Sid Mullis: Knockout roses are easy to grow

What to do about drooping, yellow magnolia leaves

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The knockout roses have been absolutely stunning this spring. Everywhere I go, I see bushes loaded with beautiful red or pink flowers.

A bud is seen on a Magnolia tree. Even though magnolias are evergreens, they can have yellow and drooping leaves during the spring, which is normal.    SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
A bud is seen on a Magnolia tree. Even though magnolias are evergreens, they can have yellow and drooping leaves during the spring, which is normal.

If your landscape is missing out on these fantastic bloomers, make haste to the garden center and get some.

As most every homeowner knows, when knockout roses hit the market several years ago, they revolutionized the rose industry and for good reason – they are practically maintenance-free, and they bloom profusely from spring until frost. What more could you ask from plants in your landscape?

One of the biggest advantages of knockout roses is they are not susceptible to the dreaded black spot disease that has taken down so many of our traditional roses – hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda. To keep these roses disease-free, you have to follow a rigid spray program that the typical homeowner is not willing to follow.

The only disadvantage of knockouts when compared to our traditional roses is they have more thorns and are not as good for cut flowers. You can use them for cut flowers, but they don’t last as long. If you cut them in the bud stage they will hold up for a few days.

Since knockouts are so maintenance-free, you can almost plant them and forget them, but let me go over some of the ideal cultural requirements and maintenance tips.

The pH of the soil should be around 6.5, so you might need to add lime to the planting bed. Of course, the only way to know for sure whether you need to lime or not is to take a soil sample.

Knockouts are so tough and indestructible that you can basically plant them any time. Pick a well-drained site with good air movement.

They need a sunny location, at least six hours of full sun, although I have seen some growing in less. There are a few less blooms when you have them in an area with less than six hours of sun. Plant them at the same depth as they grew in the container.

Consider the mature size when spacing plants. Knockouts can get large. They are advertised to be 4- to 5-feet tall with an equal spread.

Plants can be hard to maintain at this height and spread. Space them about 6 feet apart. This can look far apart when first planted but they will quickly fill the space provided.

Mulch your roses with pine straw, bark chips or any other organic mulch to help conserve moisture and to cut down on weeds.

If the roses do get too large for the area you have them, prune them back as far as you want, ideally in February. But you can prune them most anytime during the growing season, as much as you need to, keeping the plants the appropriate size for their location.

Knockouts don’t have to be deadheaded like traditional roses, but I think it helps speed up the reblooming process.

Knockouts are heavy feeders. A slow-release fertilizer is a great way to keep them fed.

Use a three- to six-month slow-release fertilizer at the rate of one to two pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet or one teaspoon per foot of height for individual plants. When using a regular all-purpose fertilizer, make applications every four to six weeks.

When it comes to knockout varieties and colors, the main ones have been red and pink.

There are also double knockout roses that deliver twice as many petals per flower. There is also a newer one called Sunny. It has yellow buds that burst into creamy white flowers. It seems to do well, but probably won’t bloom quite as profusely as the reds and pinks. Don’t miss out on adding these beautiful roses to your landscape.

Drooping, yellow magnolia leaves

Magnolia trees can usually look pretty sick for a short time each spring. Many leaves turn yellow, get droopy and fall off.

All evergreen plants lose some older leaves.

They just don’t do it all at the same time like a deciduous plant. Evergreen leaves normally have a life span of one to four years. Leaf drop can occur every year or only every second or third year.

When growing conditions have been favorable the previous season, leaf shedding usually occurs over several weeks and is less noticeable. If the tree has been exposed to unfavorable conditions during the previous season, leaf drop develops in a few days.

Don’t worry if your tree looks sick. It will perk up and look normal when the older leaves fall off and the new leaves replace them.


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