Now’s not the time to move 
your perennial

I’m a novice gardener and planted my “pre-planned garden” plants too close, and now they are overshadowing each other. Is there a way to safely transplant the plants (Jupiter’s beard, blue catmint and moonshine yarrow) that need to be thinned?

— Moira

This is really not a good time to transplant perennials. They’re growing very actively right now and disturbing them can result in the loss of the plant.

However, if you’re in danger of losing some anyway because they’re being overrun by another plant, go ahead and try it. You may be able to save them.

If you feel you do need to transplant anything now, be sure to get a nice big root ball around the plant and get it into the ground immediately (have its new hole already dug out and nearby). After it’s planted, soaking it in with a solution of Fertilome Root Stimulator will help improve its chances of survival.

If they’re OK where they are for now, wait until late September or October to transplant them when they’ll have a much better chance of success.

The same planting rules apply, but since the plants are entering a dormant stage, they’re more likely to thrive in their new environment.

I have put a 20-foot-long raised flower bed that extends out about four feet on the west side of my home. It is a dry bed and the soil is very poor. I’m wondering what would be the best low-growing flowers or bushes for this spot? I plan to mulch it.

— Lilian

Without knowing exactly how low you’d prefer everything to grow, I’ve come up with a few suggestions that may help. Some plants, such as butterfly bush and Russian sage, can get four-plus feet tall, But, of course, they won’t grow as tall with less water. Here are some suggestions:

Woody shrubs: Gro-Low fragrant sumac, Pawnee Buttes western sand cherry, butterfly bush, Colorado manzanita, Parry’s agave, Apache plume, Mormon tea, blue Mormon tea, rabbitbrush, fringed sage, broom snakeweed, Harriman yucca and soapweed yucca.

Perennials: chocolate flower, Angelita daisy, desert evening primrose, desert four o’clock, desert globe mallow, desert marigold, paper flower, firecracker penstemon, blanket flower, Maxmillian daisy, blue flax, gaura, ice plant, hyssop, poppy mallow, Russian sage and yarrow.

Almost all of these will require some supplemental irrigation. How much and how often you need to water will depend on the amount of soil preparation you do, mulch layers, the weather, the exposure of the bed, etc. Also, some of the above plants will get along with less water and some will need more. I’d guess that you’ll need to give the beds a deep soaking once a week to twice a month once the plants are established.


Some large, overgrown roses are growing up against our house where I need to paint. I’ll have to cut them back for access, and am not sure what to do. If I cut them back, how much should I cut, and will they survive?

— Steve

Go ahead and cut your roses back to paint your house. It’s a bit late to be cutting them back now, but it won’t hurt the plant significantly.

Cut them back somewhere in the neighborhood of 18–30 inches from the ground. While you’re at it, try to “renovate” the plant by removing old, large canes in favor of younger, more vigorous canes. The younger canes will be fuller, grow more quickly and flower better than the older, worn-out canes.

After pruning them back, be sure to water them regularly and fertilize them lightly with a good rose fertilizer.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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