: I have read your very impressive answers in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and I am hoping you can answer a question my wife has. Three weeks ago she received a single rose at a dinner event. It is still in bloom and she wants to root this super rose and plant it. How do we go about it?
A: Rose cuttings need to come from the woody stem so if the stem is long enough you may be able to get it to root. At each place where leaves are attached is called a node. The node is the part of the stem that typically can produce leaves, buds or roots.
You need at least two or three nodes per cutting. Use sterilized potting soil and a sterilized container or peat pot. Fill the peat pot with potting soil so that the soil is 1/2 inch lower than the lip of the container or pot. Remove the flower. Recut the stem so that it is cut 1/4 inch below the bottom node.
Remove all leaves from the bottom of the cut stem but leave the top leaves. Stick the stem into the soil so that at least one-third of the stem is in the soil. There should be no leaves in the soil to rot. You should have a stem sticking out of the container with leaves on the top most part but one-third of the stem into the soil.
Place the planted stem in a bright place but not in direct sun. Cover the pot with a large glass container or plastic bag to trap moisture and keep the humidity high while it is trying to set roots. You can use rooting hormone if you like, but it is not necessary.
An alternative way is to root it in fresh water in a glass. The water has to be fresh every day and the glass sterilized each time it is filled. However, roots produced in water are different from roots produced in soil and stems rooted in water frequently are difficult to replant into soil. The cutting is prepared the same way.
Frequently, roses given as cut flowers are greenhouse-grown and are varieties selected for greenhouse production. There is a good chance it may not do well outside in our environment. Greenhouse roses grown for cut flowers often have little or no scent.
More information about taking rose cuttings and growing them will be included in my next horticulture newsletter. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive a copy.
Q: I have a raised bed on the east-facing side of my house in Sun City Aliante. I put in three varieties of pepper plants this past summer. All of them got sunburned fruit during the summer months. Do I need to put a shade cloth over the plants next summer? Also, what varieties of tomatoes seem to do the best here?
A: You do not have to put shade cloth on the peppers, but they will need good foliage cover over the fruits to prevent sunburn. When you are growing annuals like that, you should prepare the soil with lots of compost and apply fertilizer once the fruits set.
The problem with shade cloth is that if you provide too much shade, you may cause the plants to become leggy with little or no fruit set or the fruits may drop before they develop. If you going to use shade cloth, try to use no more than about 30 percent to 40 percent shade on the plants or protect them from late afternoon sun.
It will be more of a challenge to keep the sun off of sweet peppers due to their large size. You will need good sized, bushy plants to provide the right kind of shade and prevent burn.
If you are new to growing tomatoes here, try the cherry tomatoes, grape or pears. You will have the most success with those. If you want to be more adventurous move on to varieties like Early Girl, Ace, Patio, Jet Star and Celebrity, to name a few. Some people have had luck with some of the beefsteak types but I would stay under 70 days to maturity if you can. I have had some luck with heirlooms like Green Zebra, Caspian Pink, Black From Tula and even Brandywine, but these are for experienced gardeners. They do not produce like the hybrids I mentioned earlier.
Start with the easy ones first. Make sure the soil is well-prepared with compost. Get these plants in the ground as early as you can, some time around mid-February. Protect them from freezes with hot caps, Wall O’ Water and the like until all danger of frost has passed, usually the end of the first week in March. Also, warm up the soil with clear plastic prior to planting. The soil temperature needs to be in the 70s when planting.
Temperatures depend on your microclimate. The older homes downtown are generally warmer than the newer developments on the fringe of the desert.
Bob Morris is an associate professor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Direct gardening questions to the master gardener hot line at 257-5555 or contact Morris by e-mail at email@example.com.