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Wait to prune roses, but give figs a trim

Tracey FitzgibbonALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q. There is a lot of new growth on my roses – is this the time to prune them? Most resources say to wait, but the bushes seem unaware that it is January! – D.W., Albuquerque

A. Please wait! I’ve said it before – and here I am again – roses are hormonal!

Yours must be planted in a lovely, sheltered spot where they are protected and perhaps are offered some radiant heat from a wall or the house.

That’s not a bad thing, but be sure that you monitor them during growing season to be sure they aren’t getting cooked.

Wait until mid-March before pruning your rose bushes.

Okay, here’s why I agree with your resources recommending waiting to prune. Roses are notorious for jumping the gun when deciding to push new growth. Especially if they are sheltered.

So, if you go ahead and prune now, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be several more bouts of what I call “wicked weather.” If you’ve gone ahead and pruned, your roses could be harmed severely. The growth they are wearing now is fairly used to the weather we are in now, and remember that January is usually our coldest month.

But let’s say you went ahead and pruned. Soon those roses be flush with really, really, tender new growth because your hormonal rose got overexcited and because you pruned, they pushed out too much extra-tender new growth, too soon.

The growth on the roses now should be considered sacrificial, so to speak. Allow the growth that the rose is putting out naturally – the growth that might and could very well be maimed by some yet to come wicked weather – to be a protection of sorts.

Historically, the date for rose pruning is mid-March. I’d be hard-pressed to suggest getting out there much before then.

Meanwhile, keep the roses watered every two weeks, remembering to not be watering from overhead. And if it’s going to get really cold, and you haven’t watered lately, aim to give everything a drink beforehand. It’ll help insulate the plants.

So, please wait to prune your roses.

Also, remember not to touch the spring blooming shrubs either. Plants like forsythia and lilac grow blooms on the wood they made last year, so pruned now you won’t get any flowers. Park the pruners for now unless it’s a branch that is damaged. Yes, you could tidy up broken or damaged branches now. Just be patient because like you said, it’s January.

Q. I am in search of directions to when and how to trim a patio garden fig tree in winter – or if I should just leave it alone until spring. – B.B., Albuquerque

A. What I know about fig trees wouldn’t fill a thimble.

I know I like “Newtons” especially dunked in a cuppa hot tea, but that’s it.

So on that note, I went to the internet. I found an article on The Spruce website,, about pruning fig trees. It is a very informative article, so give it a go.

Now, contrary to the question about pruning roses, the article says that figs are best pruned in the winter because they tend to “bleed” a lot when pruned at the wrong time of year. To me it just seems very early.

But like I said, I don’t know about tending figs. I suggest you read the article to see if it guides you in your quest for pruning answers.

Also, you could try calling any of our nurseries to see if they might have a “fig expert” on staff to guide you. Usually, I’d also suggest getting hold of the Master Gardeners, but their service doesn’t “wake up” until March.

So, really I’m at a loss. But I wish you and your fig happy hunting finding the info you are wanting. Happy New Year!

Dear readers: Remember all you Christmas tree recycling procrastinators out there in the Albuquerque metro area, today is the last day to partake of the free – and most importantly – best thing to do with the tree that graced your home through the holidays. Get it treecycled and help our community while you’re at it. Thanks.

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


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