What To Do In December

December is a time to relax in rose growing. Your fertilization for the year is done, and spraying your plants with insecticides and fungicides is not necessary as cooler weather is the norm. December brings freezing temperatures early in the morning at times which is good for the plants. You undoubtedly will see leaf drop which is perfectly normal when freezing weather hits.

The only chore that is required is watering your roses. If your plants are established and in the ground, you might not need to water your plants for 4-5 days and possibly longer depending on how wet your soil is and how cold it is outside. As for potted plants, you might have to water daily if roses are in 5-gallon pots or smaller. But for large pots, you can certainly get away with watering every other day or every third day during December.

December is a great month for looking at internet web sites that sell roses and making a wish list.

Mid to late December is the time bare root roses are for sale at Home Depot and Lowes. Several of our Rose Society of Tucson members have had great success growing these roses.

They typically sell extremely inexpensive roses from $7 to $10 each. It is vital that you ONLY purchase grade No. 1 roses. Anything less than grade No. 1 are typically culls and not worth your time. It will say on each rose package what grade plant it is.

If you do purchase bare root roses from Home Depot or Lowes, make sure you purchase them within a few days of them arriving at these stores. Typically they are wrapped in plastic, and they begin to grow inside. If water can’t get inside the plastic when it is applied by workers at these stores, the green canes turn brown and die. 

Once you get these plants home, fill up a 5-gallon bucket with water and put it in a cool, dark place. Then carefully cut the plastic off the plant and take out any material inside such as moist, shredded newspaper or the like. Now place the roots in the water within the 5-gallon bucket up to the bud union (round area where canes grow out of). 

Leave it in there for 24 hours so the plant is allowed to hydrate. The next day, plant the rose in a black, 5-gallon nursery container with holes on the bottom with good potting soil in a shaded area. Before putting the rose in this pot, make sure no roots are broken. If they are, cut them off with sharp pruning shears.

A great mix for your pot is 4 parts of Kellogg’s Patio Plus potting soil, 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite mixed well. The bottom of the bud union should be about 2 inches from the top of the pot. The soil level should be at the bottom of the bud union. Water well several times.

Now place the newly potted rose in a sunny location that receives sun all day long, if possible. Now make a fresh cut near the top of each cane to prevent dieback. Then put a small dab of exterior wood glue (such as Titebond II Premium Wood Glue) over the fresh cuts. Put a label in the pot which has the name of your new rose, and you are done. 

Continue to water your new plant once a day until new growth starts. Don’t even think about fertilizing these new plants until the first flush of blooms. Once that happens, you can put this new rose in the ground or leave it in the pot to grow until the following December. At that time, it must be transplanted into a bigger pot or placed in the ground.

If you decide to keep the rose in the 5-gallon nursery container, care must be taken when hot weather arrives to locate it in an area that only gets morning sun and shade the rest of the day. But that story is for another day.

Enjoy December. Christmas will be here before you know it!