Wally asks, when is the recommended time to transplant roses?
We are redoing our garden and need to transplant several of our favorite rose bushes before the major construction begins.
How far back can I safely prune the bushes? Any other planting tips would be appreciated.
The best and safest time to transplant is during their dormant/resting period after their leaves have fallen. Dormancy may begin at the end of December and can continue through February as long as you do not see the roses vigorously pushing out new growth and coming out of dormancy.
If the rose leaves have not fallen by January (due to our late warm weather conditions), it is perfectly acceptable to help things along by removing all the remaining leaves and forcing dormancy.
Prune the bushes back by one-half, keeping in mind the importance of pruning to an outside bud thus forming an open vase shape. If you decide to prune back the roses a little more drastically, it shouldn't be a problem.
Also remove any dead canes and those pesky canes crossing over each other. Obviously, transplanting a smaller pruned rose bush will help prevent being stuck by the sharp thorns.
Before digging up the individual pruned roses, thoroughly prepare the new planting site. Carefully dig up the roses, wash the soil off of the root ball with a steady spray of water and inspect the exposed roots for any damaged or unhealthy appearing areas.
This is a perfect time to do some minor root pruning by shortening them (say, by an inch, more or less) and removing those that appear damaged or diseased. Root pruning will stimulate new root growth and make the transplanting process easier not having to deal with long unwieldy roots tucked into a planting hole.
Lastly, water the transplants thoroughly once they are positioned in their new planting holes, add more soil as needed and water them again, thus eliminating any air holes surrounding the roots.
Mulching the disturbed soil around each rose will help retain soil moisture and also prevent future compaction.
Len asks: how should I prune my Dad's Genoa fig tree? He is not able to do his own pruning for awhile and I thought I would surprise him but I don't want to "mess up" next year's crop production.
The Genoa is a white fig that produces the best fruit on current season's wood, meaning those new branches that are produced and growing after dormant pruning. Knowing this information about the Genoa figs fruit production aids in proper pruning soyou won't "mess up" the pruning job.
So, cut the existing branches back heavily during the dormant period (after leaf drop) to about a half-inch above the second bud, or leaf scar, from the base of the branch where it connects to the trunk of the tree.
If you are unsure, check out a book on fruit pruning from your local library or go online if you are computer savvy. One of my favorite resources is an old paperback book originally published in 1944. The title is "How to Prune Fruit Trees," written by R. Sanford Martin.
As an additional bit of information, keep all lawn away from the base of the tree and away from feeder roots. Turf has a tendency to deprive the fruit of its full amount of sugar. In most cases, figs are not grown in turf; however, it is equally important to keep the area under the tree clear, weed-free, cultivated and mulched.