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Climbing rose may need to be retied to support trellis

Tracey FitzgibbonALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q. We planted a climbing rose earlier this season and it’s grown really well. We even had to tie it to the trellis we put in behind it to support a couple of the arms. Our question is what do we need to do for it now through this coming winter? – S.E., Albuquerque

A. Well, I don’t know a lot about climbing roses, so I suggest you contact the Albuquerque Garden Center and ask for contact info for the Albuquerque Rose Society.

I’m confident that they’d be able to offer lots of info as to the care of your new climber.

I’m most concerned with what you used to “tie it to the trellis.” If you used string, skinny twine or even twist-ties I suggest STRONGLY that you get out there and check that the tie isn’t cutting into or holding the “arm” (actually it’s called a cane) too terribly tight.

I’ve seen lots of plants suffer from being supported too tightly to the support system they’re attached to. I suggest a kinder, gentler tie. The legs of a used pair of pantyhose cut into lengthwise strips make great and surprisingly long-lasting ties for projects like this.

If you do determine you need to retie the canes, don’t tie them off in the same location. Give that spot on the cane a break and tie either above or below your original ties. Don’t tie the canes too snugly to the trellis. A little bit of wiggle room is a good thing.

Allowing the canes to move a bit helps keep those canes a bit sturdier. Think of it like exercise. That’s why you don’t want to use anything skinny or sharp when you offer support, it can literally cut into the wood and cause immense amounts of damage.

I do believe you’ll want to water during the dormant season – perhaps twice a month – and be sure to get out and water if it’s going to get really cold and stay dry. The roots will be better protected if they are dampened.

I don’t think you prune a climber now, but that’s why I want you to pick the brain of someone who really knows their roses.

Q. I purchased a new (to me) home this year and now that I’ve settled in I want to plant a tree. Sort of a commemoration of the event. I heard the tail end of an ad that suggested now is a good time to plant a tree. Since it fits so well into my desires I need to know if it is really a good time to plant. – E.H., West Side.

A. You betcha that now is probably the absolutely best time to plant a tree here in this clime!

The only trouble you might have is finding the tree you have your heart set on because the choices might not be the greatest. But if you do find the tree – go for it!

Just remember the rules of planting and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, ahead of the curve tree going into next growing season.

First, make sure you’ve chosen a spot that the tree – at maturity – will fit in. There is nothing much harder on a tree than being expected to grow in too small a space. Remember to look up when choosing the tree spot. Planting too close to eaves of the house or power lines is not a good thing.

When getting ready to plant, dig the hole at least twice as wide as the container the tree comes in, and just a little bit deeper than the container. I suggest you lay a tarp down next to the area so you can keep the excavated soil collected.

Go ahead and mix in some compost and maybe a wee bit of manure to help improve the soil. Next, unpot the tree and inspect the root ball for any curling or circling roots. Gently uncurl them. As you set the tree in the hole, splay them out like fingers off a hand.

Begin to shovel the amended soil back in the hole, tamping it down gently yet firmly as you refill the hole. Once you’ve gotten the hole filled, use any leftover soil to create a moat wall surrounding the tree.

Keep in mind, you don’t want to plant the tree deeper than it was in the container, so if you need to make adjustments, do that as you go.

Once you’ve gotten the tree planted and the moat created, spray the area with water to settle the soil, sort of cementing it in place. Then offer the tree a good, slow soaking of water to fill the moat. Once that initial soaking water has been absorbed, come back and offer a dose of liquid root stimulator, diluted to manufacturer’s recipe.

Voila! You have your commemoration tree!

Water the tree daily for the next ten days and then gradually wean the watering back to once every ten days throughout the dormant period.

Be sure to water your new tree if the temperatures go really cold. It’s that dampness in the soil that’s going to insulate the roots while the tree is settling in this winter. If you don’t water throughout winter, all will be for naught.

So go for it and congratulations on your achievement!

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to