Growing things: it’s time to dive into winter

Plus leggy petunias, lily plants and Edmonton’s first aroid show

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QI was given a hardy rose bush as a gift earlier this summer. It’s still in the jar. What’s the best way to hibernate it? When is the best time to plant it?

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A If it were me, I’d plant it in the fall. You can plant up to a few weeks before temperatures hit freezing. It’s a great time of year to get bargains on many plants, and planting during this time is less stressful for plants because of the cooler days. I also like to work in the cooler temperatures.

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Planting at least a few weeks before the freeze will give the plants a chance to establish themselves and begin some root development. Water them like any new plant, but don’t fertilize. You don’t want the growth to go too fast, as this type of growth can be damaged in the winter.

Grouping perennials or shrubs together in pots and covering them with a thick layer of leaves is a good method of protecting plants from the wrath of Old Man Winter.
Grouping perennials or shrubs together in pots and covering them with a thick layer of leaves is a good method of protecting plants from the wrath of Old Man Winter. Photo by Mary Ann Van Berlo /File

Leggy vegetables

Q I wonder why many of my plants have grown to enormous heights and are also so widely distributed. My daughter started them from seed, most of which she had saved from her own plants in previous years. These are petunias (which also gave a much fainter color), marigolds and painted tongue. They also didn’t bloom well into the season. Do you have any wisdom in this regard?

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A There could be several reasons for the tall and broad growth you describe, and it is described as ‘leggy’. That leg length could be due to a lack of light. They should get about six hours of direct sun a day. I’m also wondering what kind of fertilizer you used. One with a lot of nitrogen (first number in the formula) will encourage rapid growth with more leaves than flowers. For flowering plants, a formulation like 5-10-5 or 15-30-15 will work best. In one of the photos you sent, your planter also looked a little busy, which also allows plants to grow and outgrow.

Petunias will also grow better with a little mid-season pruning. Cut the plants back 20 percent from the plant in early July to encourage new growth and blossoms and adjust the height of the other stems as well. Proven Winners has more good information about petunias.

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Planting depth revisited

Q Recently you told another reader that they probably planted their daylily too deep. I did this too, and three iris plants. Unfortunately you didn’t mention whether there was a cure for this. Can we dig up the plants and replant them? And if so, what time of year is best? Do we have to replace the plants otherwise? .

A Don’t you hate it when you ask a question and get a logical answer, but no solution is offered? I know I do and I apologize for the omission.

You can certainly save your daylilies that are planted too deeply. The best time to do this is in the spring when the new shoots are just beginning to appear. Carefully dig around the plant, trying to get as many roots into the ball as possible – the fewer roots you damage or disturb, the better. Add some well-rotted manure or compost and a handful of bone meal into the planting hole. Work the bone meal well into the soil and compost. Check the height by placing the root ball in the hole and make sure that the crown of the plant is 2.5 cm below ground level. If it’s too low, add more organic matter to the bottom of the hole.

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aroid show

As we move into an indoor growing season, some of the more interesting houseplant varieties can be found at Edmonton’s first Aroid and Vivarium show. aroids are of the Araceae family and include common houseplants such as aglaonemas, monsteras, philodendrons, and pothos. Vivariums are much like terrariums, enclosed spaces where plants are grown, except animals such as insects and reptiles are included for observation and research, so expect all of the above to be on display and for sale.

Ira Jones with a praying mantis that she uses for pest control in her aroid nursery.
Ira Jones with a praying mantis that she uses for pest control in her aroid nursery. Photo by Greg Southam /post media
The show will be held at St. Basil’s Cultural Center, 10819 71 Ave., September 24 and 25 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. MKids under five are free and more information and tickets can be found at

Learn more by emailing your questions to, reading past columns in the Life section on, or reading my book Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on Twitter @justaskjerry.

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