Tag Archive | Landscaping

Curb Appeal: Enhancing the Value of Your Home with Gardening

It’s not just when you put your home on the market that you should think about improving the curb appeal of your home. Of course, that’s the trendy topic of more than a few TV shows, books and blogs, which is a good thing! But, we are proponents of improving curb appeal for your own enjoyment, as well as for the betterment of your neighborhood and community.

An attractive, well-maintained yard and garden is a key part of curb appeal. If you are trying to market your home, the first impression of a house and the surrounding landscape can make a potential buyer take a closer look at the property or immediately move on to the next house. Attractive landscaping can help a house sell days or weeks faster than other houses on the market. It’s estimated that well-maintained trees and gardens can increase a home’s value by as much as 15%.

All homeowners should make outdoor cleaning a priority. Investing a little time and a few dollars can make the outside of your home sparkle. Mow the lawn and rake up leftover leaves or debris. Trim trees and shrubs by removing broken branches and any unsafe, low or overhanging branches. Trim the grass encroaching on the sidewalk and driveway. Tidy up any flowerbeds by cutting a new edge or trimming grass away from the borders and pull all offending weeds. Then add a few bags of mulch around the base of plantings for a nice, clean look.

That’s what we call basic landscape upkeep and if that’s all you have time for, you certainly can stop there but you’re not getting that full 15% of enhanced home value.

Now’s the time to consider a few gardening tasks to really improve the look of your home. Gardening doesn’t have to be a lot of work or take a lot of time. A few shortcuts can create an instant garden. You don’t even have to own a shovel!

Start by adding containers of colorful flowers. They are easy to grow and can be placed in many areas around the house and yard. Put a container by the front door to welcome visitors. If you have a covered porch, add a few hanging baskets. Attach some window boxes to the deck rail or at the base of several key windows.

Enhance an ordinary planting of shrubs by grouping colorful containers in front and around the shrubs to make the area look larger and more attractive.

You’ll find an assortment of pre-planted containers in a variety of plant and color combinations available at the local garden center, home store, supermarket or hardware store. At this time of year, there are beautiful containers of fall flowers such as mums, flowering kale or cabbage, pansies, violas, and more to provide a quick pop of color and character. Simply determine if the container is recommended for sunny areas or shaded spots, then choose whichever matches the conditions where you’ll put the container.  Keep the container watered and remove faded flowers to keep plants blooming.

Looking for something more unique? Design and plant your own containers. Available in a variety of sizes and colors there’s a style of plant container to complement any home. Whether you like plastic or clay, ceramic or wood, there are two simple rules. Select a container that’s large enough for the plants and make sure it has drainage for excess water so plants don’t drown. Then fill the container with a good soilless growing media. For easy maintenance, choose a media that contains a slow-release fertilizer for healthy plant growth.

When deciding which plants to choose, express your creativity by selecting plants or flowers in the colors or combinations you like. If you’re a cook, choose a variety of tasty herbs or mix herbs with flowers and vegetables in the same container. The possibilities are endless. If you need a little inspiration, look at pre-planted containers at retail stores for ideas of pleasing plant combinations.

Some new homeowners who want a larger garden may find that their soil is not the best so an easy solution is to garden in raised beds. They can be quickly made from landscape timbers, lumber, or bricks.  Raised bed kits of wood or recycled plastic can be purchased from garden catalogs and websites. After assembling the frame, simply fill with bags of high-quality soil, compost, and composted manure.  Annual flowers and vegetables such as lettuce and beans  can be grown in a shallow raised bed that is 4-6 inches deep. For perennial flowers and plants such as tomatoes that need to develop a more extensive root system, a bed that is 8-12 inches deep is recommended.

Plants can also provide solutions to some potential homeowner problems. Maybe you’d like some privacy or a screen to hide an unsightly view. A hedge of shrubs is great but can take time to grow and fill in. In the meantime, plant a row of sunflowers from seed or plants. They grow quickly, withstand heat, dry conditions, and provide beautiful flowers. As an extra benefit, the flowers can be cut for attractive bouquets. Do you want to soften the appearance of a chain-link or wire fence? Plant some morning glories or a vegetable such as cucumber, squash, or gourds at the base of the fence. The vines will grow quickly using the fence for support while covering it with leaves and delightful flowers or nourishing vegetables.

These ideas provide all homeowners with easy ways to become involved in gardening. Whether your garden is a hanging basket, a colorful flower border, or a large bed of delicious vegetables, you’ll enhance the value of your home and create a more beautiful living space for everyone to enjoy.


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Taking Your Garden to Rustic Levels: Wildflowers!

I think that wildflowers have to be one of the loveliest gifts on this Earth. Their changing panorama of colors, shapes, sizes and heights provides delight throughout the seasons. Wildflowers can be used anywhere — in the home landscape, they are ideal for creating colorful beds and borders, as well as offering a lower-maintenance alternative for large areas or replacing grass. Wildflowers can be planted to cover large, open areas or assist in the recovery of a landscape that has been damaged or destroyed by the actions of people, a natural disaster, or the spread of invasive plants.

So what exactly makes a flower a ‘wildflower’. It is not an exact term nor is it well defined. Some people say a wildflower is a plant that was not intentionally seeded or planted and grows without cultivation.  Others classify a wildflower as any plant growing without the help of man regardless of the  country of origin. Still others define a wildflower as a plant found in a specific geographic area that was grown from seed or plants also from that area.

Wildflowers and other plants that were growing before European settlement in what we now call the United States, Canada and Mexico are called native plants or indigenous species. Other plants, often referred to as exotics or aliens, were originally brought here from another part of the world. Many exotic species including flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs are among our favorite garden plants. A few, including some wildflowers, have escaped and become established as part of a local environment or naturalized. Some exotic species have even become invasive and are considered noxious weeds that need to be eradicated.

A garden of wildflowers offers benefits to both the gardener and the environment. Once established, properly chosen wildflowers require less maintenance than traditional landscape plantings which can mean less watering, fertilizing, pest control and mowing. Some plants have deep root systems that prevent water run off and soil erosion, and enable them to withstand drought. Their growth also brings earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms to enhance soil health. And colorful blossoms can be arranged into lovely, casual bouquets that brighten the home.

Flowers provide nectar and pollen sources for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, while ripened seeds are a food source for birds and wildlife. Current research suggests that native plants and flowers might be more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers. Even a small area in a garden or landscape planted with wildflowers that bloom at varying times throughout the growing season helps attract and support pollinators.

Many of these beautiful yet hard-working plants are equally at home in garden beds and borders as they are in larger wildflower plantings and restoration projects. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and black-eyed or brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba and R. hirta) are among the popular wildflowers planted by American gardeners, all of which happen to be native to the U.S.

One of the most admired wildflowers is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It is native to the Midwestern prairies and dry, open woods of the Southeast but can be found in gardens from Maine to California because it is fairly adaptable to most types of soil and does well even in dry conditions. Plants flower from late spring to early fall attracting butterflies and bees to the large, purple, daisy-like flowers. After the long-lasting blooms drop their petals, the distinctive seed heads develop and provide food for goldfinches and other birds. (Zones 3-8)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is native to a large part of the country including the Northeast, Midwest and Rocky Mountain region. Also called Bee Balm, the whorls of pink to lilac colored flowers open in summer to attract bees, hummingbirds and a variety of other pollinating insects. It gets the name Wild Bergamot from the aromatic leaves that have a scent reminiscent of the bergamot orange tree of Europe. Monarda had many medicinal uses to the Native Americans. Today the leaves are often used to make tea. Plants do best in dry open areas and woodlands but can grow in moist soils as long as they are well drained. (Zones 3-9)

Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) despite its species name is native to the East and Midwest U.S. as well as eastern Canada. It is one of about 30 species of Columbine found in North America. Columbine is often found in a shady woodland setting though they have a deep taproot that enables them to grow in dry sites. The colorful red and yellow flowers that open in spring and summer are a favorite of hummingbirds. Blue Columbine or Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) has beautiful blue and white flowers and is one of the many columbines found in the western U.S. It is the state flower of Colorado. (Zones 3-9)

New England Aster (Symphyotricum novae-angliae, previously Aster novae-angliae) is a favorite of many gardeners for the beautiful violet-purple flowers that cover the plant in fall. Its native range is from New England all the way west to the Rocky Mountains and as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. Plants grow best in areas with full sun and moist but well-drained soils. Valuable in the garden and any wildflower planting for its late season color, New England aster is also a nectar source for Monarch butterflies as well as attracting native bees and pollinators. (Zones 3-7)

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is perennial in its native California but grown as an annual in colder climates. Spanish explorers who saw the California hillsides covered with the golden orange poppies called the area the Land of Fire. It was introduced into European gardens in the 1830’s. California Poppy has golden-orange, silky, saucer-shaped flowers that open during the day and close at night or on cloudy days. Plants bloom best in the cool weather of spring and fall. In mild climates it will bloom several times per year. In colder climates, it may self-seed in spring and flower again in the fall. California Poppy is the state flower of California. (Zones 8-10)

While some perennial wildflowers adapt to a range of growing conditions, other wildflowers prefer a specific region of the country or very specific environmental conditions. Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) is a delightful treasure with cute, yellow, daisy-like flowers that exude the smell of chocolate in the morning. However, it is native to the dry parts of Kansas, Colorado and south to Arizona into Mexico so it loves hot sun and poor dry soils. Grow it in soil that’s even halfway decent and it gets leggy and flops over. (Zones 5-9)

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) is another much admired wildflower that seems to grow without care in its native environment that ranges throughout North America depending on the species. It derives its name from the striking orange-crimson spikes that appear in spring and resemble a brush dipped in paint. However, Indian Paintbrush can be difficult to grow from seed and establish in the garden. They are considered hemi-parasitic which means they need to grow in close proximity to other wildflowers and grasses. Indian Paintbrush produces roots that attach themselves to a range of plants that grow nearby to obtain some nourishment. Without these host plants, Indian Paintbrush declines and eventually dies. It is a challenge for even experienced gardeners but could surprise you if planted in the right conditions. (Zones 3-9)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pruning Hedges

“How low can I trim my hedges….if it depends on what kind they are can you point me to a good website. We didn’t trim last year….and you can bearly see the siding on my house, the plants are that high. They are a mix of evergreens and deciduous.  Thanks”


Before you start to prune, have your endpoint in mind.  Pruning is one of the essentials in maintaining a landscape, but is one of the least understood of the garden maintenance practices.  A ‘good’ pruning plan is the selective removal of branches without changing the plant’s natural appearance or habit of growth — or, in extreme cases, bring the plant back to the plant’s natural appearance or habit of growth.  Shrubs trimmed into unnatural shapes or sizes for the particular species require more pruning than shrubs pruned to keep their natural shape (think of topiaries and boxwood hedges in a formal English garden).

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should be pruning to improve the health of the shrub by cutting out dead, diseased, broken, or overgrown branches that interfere with new growth.  You want to prune to control the shrub’s size, shape, flower, fruit and colored twig effect.

As you have both deciduous and evergreens, let’s break them down into their respective groups.


The three methods used to prune a shrub hedge for a specific purpose are thinning out, renewal, and heading back or shearing.

By thinning out, a branch or twig is cut off at its point of origin from the parent stem, to a lateral side branch, to a “Y” of a branch junction, or at the ground level.  This method of pruning results in a more open plant and does not stimulate excessive new growth.  Considerable growth can be cut off without changing the plant’s natural appearance or habit of growth.  Plants can be maintained at a given height and spread for years by thinning out.  This method of pruning is best done with hand pruning shears, not hedge shears.  Thinning allows room for growth of side branches. Thin out the oldest and tallest stems first.

By renewal pruning, the oldest branches are gradually removed from an overgrown shrub at the ground level.  It is best to do this over a three-year or longer period, leaving the younger more vigorous branches.  New shoots that develop can be cut back to various lengths by the thinning method to develop into strong branches.

Heading back or shearing refers to cutting back a branch anywhere along the length of a stem.  The cut may be above a bud, below a bud, or it may even leave a stub.  The effect of heading back or shearing is to concentrate vigorous upright new growth below the cut.  This method of pruning is frequently done with hedge shears without regard for the natural form or branching of the plants.  If every branch or twig is headed back, more growth develops than was removed by the pruning.  The natural form of the plant is altered by the extra growth.  Hedges are pruned to a definite size or shape with hedge shears.

Avoid leaving stubs when pruning even a small shoot or twig.  Short stubs will not heal over properly and will eventually provide a source of entry for insects and diseases.  Cuts too far above a bud may destroy the bud by decay or die-back.  Cuts too close to the bud may dry out the bud, especially in winter.  The proper pruning cut should be 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch above the bud, slightly slanted away from the bud.

So when is the best time to prune your hedges?  It is ideal to prune most plants is during the dormant season prior to the start of new growth. Flowering shrubs may be an exception.  Shrubs that bloom in spring (i.e. lilac, forsythia, dogwood, etc.) may be pruned after flowering.  Late flowering shrubs that bloom on wood produced the same year can be pruned before growth starts in the spring.

Some landscape horticulturists believe the effect of the shrub’s structural branching characteristics is more important than its flowering effect in the total landscape design.  Therefore, it may be better to prune all flowering shrubs in early spring before new growth starts.  Some bloom will be sacrificed by this method.  As a botanically-trained horticulturist, I disagree with this; however, either method is recommended depending on this homeowner’s personal preference. One has to determine for himself the time to prune deciduous shrubs.

The tools I recommend for the job are:

~Pruning shears — for branches 1/2 to 3/4 inches in diameter. Twisting shears to cut larger branches will strain and weaken them. The anvil-type of pruning shears is satisfactory for general pruning. However, the scissors or draw-cut type hand shear is preferred for close-cut precision pruning.

~Lopping shears — have long handles and are designed to cut larger branches 3/4 to 2 inches in diameter.

~Pruning saws — have narrow blades, coarse teeth and are designed to cut on the pull stroke. Small curved pruning saws are useful to prune larger shrubs.

~Hedge shears — are used for shearing hedges or formal-shaped plants. Avoid using hedge shears for other pruning purposes.


Pruning is an important maintenance practice for some evergreens. However, pruning can be kept to a minimum by the wise use and proper placement of plant materials in the landscape design. Evergreen plants can be divided into two broad categories: (1) Narrowleaf (needled) evergreens such as pines, junipers and yews; (2) Broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, hollies and box. The narrowleaf evergreens are generally grow more rapidly than broadleaf evegreens, include many tree forms and are commonly grown for their foliage only. Broadleaf evergreens include many shrub forms and are often grown for their flowers and fruit as well as for their foliage.

Why Prune?

Limit the pruning of most evergreens to the removal of dead, diseased and mechanically injured wood and to the maintenance of the natural shape of the plants. Formal effects such as clipped hedges, topiary and espaliers require regular attention and special equipment.

When to Prune:

Dead, diseased and broken wood can be removed at any time of year. The best time for general pruning is in late winter or early spring, immediately before growth resumes. Narrowleaf evergreens may be pruned a second time in June before the new growth has matured. It may be necessary to give particularly fast-growing plants an additional light pruning or two during the growing season. Good judgment must be exercised when pruning flowering evergreens so as not to drastically reduce the amount of next season’s flowering woodÜany pruning should be done as soon after flowering as possible. Severe pruning can usually be avoided if pruning is done annually.

How to Prune:

It is important to have the necessary tools in proper working order for pruning your plants. These tools include a hand pruner, lopping shears, hedge shears and a curved pruning saw. Narrowleaf evergreens are characterized by growth that is either whorled or random (non-whorled). When pruning pines, make cuts just above the needle whorls. Most new lateral growth is stimulated at these points rather than along the stems between the whorls.

In pruning most other needled and broadleaf evergreens, cuts can be made at any point along the branch, but care should be taken not to cut too far back into the older wood, because new growth is not as readily produced from such wood. When selectively pruning, it is a good practice to cut the growth back to a side shoot. Some evergreen species withstand relatively heavy pruning. This is true of such plants as Japanese yew, box and evergreen privet. These plants can be sheared, which involves the uniform removal of new growth to make a plant conform to a prescribed shape. Because shearing encourages the formation of additional lateral growth, a more dense habit of growth is created. The amount and manner of pruning depend to a large extent on the type of plant, its location and the particular tastes of the homeowner.

Pruning Pointers for Specific Plants:

Prune in early spring. Make cuts just above needle whorls. Additional pruning may be done before new growth hardens in June. Pines normally require little pruning.

• Spruces & Firs
Cuts may be made at any point along the younger portions of the branches. The best time to prune spruces and firs is in the early spring. Pruning is necessary to maintain the natural shape of the plants.

•  Juniper, camaecyparis and arborvitae
This group consists of many tree, shrub and prostrate forms. These species can withstand relatively heavy pruning and many may be trained into various forms by shearing. Early spring pruning is best, but additional light pruning later in the season may be necessary.

•  Yew and hemlock
It is preferable to allow these plants to retain their natural form, but both respond well to heavy pruning and shearing. Yews are able to withstand exceptionally severe pruning into the older wood. Early spring is the best time for pruning, although occasional light pruning later in the season may be necessary.

• Rhododendron, azalea, pieris and mountain laurel These plants generally require very little pruning, as they are slow-growing. Old flower clusters should be removed immediately after flowering. Prune out only dead, diseased, weak or wayward branches.

• Box, evergreen privet, barberry and pyracantha
With the exception of box, these species grow rather rapidly. All these plants will stand heavy pruning, which is best done in early spring. Because they are generally quite vigorous, additional trimming during the growing season may be advisable.

•  Hollies
These plants include both tree and shrub forms. American holly may be pruned in December for Christmas greens. Chinese holly is also a source of attractive greens and may be trimmed in the early spring. When pruning American holly, always make the cut at a node, just above a lateral bud. Prune so as to maintain the natural shape of the tree. The shrubby Chinese and Japanese hollies can be more severely pruned and may require some additional light pruning during the growing season.

• Mahonia and leucothoe
These are rather slow-growing plants which require little annual pruning–if pruning is necessary, do it immediately after these plants flower in the spring.


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Getting the Bang for Your Buck! Eight Crops to Jumpstart your Horticultural Business

“What is the best farming crop in terms of high profitability, low maintenance on a less then 10 acres of land?   I was thinking of growing oil palm, but I would like to have some alternatives from you folks.

Second of all, I new to farming, just that i have some empty land hence the interest to grow crops, if you guys know of any materials that could shed some valuable information about farming, let me know.




Growing plants for profit is a great way to turn your gardening skills into serious cash. While most of us immediately think of tomatoes or salad greens, the most profitable plants are specialty crops that are not always found in a home vegetable garden. Many specialty crops can bring as much as $90,000 per acre, and are quite easy to grow.

As a person that is looking down the road to starting my own business, it just so happens that I’ve done a bit of research on this.  There are eight basic crops that would be a great step for you on the road to getting into the market:

1. Bamboo. Landscapers and homeowners are paying as much as $150 each for potted bamboo plants, and many growers are finding it hard to keep up with the demand. Why is bamboo so popular? It’s a versatile plant in the landscape, as it can be used for hedges, screens or as stand-alone “specimen” plants. Bamboo is not just a tropical plant, as many cold-hardy varieties can handle sub-zero winters. Using pots in a bamboo business, it’s possible to grow thousands of dollars worth of profitable plants in a backyard nursery.

2. Flowers. If you are looking for a high-value specialty crop that can produce an income in the first year, take a look at growing flowers for profit. A flower growing business has almost unlimited possibilities, from bulbs to cut flowers to dried flowers – often called “everlastings”, for their long life. It doesn’t cost much to get started growing flowers for profit either – just a few dollars for seeds and supplies. Most small growers find lots of eager buyers at the Saturday markets held in most towns.

3. Ginseng. Nicknamed “green gold”, the value of this plant is in it’s slow growing roots. Asians have valued ginseng for thousands of years as a healing herb and tonic. Even though growing ginseng requires a six year wait to harvest the mature roots, most growers also sell young “rootlets” and seeds for income while waiting for the roots to mature. Over the six year period, growers can make as much as $100,000 on a half-acre plot from seeds, rootlets and mature roots. That’s why ginseng has been prized as a specialty crop since George Washington’s day, when ginseng profits helped finance the Revolutionary war against the British. Ginseng production is only possible in areas with cold winters.

4. Ground Covers. Due to high labor costs and water shortages, ground covers are becoming the sensible, low-maintenance way to landscape. Growers like ground covers too, as they are easy to propagate, grow and sell. Bringing profits of up to $20 per square foot, ground covers are an ideal cash crop for the smaller backyard plant nursery.

5. Herbs. Growing the most popular culinary and medicinal herbs is a great way to start a profitable herb business. The most popular culinary herbs include basil, chives, cilantro and oregano. Medicinal herbs have been widely used for thousands of years, and their popularity continues to grow as people seek natural remedies for their health concerns. Lavender, for example, has dozens of medicinal uses, as well as being a source of essential oils. Lavender is so popular, hundreds of small nurseries grow nothing but lavender plants. So to start your herb business, focus on popular plants.

6. Landscaping Trees and Shrubs. With individual plants bringing as much as $100 in a five gallon pot, many small backyard plant nurseries are enjoying success on a small scale. Those that specialize in unique or hard-to-find tree and shrub varieties can charge premium prices and still sell out each year. The secret to success is finding a “niche” that you enjoy, and then growing the varieties that simply can not be found at your average plant nursery.

7. Mushrooms. For those without space to garden, growing mushrooms for profit can produce a great return in a small space. Exotic mushrooms, such as oyster and shiitake, make sense, as they can be grown indoors without soil. Oyster mushrooms, for example, produce around 25 pounds per square foot of growing space in a year’s time. At the current price of $6 a pound, that’s $15,000 worth of mushrooms from a 10’x10′ space! Exotic mushrooms do not travel well, so small local growers will always have an edge over distant producers. At our local Saturday market, the oyster mushrooms are also the first items to sell out.

8. Ornamental Grasses. Because ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant and low maintenance, landscapers are using more and more of them, as are homeowners. Because there are hundreds of shapes and sizes, they can be used for everything from ground covers to privacy screens. It’s easy to get started growing ornamental grasses, as you simply buy the “mother” plants and divide the root clump into new plants as it grows. Using pots, it’s possible to grow thousands of plants in a small backyard nursery.

Best of all, most specialty crops can be grown without a full-time commitment. If you have a few extra hours a week, then you can be a specialty crop grower.
Before I start to fill you in on the particulars of each crop, think about it.  Once you figure out what you want to do, then we can take the next step of how to get you from there to harvest. 



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Suckered Again by Dr. Huey!

“Dear Plant Doctor,

I have had my Rock n Roll Rose for a few years, but this past summer it started to have 2-in fuschia colored blooms.  They don’t look like the Rock n Roll at all.  What is wrong with my plant.



Dear Virginia,

Sounds like you have been hit by Dr. Huey, a.k.a your rootstock.  My guess is that your Rock & Roll Rose scion died back over the previous winter and your rootstock is now growing.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do for the Rock & Roll Rose.  The only way to have it again is to purchase a new rose.  As for the Dr. Huey rootstock, if you do decide to keep it, it will grow and thrive where you have it.  You may need  to trellis it, as it is a climber.

For more details on why the Dr. Huey rose is going, please see my previous post here and here.




© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rose Varieties for New England States

“Dear Sir, I’d like to know what roses I should grow in Massachusetts.  I expect a response today! ~A.”


Never fear, you will have your response today.  Just don’t assume that a “Sir” is sending it to you!

I recommend that you consider the following types of roses:

  • Species or Wild Roses: look for these roses listed by their Latin name, i.e. R. glauca
  • Old Garden Roses: Alba, Bourbon, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual. (Roses in this category are types that existed before 1867.)
  • Modern Roses: Rugosa, Musk, David Austin English Roses (Roses in this category were introduced after 1867.)

The only other thing is to remember that you want to select roses that will do well at Zone 5 or below.




© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Suckered! What to do with Suckers on your Roses

About a year ago I posted an article on rose tree suckers (https://horticulturetalk.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/rose-tree-suckers/ ).  As I was writing the article, I had no idea that it would be so popular.  To date, I have had over 50,000 hits on this one article.  I guess a lot of you have suckers on your rose trees.

As a horticulturist, I know that roses are one of those plants that you have to say many prayers with when planting.  They die… and easily!  It doesn’t make it any better when your super-premium tea rose is grafted on to a far less superior rootstock (like Dr. Huey).  Winter comes, the tender tea rose scion dies, and next spring you have millions of small rose buds on a fast growing plant and are scratching your head and going, “huh?”

Or maybe your rose didn’t die.  Maybe you just have rose suckers that are coming up because your rose bush is going crazy?

Either way, what are you to do with all these suckers?  Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do take care of these issues:

1.  Identifying if this is the plant you want if the suckers are the same as the main ‘mother’ plant (own root) or identify which of the canes is not a rootstock shoot (grafted).

**NOTE**: What you will have mostly found by this point is that you have a grafted rose that is having suckers rather than a own root rose with suckers.  Why?  Because there is about a 2% chance that an own root rose will sucker.  It’s not impossible, but just means that the rose has gone through some trauma and is trying to overcompensate for it by sending up multiple shoots.

2.  Use clean, sharp equipment.  Have a bucket of bleach and water (1 part bleach to 9 parts water or a 10% bleach solution) nearby so you can clean your tools as you go along and prevent possible cross contamination between individual stems or between different rose bushes.  What I have found to be very handy is to put the solution in an old milk or orange juice jug with a handle.  Cut a portion of the top out with the handle still intact so you can easily dip your tools in.  (And just make sure you don’t splash yourself or else your clothes will be a bit white!)

3.  For rose trees or roses that have been trained with a relatively bare stem near the ground that is having small suckers, cut the suckers off at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch above outward-facing bud.  The cut should slant away from the bud.

4.  Remove all thin, weak canes that are smaller than a pencil in diameter.

5.  For suckers that are coming up out of the ground (grafted mostly, but also for that 2% of own root), remove the growth below the soil surface. The best way is to dig down to the root where the sucker is originating and tear it off where it emerges. Cutting suckers off only encourages regrowth of several suckers where there once was one.

6.  After making cuts, it is suggested to seal the ends of the cuts to prevent the entry of cane borers. White glue works well (I use Elmer’s School Glue) as it will keep it sealed until the wound heals itself, but washes off once a good rainstorm comes.  If a precipitation event occurs too soon (within 24 hours of pruning), DO NOT reseal it, as you will now be trapping bacteria or fungal spores in that area (from the rainwater) and making a perfect habitat for their growth and destruction.




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