•This is a great time to plant bare root roses. Select a quality plant with at least 3‐5 strong canes.
n Prune hybrid tea roses now, removing old canes and lowering plant to a height of 12‐15 inches. To care for rose bushes now, apply a fertilizer heavy in potassium. Prune rose canes back to about 6‐10 inches. Apply a drop of white glue to the end of fresh cut canes to prevent borers. Apply a dormant spray of lime‐sulfur and dormant oil before active growth appears. Clean up rose beds, discard old foliage, pieces of canes, and remove old mulch and weeds. Re‐apply a fresh layer of mulch to rose beds.
•Winter is a good time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs and shrubs that don’t bloom in the spring. It allows you to view the trunk and branches when making your cuts.
• Change plant light bulbs over seedlings, as older bulbs do not give off as much light.
• Continue to fertilize pansies and other winter annuals with fertilizer high in nitrate nitrogen.
• Prune clumps of ornamental grass before new growth appears. Tie large clumps with rope; cut with a hedge trimmer.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
• Remember that vegetable seeds have a short life and usually will not be good after a year or two. This includes sweet corn, onion, okra, beans, parsnip, and peppers.
• Consider the family vacation when planning your garden. Choose planting dates and varieties so your garden won’t be ready for a full harvest while you are away.
• Peaches grow best when maintained with an open center (no central leader). Keep 3 or 4 strong, scaffold branches evenly distributed around the trunk. Limbs that branch out at a 60 degree angle are preferred. Spreaders can be used to widen narrow crotch angles.
• Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins when temps maintain at 45 degrees. For disease and insect control, cut out dead wood and dispose of the prunings. Disinfect pruners after each cut.
• Before working an area in the garden for early spring planting, check the soil. It should be dry enough to crumble in your hands, so that you don’t compact the soil while working it.
• Don’t start your vegetable plants indoors too early. Six weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for the fast growing species such as cabbage. Eight weeks allows enough time for the slow growing types such as tomatoes and peppers.
• Handle seed packets with care. Rubbing the outside to determine how many seeds are inside can break the protective seed coats, thereby reducing germination.
• To make old hay and manure weed‐free, spread on the soil in late winter, water well, and cover with black plastic. Weed seeds will sprout after a few days or warm weather, and then will be killed by frost and lack of daylight.
• Clean and disinfect clay pots by soaking them in a solution of 1 part liquid bleach and 10 parts water. Scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly to remove all bleach residue. This will have your containers ready to plant with spring annuals.
Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website, www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee ; or contact the Cherokee County Extension Office, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 30114, 770-721-7803. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Follow Cherokee County Master Gardeners on facebook at www.facebook.com/cherokeemastergardeners for gardening tips as well as upcoming seminars.