Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Long Canes of Climbing Roses Need Only a Gentle Trim Now

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Long Canes of Climbing Roses Need Only a Gentle Trim Now

Article excerpt

Q: I need help with climbing roses. I was told I need to cut them back every year. Should I cut all the runners? How much? I hope I'm not too late in taking care of them.

A: The only pruning that should be done on climbing roses at this time of year is to shorten extremely long canes. Canes are the shoots that originate at the soil line. Keep in mind, however, that the longer the canes, the more flowers there will be. The flowers on climbers are borne on the side shoots that grow off these canes. These side shoots are referred to as laterals.

The laterals can be cut back every year, but this should be done only in spring as the buds are swelling. At that time, shorten the length of each lateral to about 3 to 6 inches, leaving just three or four buds on each.

On most varieties of climbers, the best flowering occurs on 2- and 3-year-old canes. As the canes age, they darken in color from green to tan and eventually change to dark brown. Every year or so, remove a few of the oldest, dark brown canes and allow the same number of new shoots to grow and take their place. This should be done in early summer, immediately after flowering.

Q: I have a beautiful, big Boston fern and an asparagus fern. How cold can it get before they are injured by frost? We have a new glassed-in sun porch and plan on keeping them there, but this is the first winter, so we don't know how cold the porch will get.

A: Both the Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis) and the asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengeri) are surprisingly cold-tolerant, and their roots will survive temperatures near freezing.

However, to keep their foliage looking its best, maintain night temperatures above 40 to 45 degrees. Both of these plants can be gradually acclimated to cool conditions and should thrive on your sun porch.

Use a maximum-minimum thermometer to monitor temperature changes. These thermometers register current temperature as well as high and low readings and are available at reasonable cost from most garden centers. An eastern exposure, with some direct morning sun, would be best for your Boston fern. The asparagus fern can tolerate a southern exposure throughout the winter.

Q: Can I still plant my mums outdoors? …

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