QUESTION: "We have a new home (2 years old) and I have Knockout roses
across the front of the house. Some have grown quite bushy and, not
being a gardener, I am uncertain when or if I should prune them. If
so, do I prune at a slant or what? They have been absolutely
beautiful. Also, I have not "deadheaded" them but wonder if I should.
Thanks for any advice you can give me." - Beth Haynie
ANSWER: First of all, it is not necessary to prune roses at a slant.
Pruning comes down to a matter of personal taste and what you find
aesthetically pleasing to look at. If you feel you need more
uniformity and want them all about the same then you may need to
prune. If you prefer a wilder, more natural look, some slight trimming
could be all you need to do.
Deadheading refers to pinching off spent flowers to force the growth
of new blooms. The deadheading process fools the plant into believing
that its reproductive cycle is not yet complete, so it compensates by
producing additional blooms and thus the seeds that accompany them.
The Knockout rose was introduced in 2000 and became an immediate
favorite due to its hardiness (in USDA zones 4 - 9) and its
exceptional disease resistance, blooming from spring to frost. The
Rainbow Knockout is one of my favorite varieties.
QUESTION: "I am not able to work in my yard during the hot weather so
therefore my yard is a MESS! Weeds, I know, can be cut down anytime
and I have a ton of them. But I have Rose of Sharon to be cut and
other bushes (I am not quite sure of their names) that need to be
trimmed. So is spring or fall the best time to do this?" - Linda
ANSWER: Fall is here and what a time to be outside! Weeds can usually
wait, but when they put on flowers, they should be clipped or pulled
off as soon as possible because they will produce seed and spread all
over for germination next year.
If you aren't sure what the shrub varieties are, the rule on spring
and summer flowering shrubs is to prune them after their blooming
cycle. Generally, spring and early summer flowering shrubs will set
their buds for next season by mid summer. If you prune those during
fall/winter, you will lose flowering for the following year. Rose of
Sharon will bloom throughout the summer season and blooms best on new
wood, so you can prune it at any time.
QUESTION: "I'm trying to develop a sloping southeast facing rock
garden in a full sun area. The soil drains well because of the slope.
It is about a 45 degree angle. It is anchored by rocks with planting
spaces in between.
I formerly had St. John's Wort and coneflowers growing in this area.
While they seemed to grow well and seemed to be shunned by deer, still
I wasn't satisfied because neither spread. The St. John's Wort did not
make a significant enough statement with either the tiny blooms or
with the less than luxuriant foliage. The coneflowers may have been
the wrong sort as they had small blooms with small rounded cones and
didn't show up well.
What I think I need is a ground cover to start over with. Do you have
any recommendations for this sunny, deer-prone, sloping rock garden as
to groundcover to spread among the rocks on the full sun slope?" - E.
ANSWER: you could go with any number of ground covers but the ones
that I would choose for the area would be Dragon Red sedum, Vinca or
Periwinkle and Green Sheen pachysandra. Spread them out across the
area and they will eventually come together. You could also mix in
some creeping thyme which we have amongst our plantings around rocks
and such. You might want to add some of the low growing ornamental
grasses for texture, easy maintenance, and winter interest.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org