Question:

 My roses are doing reasonably well, but some of the stems are very long, and leggy. I prefer that the plants be bushier. Am I pruning them wrong? 

Answer:

I  wouldn't say you're pruning them wrong.
  • You just need to prune the bushes a bit more aggressively after each flush of flowers. But first, you need to identify whether or not the long canes are part of the desired variety or rogue or sucker growth. Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, and Floribunda varieties are budded onto a second variety called the rootstock.
  • It's typical for roses to produce rogue or sucker growth. These are shoots that develop below the bud union or off the surface roots.
    • The bud union is the knot-like structure found at the base of the bush. These are vigorous shoots that grow rapidly into long, leggy branches. Another characteristic of this growth is that they produce small, cherry red flowers.
    • This growth is eliminated while the other shoots are pruned back.
  •  Many rose pruning books will instruct you to prune back to the second set of five leaves. I tend to ignore this point and prune to shape the bushes, especially the sides, so the plants don't merge into one another.
    • We do tend to plant our roses a bit to close too one another.
    • The top is then lowered to control and prevent them from growing too tall. This should be standard practice throughout the growing season when you remove the spent flowers.
    • Also, you want to make your cut where there is an outside bud. All the buds are located in the area where the leaf blade attaches to the stem.
    • At this time of the year, don't want to leave the plant void of leaves, as the green stems will burn in the afternoon sun.
  • You should continue to feed your plants with Dr. Earth Rose Food or similar fertilizer right through the fall. They should be watered the day before fertilizing and immediately afterward to prevent fertilizer burn.
  • It's not too late to mulch your plants to conserve moisture, as there are plenty more warm days ahead. A two-inch layer of mulch should be spread a foot beyond the drip line of each plant. This extra attention will reward you with two or more flushes for flowers between now and the New Year.

Question:

 I have a Meyer lemon tree that's not blooming.  I have read that overwatering could be the cause. Should I stop watering them?

Answer:

  • Boy, 'Stop Watering' to encourage fruiting, that's a new one on me.
  • Lemons and all other citruses should be water regularly once the rainy season has concluded and throughout the summer months. So yes, I'd continue to water it.
  • Meyer Lemons tend to bloom year-round. The spring rains may have disturbed the fruit set.
  • Right now, I do nothing different other than the water it and feed it with Citrus Food. I would expect a new flush of flowers in the next month.