around the stem, forming a sack. Then 5/8" below the cut area, snugly twist-tie it. (Not too tight in order to allow the plant to expand).

Pull the plastic sheet down to expose the site. This makes it easier to place the moss around the cut.

Squeeze out water from a handful of moss or a Jiffy Peat Pellet pot until just moist.

Form a wad about the size of your palm or make a vertical tear down the Jiffy Pot.
Wrap moss or Jiffy Pot 3/4" above and below the bare stem.

Pull up the plastic and straighten, making sure it is air and water-tight.

Secure top with the twist-tie (Not too tight in order to allow the plant to expand).

Label your plant as desired (plant name, color, type, date, etc.)
Periodically examine the layer. Most rose plants show their white roots beneath the plastic sheet after 21 days, some may take longer.


PLANTING:
  • The roots will show through the plastic sheet. When they are about an inch long (about 21 to 28 days), clip the stem off below the layer. Soak in water if you are not ready to plant, but no longer than three days.
  • Gently remove ties and plastic. Carefully loosen moss or tear some of the netting from the Jiffy Pot.
  • Trim off all the leaves and young shoots, then cut off side branches till the plant is about 10" tall.
  • Plant your new air-layered rose.
OBSERVATIONS AND TIPS:
Healthy mothers make healthy babies. Pamper the mother plant with extra liquid fertilizer and water two weeks before this procedure to insure vigorous growth.
It is harder to peel the bark off during the dry season. It's a good idea to make sure that the mother plant is well hydrated.
We must respect our hard working hybridizers who spend many years developing new rose plants. Patented roses should not be cloned.
Stems that are green but not tender develop roots faster than brown older ones.
Add a couple drops of household bleach and 1/4 teaspoon of liquid fertilizer to the water before soaking the moss. Bleach kills bacteria and fertilizer promotes growth for the new plant.
Potting soil can be used as a growing medium, but I find it hard to fill the plastic sack.
Disinfecting your knife with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide is good, but be sure to rinse with clean water before using it on your next plant.
Using a foil or a dark cloth as a cover will promote root growth and prevent the tender young roots from burning in the hot sun. However, I don't like it because it makes a great hiding place for lizards.
If you notice the layered part starting to wilt, remove by cutting it off below the clear plastic sack and check to see if there's a callus. If so, soak in water until it hydrates, then plant it. Sometimes it may grow.
HAPPY PROPAGATING!


Rooting Roses - A Rose Rustler's Toolkit

Rosarian Contact: Mel Hulse - Volunteer Maintenance Director of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, San Jose, CA

(This article has been widely circulated on the Internet; the most recent version has been improved with the inclusion of Paul Barden's photos.)
Here is that article, complete with the pictures:
http://www.paulbardenroses.com/hulse.html

Rose rustling is great fun! Whether admired in a bouquet, a friend's garden, or found on a Sunday drive, knowing that you can clone the rose that takes your fancy expands your love of your rose growing hobby. Hardwood rooting is a classic amateur method of propagation, but is available only in the winter when you can't see most roses bloom. Bud grafting requires ready root stock and is mostly suited to professionals and experienced amateurs. Softwood rooting is available when you see the rose blooming. I have had the good fortune in turning softwood cuttings into growing bushes planted the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden and others. I've started 1,000s of cuttings with near 100% success when cuttings meet the specs I'm giving you and good success with less select cuttings. Remember that all roses started out as seedlings on their own roots so grafting is not essential to their growth. Old Garden Roses, English Roses, Shrubs, and Miniatures are generally good candidates for rooting cuttings because most grow vigorously on their own roots. Most modern roses such as Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are sold budded onto rootstock. Most newer ones grow well on their own roots; a few do not. A small number of old varieties, such as Spinosissimas and some other roses with dense prickles as well as a few modern roses, are difficult to propagate and may take many tries to gain success. Please remember that asexual reproduction of roses still under patent protection (now 20 years) is illegal, especially if for sale. This technique stresses three goals - simplicity, successful rooting of your softwood cuttings, and ease of transfer of the rooted cutting to your garden.

EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES:

* A very bright interior window ledge or table in front of the window with no direct sun. I am having success outside under a covered, shaded deck in our warmer climate (overnight temperature above 45 degrees).
* One gallon ZipLock type storage bag(s).
* Bypass shears.
* A very sharp pocket, paring, or budding knife, preferably carbon steel.
* 1 gallon or more container of water.
* Potting soil. For bags, you want a mixture that holds together well when damp. Ingredients should be of fairly fine texture. In the West, Supersoil works well. Shultz Potting Soil with Fertilizer from Walmart And Whitney Farms Seed Starting Mix work also.
* Spray bottle of about 16 oz. capacity. Put in 1/8 teaspoon Miracle Gro for Roses, K-Mart's cheaper clone or Peter's 20-20-20, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda to prevent fungus, and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to make it cling. Fill with water. The mix should suds a little when shaken. If not, add more dishwashing liquid. If you make a gallon, use a teaspoon each of fertilizer and baking soda.
* Rooting powder or liquid. Useful, but not essential. I prefer liquid Dip 'n' Grow because I can vary the strength.
* A garden marking pen and labels. Home Depot sells a small kit of 40 labels and the right kind of marking pen.
* Notebook and pen with waterproof ink.
* 10" wooden skewers of the type used for shish ke-bab.
* 1-gallon plastic planting pots. You know; those black things!
* 14" saucers. Cheap, plastic terracotta color ones from Home Depot work fine.
* Patience!

SELECTING THE CUTTING:

The ideal in order of priority:

1. A stem with a spent flower is desirable. A stem with a flower bud with no color showing is too young.
2. Include four - 5 leaflet leaves on the stem. 5 leaves are acceptable. Fit in the baggie governs the length. Note. For this and the remainder of this article, "5 leaflet leaves" includes varieties that have 7 or more leaflet leaves.
3. A heel at the bottom. This is the place where a branching cane grows out of a main cane. Cut right up against the main cane. Faulting this, cut immediately below the bottom bud.
4. Soft, flexible wood, 1/4" in diameter or less.
5. Disease/virus free.

At left: An ideal cutting.

For climbers that are sports of a bush form of the same rose, use the end of a climbing cane rather than a lateral even though it has no bloom on the end. Use of a lateral may cause the climber to revert to the bush form. Nature doesn't always give you the ideal and all of the above guidelines can be broken if necessary, but try for the ideal. Keep the cutting damp until ready to use. Wrap loosely with a wet paper towel and put in a plastic bag. Keep cool. Refrigerate, if possible. Use within a week.

 
PREPARING THE BAG:

* Write the rose name or found location and date on a new baggie with the gardening pen. Note all known information about the rose with date in your notebook. If you are more diligent than I, you can keep notes on your cuttings' progress as a reference for future propagation efforts.
* Fold the zipper part down a couple of inches to keep the zip groves clean. Put 3 cups of potting mix into the bag. No more.
* Pour a scant cup of water into the bag. Grab the bag above the potting soil and knead the water into the soil. While doing this, tuck the bottom corners of the bag under the soil. The mass should look like a ball. When thoroughly mixed, test for enough water. - If water leaks out when the bag is inverted, and squeezed it is too wet. Squeeze out the excess water. - Put the bag top upon a flat surface. Press the top of the soil down to form a 1+" deep, round pancake. Stick a finger into the soil in the middle. If the soil breaks apart, you need to add water and recheck.
* Set aside on a flat surface.

 
PREPARE AND INSERT THE CUTTING:

Snip off the stem 1/2" above the top-most 5-leaflet leaf. Strip off the bottom leaves leaving 1 large or 2 regular 5-leaflet leaves. These are required to produce a hormone during rooting and to start growth. If the cutting does not terminate in a heel, locate the lowest bud eye on the cutting--make a cut straight across directly below the lowest bud eye (the "bud eye" is the swelling right above the junction of the leaf with the cane.) Here are several guidelines for unusual cases:

* Lateral stems with mature leaves off the main cutting cane. Cut (don't try to break) these off very close to the cane. The bud eye they came from can still produce more breaks.
* 'Broken' (opening) lateral buds with immature leaves on the upper part of the cutting. Leave the highest one alone. It will grow. Carefully cut off any others with your shears.
* Very small or broken leaves at the top. Leave 3 leaves. Break off the thorns on the bottom inch of the cane being careful not to disturb any minute buds. Note that there are many tiny buds above a heel. Carve a shallow cut through the bark from 1/2 - 3/4" above the bottom of the cutting to the end of the cutting on the opposite side from a bud. Avoid cutting any bud eyes.

At right: A typical cutting, about 6 inches long with bottom leaves trimmed off.
The cutting will form a whitish callus along this score and along the cut end of the cane. This is where roots emerge.

Dip the bottom inch of the cutting in liquid rooting compound or for powdered rooting compound, water and then the compound and knock off any excess. Place the cutting in the hole you made with your finger with the leaves running the same way as the zip grooves at the top of the bag. Press the potting soil around the cutting. It is best if the cane is slanted from one end of the bag toward the other. Be careful in this process to avoid letting thorns puncture a hole in the bag. If this happens, use another bag. Unfold the top of the bag to be ready to close it. Spray the inside generously with the spray bottle you prepared. If any foreign material got on the zip groves, wash it off with the sprayer. Close the bag from both ends toward the middle leaving an inch unclosed. Be sure you do not catch leaflets in the zip grooves. Blow into the bag to expand it like a balloon and zip it up completely. Put the baggie in bright, indirect light preferably inside. Direct sun will scorch and kill the cuttings. At left: Inserting the cutting.

From now on, handle the bag only from the top. Set it down only on a hard, flat surface (not your knee.) The idea is minimum displacement of the cane and new roots. Note: While not recommended, it is possible to root 2 or 3 cuttings in a single bag if you are pressed for space. Sorting out roots during potting or later planting will be a potential source for loss. I have found that with 4 or more cuttings some usually die.

WATCH IT GROW:

Now comes the fun! Roses are very individual and perform differently. New growth may appear in 8 days ('The Fairy') or may take over 3 months ('Belinda' with a hard cane.) Some will form a lot of roots without breaking a bud; some will become tiny bushes in the bag with no visible roots for some time. The presence of leaves does not mean that your cutting has 'struck' (taken). Stored energy in the cutting can support a lot of top growth, but if the cutting doesn't callous and roots don't appear, the cutting will eventually die. Most of the care needed is an occasional bag reinflation. The bag provides the complete humid environment the cuttings need - a mini greenhouse. Don't worry if some of the original leaves turn yellow and drop so long as the cane is green. Remove the dead leaflets (use tweezers) and any mushrooms or fungus. If the soil cracks at the cane, gently move soil into the crack and firm it in place. The skewers are great tools for this. Give the inside of the bag several shots out of your spray bottle before reinflating the bag. Some of these dummies think they should bloom in the bag!!!! Watch carefully for buds and nip them immediately. If you don't, you may lose the rose or set it back months. As long as the cutting cane is green, any of the original leaflets or new growth are still alive, or roots are apparent and vital, your rose is alive. Don't despair!
Above: The bags with their cuttings placed under lights. A bright place with indirect light is also a good choice.

HARDENING:

When to open the bag? This is the tough one. Here are some conditions that should work:

* Roots show on the bottom of the bag and you have 2 or 3 five leaflet leaves of new growth.
* You can't see roots, but new top growth has approached the top of the bag and is not spindly or growth lower on the cutting looks mature.
* There are strong roots on the bottom of the bag for several weeks and a bud eye has swollen but not broken. Opening the bag to harden the plant is the most critical time in the process. If you lose the rose, it will probably be at this point. Be sure that you have time to care for the rose on the day you open the bag and the day after. It doesn't hurt to put off the "coming out" until you have time. Patience!!! Open the bag for about one inch for about 3 hours the first day. Use a skewer stuck through the opening and into the soil to hold the bag vertical. Check the rose every hour. If the new growth droops or the leaflet edges brown, close and blow up the bag, wait a few days and try again. If the rose is unaffected by the opening, close the bag after the 3 hours. The next day, double the opening period and the size of the opening. Keep watching carefully. Keep up these increases each day until the bag is completely open. Backup a step if the rose can't take it. After the bag has been completely open a day, fold down the zip part. Keep in place another 4 days. Give it a spray once or twice every day.

 
POTTING AND PLANTING YOUR TREASURE:

Now you will see the reason why I told you to tuck in the bag corners. If possible, do this next step on a plastic/newspaper covered table outside. Fill a clean pot one-half full with potting mix. The potting mix need not be the type you used in the bags. Place the pot in a saucer and wet the soil until it runs into the saucer. Indent the soil in the middle. Here's the hard part. Holding the bag over the pot, slip your hand into the bag under the potting soil centered under the plant. Slide the bag from under the soil mass and your hand while keeping the potting soil root ball as intact as possible. Slowly work the root ball and the plant into the pot with the stem centered and at the same angle it was in the bag.

At right: Once the root system is sufficiently developed, as it is here, carefully remove the plant with soil intact. Be sure to cradle the root mass carefully to avoid too much trauma. The roots are delicate at this stage!

Some potting soil will break off, but don't worry. Once the mass is into the pot, add the soil that broke off and gently firm it into place maximizing the plant position without significant root displacement. Make a tag with the info from the bag. Stick the skewer in the side of the pot and hang the tag on it. Later, when you have a solid cane, you may place the tag there, but don't block buds. Return the potted rose in its saucer to the same location you had it while in the bag. Keep water in the saucer to a level where some air can enter the top of the pot drain holes. This keeps the potting soil "sweet." Leave it there about 4 days. Your eyes will tell you when it is happy enough to move. If your weather permits, 50-degree nights or above, move it outside. Start in a bright or dappled, shaded location with a little morning sun and slowly move it during a week or two into full sun. Depending on your climate (I'm in USDA zone 9b, Sunset 17), you may need to move it inside at night for a while (I don't). Your eyes should be the judge of how strong the rose is and how fast it can progress. It ain't rocket science, just judgment and ... Hey! patience.

If you have a lot of gallon pots with cuttings, an old plastic garbage can lid can be a saucer to seven. After a week or so of success in full sun, continued growth, and given warm weather, plant it in the ground or a larger container, just as you would any other potted rose giving regard to the variety, vigor, and its requirements for space and sunlight. Always plant it or place it in a larger container if roots show at the drain holes. Through all this and for the first month in the garden, make sure it gets water every morning. All of this timing depends on watching the rose. Proceed if the rose is growing and gaining strength, back off if it droops or the leaves brown. And, just like teenagers, some try to flower too soon! Pinch off buds until you have a good strong plant, at least 3 months. (You may cheat and leave one bud to see the first bloom. But then, pinch it off!)

Fertilize with liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion at least every other week. I've also found that misting each morning with the fertilizer/baking soda mix definately promotes healthy growth. Stop fertilizing at the beginning of September in cold country; later in warmer climes. Provide extra protection the first winter.Repeat-blooming roses will usually put forth a first bloom in about 8 weeks. Once blooming roses won't bloom until the next year because they bloom on old wood.

Growing roses from cuttings is not hard. Both the process and the results are fascinating and the roses you grow are somehow more yours to enjoy. This paper expands on instructions in the Rose FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.ars.org.

I acknowledge my debt to rosarian Cheryl Netter who first described the baggy method, nurseryman friend Tom Liggett and others who provided added details and insight, and Paul Barden who helped illustrate this article with his great digital photos. These instructions are tailored to my area (USDA zone 9).