By Brent Gray
Rose plants should go into the winter in a vigorous state for best survival–-in particular, those roses that were planted this past spring. Plants that have been stressed by drought or lack of fertility, or those defoliated by pests, are more inclined to succumb to cold than robust plants.
Plants need water during dry spells, even during the winter months. Roses should be grown in a well-drained location. These plants will not tolerate “wet feet,” especially during the winter months. There is still time to move and plant roses. Water them thoroughly and mulch to keep them from freezing.
Own-rooted roses are varieties grown from cuttings. Some old garden roses are typically grown on their own roots, as are some modern roses. Own-rooted roses offer an advantage in the areas where winters are very cold. If the top is lost to winter cold, but the rootstock survives, the variety won’t be lost. New growth will arise from the roots. When you lose the top of a grafted rose, what’s left is a rootstock that is durable but not particularly beautiful. Roses that form hips (fruit) are signaling the onset of dormancy. Some rose shrubs do not form fruit.
It’s not necessary to prune back roses to make them attractive in winter. If you do this before a freeze, you may awaken dormant buds, which will produce new growth that will only be killed by freezing temperatures. Even gardeners along the warmer coast should wait until January (at the earliest) to begin pruning roses. If a rose’s height will put it in peril of being damaged by strong winters winds, prune back only after a freeze.
Roller coaster temperatures induce bolting in many cool season crops. Watch for signs of flower stalk development and harvest or remove the plant since the energy produced will go toward flowers rather than leaves or fruit once the reproductive phase starts.
Late November is time to plant red garden radishes for Christmas entertaining. This quick growing plants can be sown where your warm season plants have been removed.
The seed catalogues are starting to come in the mail and there are, as always, many new varieties to try. All American winners for 2014 include pepper, green bean, tomato and ‘Cinderella’s Carriage pumpkin.
Dr. Snyder at the Truck Crops Branch station evaluates All American selections and helps determine their adaptation to Mississippi conditions. ‘Mama Mia Giallo’ is an elongated yellow bell pepper on a compact plant. ‘Mascotte’ is a green bean developed for container gardening that also does well in an outdoor garden. ‘Fantastico’ is a red grape tomato with high yield potential. ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ is a beefstake tomato with a sweet taste. ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ is a flattened pumpkin like the Disney cartoon with improved reddish coloring. Look for them on seed racks and on the web.