February is the month for roses: planting, transplanting, pruning, and fertilizing.

1. Plant rosebushes in well prepared beds with plenty of compost and mulch, good drainage (never, ever at the bottom of a hill), and plenty of sunshine. The more sunshine, the less blackspot and other rose problems develop.

2. Transplant a bush so the top of the rootball is level with the soil of the bed. At this point, I like to add bone meal to the dirt around the exposed roots to boost growth. As you transplant a rose from one space to another, now is the time to trim back branches and shoots from nearby plants that are growing into your rose’s space.

3. I’m always reminded by Valentine’s day to prune back my existing rose vines and bushes. Cut the bush back to 1/3 – 1/2 its size. Be sure to also trim out woody stems that are blocking good air circulation. Shrub roses, miniatures, and climbers can be pruned to your own preference for size and shape.

4. Fertilize every other month during the growing season with an organic packaged fertilizer. Or like me, just sprinkle on good ‘ol chicken poop from your own chickens. You can also purchase dried chicken and turkey droppings by the bag.

5. As your roses start blooming, dead head the spent blooms and cut back your stem roses down to the first juncture. This promotes bushier, thicker growth and more blooms.

I have whittled down the amount of roses I grow to only the ones that resist disease. BTW, knock out roses are just as susceptible to disease as other varieties. You’re better off getting a cutting or rooting from the side of the road or from a neglected old home whose garden hasn’t been tended for years. If those roses are healthy, then nothing can kill them!

Have fun!


Do you water and fertilize the thorns? Why or why not?

Min ajl el wurood, nasqi al-ashwak (For the sake of the roses, we water the thorns)

Pearls of Wisdom from the Middle East

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