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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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Transplanting Wild Roses

We found some wild roses growing in our horse pasture and would like to transplant them to our home. For roses generally, we read that the best time to transplant is November - February. Would you have any advice?

Wild roses are the same as their domesticated cousins in that respect. Transplant them during the winter dormant season. Select a sunny location with good drainage. Add organic humus, like well rotted manure and/or compost.

As you know, wild roses will thrive on a certain amount of neglect. That's why they are doing so well in your pasture.

Shaping Rhododendrons

We have a number of rhodies throughout our yard (East King County). Most are blooming very well. So well in fact that the blossoms have weighed down the branches all the way to the ground. My husband thinks not clipping the blooms (dead heading) like I usually do is the answer. I want to prune the bottom branches to promote vertical growth and still clip the dead blossoms to promote flowers. What do you recommend to promote more of a tree like plant? And if pruning is the answer, can I do it now?

The best time to lightly prune rhododrendrons is after they finish flowering. Pruning will generally result in loss of flowers for one year.

There are approximately thirty thousand varieties of rhododendron, so some have a very bushy growth habit and seldom need pruning, while others tend to grow lanky and need to be shaped in order to keep them compact.

I favor removal of the dead flowers, as it makes the plants look much neater and aids in additional flowering for the next year.

Shortening the bottom branches may help accomplish the effect you are aiming for.

See Also: Pruning Damaged Rhodys

Using an Acid Type Fertilizer

I want to make up a list of all the plants in my garden that need acid fertilized (Miracid by Miracle-Gro), but I can't find an extensive list. The fert. box does not have one. I've looked up plants in Sunsets' Western Garden book and the listings don't always say what fertilizer to use. Do you know of any literature that gives this information.

No, I do not know of such a list. As a rule of thumb, evergreens are acid loving, so are fertilized with rhododendron or acid type fertilizers. There are exceptions; probably the most notable is the Daphne family...they like a little lime.

Although most deciduous shrubs and trees like a rose or all-purpose type garden fertilizer, blueberries like acid type soil. So you can see, there are exceptions on both sides.

Rhododendrons Not Blooming

I planted several Rhodies under an evergreen tree that I had and was puzzled when they didn't bloom. In reading back through your previously answered questions, I see now that they are probably not getting enough sun. I'd like to move them to other areas of my yard. When should I transplant them?

'The number 1 reason why rhododendrons do not bloom is that they are planted too deeply. Often, they start out at the correct depth, but because of loose soil and the weight of the plant and root ball they tend to settle deeper into the soil. Then, often the homeowner comes along and spreads mulch (bark or sawdust) over the root ball. The rhody ends up too deep and will grow fine, but will not bloom.  If that is the case, simply remove the mulch or excess soil.

If you would still like to move your rhodys, the best time to transplant them is during the winter dormant season, November through February.

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