Home & Garden

On the garden hotline

Here are some of the questions the master gardeners fielded this week at the Extension Service. If you have horticulture questions during the winter, you can call the Extension at 316-660-0100.

Do we need to winterize roses?

Some yes, some no. The risk is to grafted roses that can freeze down below the graft when temperatures drop quickly any time during the winter. If they freeze to below the graft, the part that grows back will be from the rootstock, and the blooms will reflect the rootstock and not the variety that you planted.

Putting 6 inches of compost around the base of the plants will give them protection through the winter. Another option is to rake 10 inches of leaves into the roses for the winter. Not mulching in the winter is a gamble that most people take and they usually win, but some winters you will lose.

When selecting new roses, select ones grown on "own root." These are produced from cuttings and are not grafted. If they freeze to the ground, the regrowth will be of the same variety that you planted.

How do you overwinter cannas, elephant ears and gladiolus bulbs?

Dig them soon after the first freeze and cut off the stems near the ground. Shake off the soil. Let dry for about two weeks. Store the canna rhizomes and gladiolus corms loosely in boxes in a cool, dry area. An unheated basement or crawl space that does not freeze will work well. Elephant ear bulbs are dug and allowed to dry for about a week and then are stored in dry peat moss for the winter in a cool location. Some people luck out by leaving gladiolus and cannas in the garden and piling leaves on them as a winter mulch. This works fine in mild winters.