Rootstocks and soil types

JoshTx(8a)January 28, 2014

I have a hard time keeping track of which rootstock appreciates what type of soil. Here in Tx is seems Huey is the most popular one (though is suckers horribly). Where I live we have Houstok black clay. It's rich in nutrients, but on the alkaline side, and tends to become slimy when wet but concrete when dry.

Is there a short list of rootstocks and the types of soil they like?



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lori_elf z6b MD

Multiflora does well here both as a root stock and a naturalized wild rose around here. We have heavy red clay here.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:25AM
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I only know of three rootstocks currently in common use in North America. This was not always the case. For example, Ragged Robin (Gloire des Rosamenes) used to be a popular rootstock, which is why rose rustlers find it so frequently. And in England I believe that Rosa canina laxa is popular. I don't know much about either of these as rootstocks. If you go to HelpMeFind you can find a list of roses that have been used as understock at one time or another.

Dr Huey is the one most often used in western United States, which happens to be where a lot of the rose propagation nurseries are. It does particularly well in alkaline soil.

Rosa multiflora does well in more acid soils and I believe (someone check me on this) is somewhat more tolerant of cold that Dr Huey is.

Fortuniana is especially vigorous, prized for its resistance to the nematodes sometimes found in sandy soils, but is too tender for climates with severe winters.

I grow most of my roses own root so my personal experience with all three is limited to a few plants. However I have seen more suckering with fortuniana and Dr Huey than with multiflora. I just replaced several roses I really like but that have strong own root suckering tendencies ("runaround roses") with grafted versions. The only place I could find them grafted was Pickering, which uses multflora. I'll soon know how they will do in my alkaline soil. Fingers crossed!


Here is a link that might be useful: Roses as rootstocks on HelpMeFind

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:48AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Pickering has used Laxa for some things. I believe the spinossisimas I got from them about ten years ago are probably on Laxa. The Harison's Yellow from very long ago from Pickering definitely was. It is probably hardier than either multiflora or Dr. Huey, and much more tolerant regarding pH.

A lot of people *say* that multiflora is hardier than Dr. Huey, but I have yet to find the person who has seen evidence of it first hand. Here, with a slightly alkaline soil, the reverse is true. So I don't believe it as a blanket statement.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:57AM
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Here is a link to a page of articles on the Heritage Rose Foundation. There is a link to a 1951 article by Dr. Buck on rootstocks towards the bottom:

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr Buck article

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:58PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

Just to add that another understock which used to be very common in N. America was R. manetti (the proper one not R. indica major mistakenly named 'manetti' in some parts of Australia). I think it might be still be used for cut rose production. Having been so common in the past I would expect that it or its hybrids may still be found growing in parts of the US. Is this true?

In Europe mostly varieties and cultivars of R. canina are used with multiflora finding some use also afaik. Canina as a wild species has continental distribution and a tendency to produce varieties in the wild. R. indica major (a china) is still being used in the hot and dry South.

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Tue, Jan 28, 14 at 14:17

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 1:50PM
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Josh, I believe most grafted roses in TX are grown on Dr. Huey as they are in PDX. If a nursery doesn't specify the rootstock, I suspect Huey. Fortuniana is a good stock for TX but might need a little initial winter protection since it's somewhat tender and Dallas has cold snaps and Blue Northerns and dry cold at times. No extra work, really, since planting the graft below soil to encourage and protect the grafted rose is good practice as is mulching for winter. It's my impression that Fortuniana used to be common stock in earlier days, but it may be difficult to locate now. I believe several rose gardeners affiliated with Texas A & M grow many of their grafted roses on Fortuniana to good effect. If you find choice roses on Fortuniana, some others on the forum may be interested in your sources. Fortuniana also makes a nice specimen and, as you have probably discovered, can be seen in many cemeteries and alongside many old homes--rootstock that outlived the grafted roses. I've read several articles celebrating the benefits of Fortuniana stock in your area (and others). I don't know that I'd grow a rose on multiflora with RRD in my area. Perhaps the forum rose disease experts can address any connections (or not) between multiflora rootstock and increased disease risks. Rootstock: interesting topic! Carol

This post was edited by PortlandMysteryRose on Tue, Jan 28, 14 at 19:55

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:17PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I'm no expert on this topic, but I am only a couple states north of you. My grafted roses are roughly half Dr. Huey and half multiflora. I see no real difference in performance, and my Dr. Huey rootstocks have never suckered--probably because, as Portland observed, I plant my grafts 1-2 inches under the soil line to protect them.

I know nothing about the other rootstocks mentioned above.

As to your question about the susceptibility of multiflora rootstock to RRD, I posted a question on that a year or so ago. The unanimous answer was that multiflora rootstock has nothing to do with RRD -- no cause-effect relationship at all. Think about it--the infected mite has to be blown by the wind over to another rose to infect it. How would the wind blow a mite underground to the rootstock?


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:15PM
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I'm hoping to find more nurseries which graft to Fortuniana. I sent Mrs. Leong a band of Gloire de Dijon so she could grow it up and use it for budwood, that way there would be a commercially available source of grafted GdD. I'm not sure which rootstock she has decided to eventually use, but given that she is such a talented grafter I have no doubts it will be a superb plant.

Perhap I should see if she is interested in grafting Devoniensis to Fortuniana. There's a thread where Dr. Manners talks about how the grafted Devoniensis at his university has really outdone itself in a year's time.

Thanks for all the info guys!


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:52PM
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I remember reading that the species roses that originated in Europe tolerate stiff, clay soils (and of course cold) better than the Chinese species roses. The tolerance of their descendants with mixed ancestry would depend on the degree of admixture and the genes inherited.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:15PM
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All your tea grafting ideas and info sound great, Josh! Both of those teas are lovely.

I'm planning to sift throught past posts and replies on the tea-noisette Marechal Niel to learn more about grafting, choicest cuttings, cold tolerance, etc. He's another great rose that you have a much better shot at successfully growing than I do, but I adore him all the same. Maybe someday...after I build a greenhouse or something...I will attempt to pamper him. As I recall, he's better when grafted. Maybe he'd be happy on Fortuniana, too? I think Vintage Gardens had a strong own-root Marechal, but, alas, Vintage is no more.

Do I see a future in horticulture in your crystal ball?

Kate, good point about multiflora and RRD. I'd sure stay on top of suckers, though!


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Did you discuss rootstocks with Burling? Unless things have changed with her fairly recently, she grafts exclusively to Dr. Huey.

I'm sorry to hear that Dr. Huey suckers rampantly in your area. In the many years I've grown grafted roses (primarily on Dr. Huey), I've not once experienced that problem. Is it a fairly common problem? Have others here experienced suckering with Huey?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:45PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)


I think the discussion around multiflora and the RRD virus centered around the interaction between 'feral' multiflora and multiflora rootstock fields and also the fact (?) that multiflora rootstock is propagated by cuttings. So rootstocks can be virused before being budded on. This is what I remember reading.

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Wed, Jan 29, 14 at 0:17

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:15AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Nik, obviously, if the rootstock of any rose is virused, that poses a problem, but I think you are confusing the situation of Dr. Huey, commonly used in the USA and commonly virused with the Rose Mosaic Virus which is not fatal, with the somewhat different problem caused by RDD (Rose Rosette Disease) infections in the wild.

I think the question I asked the forum earlier was whether there was a problem planting the Canadian plants (Pickering, Paladine plants) which usually have multiflora roots. Would they be more susceptible to getting RRD like some of my other roses were (with Dr. Huey rootstock, I might add) is what I asked. The forum overwhelmingly said there was no problem--so you may have a slightly different discussion in mind. Pickering and Paladine have reputations for virus-free roses, after all.

It is going to be quite a shock to a lot of rose growers on this forum if you are announcing that their Pickering and Paladine roses were virused before they bought them. Don't think we want to needlessly start undocumented rumors, do we!

On the other hand, if you have some documentation that Pickering and Paladine are selling roses virused with RRD, do share that documentation with us. We need to know if our favorite rose source has suddenly become so dangerous. But with no documentation, please do squelch that terrible rumor--those two outstanding Canadian nurseries do not deserve to have their reputations ruined by some undocumented rumors.

Again, the infected rootstock that is often discussed on this forum is about RMV (not RDD) infecting Dr. Huey rootstock. Roses can live and even thrive with the RMV infection, and Dr. Huey is often infected with RMV. On the other hand, if it is true that roses with multiflora rootstock have become seriously compromised by RDD infection, that is an entirely different situation and you will have ruined two important Canadian businesses since roses can NOT live and even thrive with a RDD infection. RDD and RMV are two entirely different kinds of viruses and should NOT be confused.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:16AM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

i'm not announcing anything and certainly I'm not implying anything about the particular nursery you mentioned. I'm just recalling something I read, which was specifically about multiflora and its assumed, by some, role in spreading the particular virus. I explained what the situation might be, an explanation very sensible and also put forth in the discussion or article I read, the source of which unfortunately I cannot recall but it was by a respectable rose person.

I was responding specifically to your suggestion that the vector mite cannot go under the soil to attack the rootstock and I just meant to say that it DOESN'T HAVE to, because it can attack it where it's grown. That multiflora is quite susceptible to the virus is, I think, documented.

I have no personal opinion about the particular virus spread in US (it does not exist in Europe yet afaik) and I couldn't have since I'm no expert and I don't live in the US. However, I have read more than once that virus spreading, and I'm not talking particularly about RRV, nor only about roses, can and does occur through use of rootstock and the methods of propagating it.

For this to pose a significant problem the virus should be able to be transmitted from rootstock to scion of course, as many viruses can, and if this has been PROVEN not to be possible for the particular virus this discussion should end here. If it has not been proven this discussion is legit regardless of any indirect implications or any series of valid or invalid inferences regarding any commercial operation anyone would wish to make. If this has been proven then any number of docs and references like this Alabama extension document which mentions that the virus can be transmitted by the mite or BY GRAFTING are out of date and should be withdrawn

So please, if you want to find somebody to blame about potentially harming some nursery business, please look closer to home..

Here is a link that might be useful: Multiflora and RRV

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 2:01

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Campanula UK Z8

I have sown a bed of canina on the wood edge because this gives me a full year and half before I have to worry about moving my roses from Cambridge to Norfolk....and if I can avoid digging, I will....but it is also insurance because I have had much better luck budding rather than rooting cuttings...and as the stock is local (literally, from my own woods), I have hopes of simply transfering the whole lot by taking budwood instead of heaps of digging. I have no particular gripe about own roots or various stocks - it is just what is available (and the easiest method - being a lazy gardener) - course, the seedlings have to germinate and grow first but, in a protected bed, in local soil - what can go wrong.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:44PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Back in the day in the beginning of my rose life, I was able to purchase bare root roses from a local nursery in southern California. The roses were held in saw dust bins and we could pull the rose and examine the roots.

One of the first things I was taught was to check and see if the root stock under the bud union was properly de-eyed. If the plant was properly prepared, the Dr. Huey root stock never produced suckers in the roses I purchased.

In recent years, I have found only one nursery up here where the roses were properly prepared. That is the only nursery I will use to purchase new roses.

The link below is an archived Ezine article about root stocks written by Kim Rupert.


Here is a link that might be useful: HMF Ezine Article on Root Stocks

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:02PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

Good point Lyn. The local nursery from which I have obtained many roses practices de-eying religiously and I can say I have never seen a sucker from any of the hundred or so roses I have bought from them. Of course, suckering tendencies differ between rootstocks. I'm not sure what they're using but I'm sure it's not Dr. Huey. I've seen canina suckers though in roses obtained directly from Kordes in Germany.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:18PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

And I will stick to my point.

I have never heard of a case where multiflora rootstock grafted onto a rose bought at a nursery caused a case of RRD (or RRV, whichever way you want to write it).

I have never heard of even one accusation against Pickering or Palatine nurseries that their multiflora rootstocks are suspicious and their roses got RRD (or RRV) from it.


P.S. (On a side note, I have never had a Dr. Huey rootstock rose that suckered.)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:00PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

As is usual in such cases, RRD should be used for the disease with manifested symptoms and RRV for the virus causing it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 2:03AM
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About roses and clay soils, what Cath41 said about the greater tolerance of roses of European origin for stiff clay soils agrees exactly with my experience. This may be attributable at least in part to our wet winter-dry summer climate: the warm-climate roses stay in growth during the wet winters while the deciduous old roses shut down and are less afflicted by airless sodden soil. For whatever the reason, I need to be particularly attentive to drainage with the Teas, Chinas, and Noisettes.
In much of Europe grafting appears to be mostly on Laxa, a good rose for our moderate Mediterranean climate and heavy soil. Some Multiflora is used too, I'm not sure in which countries or how extensively.
How does one de-eye?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:50AM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

'In much of Europe grafting appears to be mostly on Laxa'

Laxa, a R. canina variety is mostly used in the UK. Much of the rest of Europe mostly uses other canina varieties and cultivars. I've read that multiflora is sometimes used for grafting exhibition roses. R. indica major is often used in Southern Europe for grafting garden HT's and florist roses . This last one exhibits particular resistance to heat and draught, is good for alkaline soils, grafts take up easily and it doesn't sucker. It has exhibited some tendencies towards transmitting some viruses though.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:29AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Um, I bought a tranche of roses from Bierkreek who do not graft on laxa - they are still young but I am paying close attention to any obvious differences (Bierkreek claim that colour is affected, with brighter roses on their canina stock). I am hoping for a more fibrous root system instead of that horrible sideways tap-root thing which laxa does in my soil. Obviously, I am mainly using what is handy but I do find the rootstocks quite interesting topics. At college, I learned how to graft, using a whole tray of New Dawns (which I had propagated for my cutting practice so had them lying around). I did have a couple of fails( a spinossissima and Jacques Cartier, I think) but overall, I sort of tried to match the vigour of stock and scion (a few wichurana hybrids) but I still have these roses, doing fine.....but haven't attempted to move one yet.
It is endlessly fascinating, isn't it, Josh? Now you have done cuttings, you might fancy having a go yourself - there are heaps of them....(reminded me a bit like learning knots when we were scouts). Names like whip and tongue, saddle, side, cleft, top-worked, four sides.......a language redolent with mystery and promise.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Deleted message -- misread something and my note made no sense.


This post was edited by rosefolly on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 15:51

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:50PM
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