Wait until next spring to prune rosebush

I live near Montrose, and I am wondering when I should prune my roses. Many of the bushes in my rose garden are several years old and some of them are Floribunda roses.

Should I just prune the dead canes out this fall? I want my bushes to be full and not gangly. We have had several days of temperatures below 30 degrees. I read your column every Saturday, and although some things don’t apply to me, I learn a lot from your advice.

— Cathy

The time I like to prune roses is early in the spring. Roses can be somewhat stupid; we don’t like to prune them too early as this can stimulate soft new growth too early in the spring and this be damaged by a late frost.

In the Grand Valley, I usually recommend pruning about the first of April. Down your way, I’d do it a week or two later than that.

If all you’re wanting to do is remove dead growth, that could be done anytime. I like to remove dead growth on any plant as soon as I notice it since that can potentially be an entry point for insect or a place for disease problems to get started.

I would cut the dead growth out right now, but don’t cut into live growth if you can help it. Otherwise, wait until next spring.

I am looking for an Arapaho red crepe tree and have found them online, but wanted to know if you or anyone in town has them. I really want to pick it up locally.

— Rebecca

First of all, thank you for choosing to shop locally. Keeping our money in western Colorado helps our economy so much.

Anyone who has lived in the South or Southwest knows how stunning crepe myrtles can be.

However, I would offer one word of caution. Most crepe myrtle (including Arapaho) are not considered winter hardy here. They are only hardy to about 5 or 10 degrees above zero.

We have some winters they would survive, but we certainly get winters that could get colder.

There are three varieties I can get my hands on that are a bit hardier. Pecos, Zuni and Acoma are supposedly hardy to minus 5 degrees.

I have had a Zuni in my yard for about eight years now. It freezes down to the ground every year and resprouts from there. I treat it kind of like a “woody perennial” where I cut it back every spring. It gets up to about 
3 feet tall and gives us spectacular blooms from mid- to late summer.

 

Is the butterfly bush Royal Red (Buddleia davidii) too tender for zone four?

— Pat in Basalt

Most references list Buddleia davidii hardy to zone five (average lowest temperature of minus 10 to minus 20 degrees), which is a zone warmer than you.

I’d expect you would get them through the winter just fine if you mulch them in a bit after the ground starts to freeze in October or November.

Pile a 12–inch to 18-inch-deep cone of coarse, fluffy organic material like chopped leaves, straw or cedar mulch over the plant.
The tops of the branches might die back over the winter but that really wouldn’t be much of a loss as I recommend you cut the butterfly bush back to 6 to 12 inches early each spring anyway.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. 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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