Master Gardeners from Oregon State University’s Extension Service answer your questions about Pacific Northwest gardens.

Q: We’ve had a rose plant in a large pot for a couple of years, and planted it in front of our house a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the leaves are starting to yellow from the ground up. Any ideas what could be going wrong?

A: The soil near the rose looks quite dry. More than likely, the rootball is also dry. To verify if that is so, carefully scratch the soil away from the top of the rootball. If the rootball is dry, or nearly so, drizzle water into it until it’s moist.

In the future, when you move a potted plant to the garden, the guideline is to set a moist rootball into moist soil. To thoroughly moisten a potted rootball, submerge it in water until bubbles stop rising, or for a maximum of 20 minutes. (If a bucket isn’t deep enough, use a trash can.)

While the rootball is soaking, dig the hole, then fill it with water and allow it to drain. Repeat the fill-and-drain twice more.

Lift the soaked rootball from the water and let it drain briefly. Set the plant in the moistened planting hole. Fill the empty spaces around the rootball with the native soil, adding water as you go to settle the soil. Continue until all the soil is returned to the hole.


After planting, you may have to water daily. Frequency varies with the size of the plant and the prevailing weather, especially during warm weather and windy times. Before adding water, always check the soil with a finger or trowel. During the first weeks, it will be particularly important to water directly on top of the rootball. And consider rigging temporary shade if temperatures soar. — Jean Natter, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Can we grow pluots in a damp climate?

Q: We live on the Nehalem River. Our property actually seems to have its own microclimate, which is why I’m trying to give more details. Is it feasible to grow pluots? Our soil is sandy loam and has good drainage. But there’s a lot of moisture — if not showers, there is frequent fog.

A: Yes, you should have success growing pluots in your area. Keep in mind, however, that pluots bloom in the early spring, so some years you may experience a late freeze that damages the blossoms, resulting in no or little fruit for that year. When planting a pluot, two varieties are necessary for pollination. Another option is planting a Japanese plum within 100 feet of the plout for cross-pollination. Even though a plout is a cross between plum and apricot, another apricot will not serve as a pollinator. Be sure to plant your trees where they will get at least six hours of sun each day and water them at least once a week so the soil is damp 8 to 10 inches beneath the soil surface. They like well-drained soil. — Linda Holmes, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Artichoke plants require regular fertilizing

Q: I have a 3-year-old artichoke plant that is thriving. However, the large lower leaves are turning yellow and dying. Should I trim them off? Last year, I got eight artichokes off my plant and now there are five stocks. Should I tie up the drooping leaves? So far, I have seven baby artichokes.

A: How often have you fertilized your plant? These are heavy feeders, and yellowing indicates a nitrogen deficiency. Here is more on artichoke care. — Kris LaMar, OSU Extension Master Gardener

Record numbers of people are turning to gardening while we shelter in place. If you’ve got questions, turn to Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live.