Do you still have bare-root trees or roses waiting to be planted? With so much winter rain, planting got put on hold for a lot of bare-root purchases. But it’s time to get those naked-looking plants into soil – either in the ground or pots.
Bare-root roses and trees often are dug up from their growing fields in September or October, then refrigerated until shipping. Before replanting, soak the roots – and, if possible, the whole plant – in water for 24 hours (or more) to help rehydrate its system after months in cold storage.
Some bare-root shrubs – particularly roses – may need some extra TLC to get growing and break dormancy. The secret is peat moss. It rehydrates canes and draws out new growth. (This method also can be used to save a bush that looks almost dead.)
You’ll need enough peat moss to cover the whole rosebush and a sturdy brown paper grocery bag, cardboard box or 5-gallon peat pot (such as those used in nurseries). Whatever container you pick, it needs to be deep enough to cover most of the bush.
Soak the peat moss in lukewarm water until it’s thoroughly wet. Water the bush, too, either planted in a 5-gallon pot or in the ground. Cut the bottom out of the bag, box or peat pot and slide it over the rosebush. (You may also make a slice down one side of this container and tape it back together once in place.) Pack the damp peat moss around the canes (or branches) of the bush until the container is full. The tops of the canes may barely peek out of the top of their peat moss mound, or the bush may be entirely submerged.
Keep the peat moss moist by occasionally misting or gently spraying it with water. (This water will also irrigate the bush.) After four to six weeks, new green growth will start to poke through the peat moss. After that growth appears, gently remove the bag, box or pot. The peat moss will fall away from the bush and become its mulch.
Elsewhere in the garden this week:
▪ Feed fruit trees before flowers open with a fertilizer specifically labeled for fruit trees.
▪ Feed other mature trees and shrubs as spring growth appears.
▪ Feed strawberries and asparagus.
▪ Feed spring-blooming plants and established perennials.
▪ Plant seed for beets, carrots, celeriac, celery, collards, endive, fennel, jicama, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
▪ Start seed for summer and winter squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.
▪ For spring and summer flowers, plant seed for aster, cornflower, cosmos, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana, periwinkle, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon and verbena.