My old rose bush

jbanderFebruary 4, 2012

The rose is in the best spot on my property for sun. 6-8 hours, Sorry ,didn't tell you were I lived, I live in Zimmerman Mn, just 50 miles NW of Minneapolis. Sorry No pictures it's under the snow right now, I was given some time to think about things, by cutting the tip of my middle finger off with a router. So I can't do my work or hobbies. It gave me the time to realize that it would be a shame to let this die . The plant is next to the sidewalk by our front door ,It has its own 10 square ft razed garden to live in.. There is so little amount of it growing, that there really isn't anything to prune. I never have. My mother had it growing healthy, it was about 3 ft high and 3 feet across and the roots would make it want to always get bigger, I remember her putting egg shells on it and coffee grounds. But she had a place to put everything in the yard. For one reason or another . Theres globe arborvitae growing right next to it but it isn't in the raised garden. The Closest tree is maybe 30 ft away and it doesn't throw shade on this spot. It is really sandy here but when I raise the garden the rose is in, I put black dirt in to fill it. NO real weed problem there,

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strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Hi jbander: I'm so sorry that you cut the tip of your middle finger. I googled for "router" and got a picture of an amped wireless R1000G router. I asked my computer-geek hubby, "how can a person cut the finger off with this device?" He broke out laughing, "ha, ha, it's a wood shaving device, not a computer hardware router!"

I don't trust black dirt, since the EarthGro topsoil from HomeDepo killed my peony in Chicagoland. I tested the pH and found it to be as alkaline as baking soda at 9. It depends on where you are, the topsoil bags from North Carolina are reported at a pH of 5 to 6, very acidic.

Someone here will recommend a more neutral organic compost, or what's best to fertilize your rose bush. The Chicago Botanical Garden here used a soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer for their roses. I asked High Country Roses what they use, it's a LOW-SALT Daniels' Soluble fertilizer. Since you live in Minnesota, if you use any de-icing material on your front door sidewalk, it would add salt to your rose bush. Folks at the Soil Forum recommended "Ecotract" de-icing, sold at HomeDepo. It doesn't become mushy like kitty litter, and doesn't kill plants with salt. Ecotract is some grainy harmless mineral.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:46PM
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I'm sorry to hear about your finger too, that does NOT sound fun!

As Strawberry Hill recommended, bet some good fertilizer this spring would make a big difference in your rose.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:53PM
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Good point about the ice, Strawberryhill, thanks! Something we don't deal with here in the land of endless summer, unless buying a "classic" car from New Jersey!

Something else to consider. You say the arborvitae aren't "in" the bed with the rose, but are growing right beside it. Roots from all plants grow toward the best soil, food, water and drainage. If the arborvitae are of any age and size, they've infiltrated the replaced soil in that raised bed and might be competing with the rose for resources. I've encountered tree and shrub competition in "raised beds" as well as pots and planters set right on the ground, time after time. They find the more beneficial spots and then proceed to fill that space with their roots. I had canned roses sitting on the soil outside the drip zone of trees and it took less than one summer for the tree roots to grow through the drain holes and fill the cans with their roots. Mulberries are notorious for it, but the Black Walnut out back here has done it, too. Oleanders filled fifteen gallon pots in one summer, though they were a good ten feet from where the cans sat.

So far, it seems the severe cold; perhaps pH and possibly the drainage (whether too fast and not holding enough moisture, or too slow); potential root competition from the arborvitae; even possibly salts from deicers used on the front walk, or even kitty litter causing clumping and too wet conditions, might all play their parts. Kim

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:01PM
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My brother routered his finger once, too, and it is miserable. I wish you a quick recovery!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:48PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I agree with Kim. In the spring dig around in the bed and I'll bet you'll find it's filled with roots from your shrubs and trees. Most plants are lazy and will reach for where ever the best conditions and water sources are.

Did your mother live in MN too? What other climates was the rose in? You are in a really cold climate and if there was a severe climate change it may not be happy with the cold winters.

I would suggest getting that soil tested to really know whats happening there as far as salts and such. Karl just posted a good on line place to get one done, www(dot)drgoodearth(dot)com.

I've posted a link to the original question and information here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old rose first post

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:55PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I guess the big question is whether or not it has always lived in Minnesota. If not, then it probably just isn't hardy enough for the conditions. End of story. Remember that raised beds are colder than ground level beds because the sides are exposed.

As for the rest of it, I'd want some sort of class ID before going further. Rose species vary enormously in their tolerance of certain growing conditions, and the various hybrids echo that.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:58PM
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strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Unfortunately Earthco., or drgoodearth, doesn't test for the salt in the soil. There's always an ongoing debate in the Soil Forum whether or not gypsum is beneficial for other soils besides sodic. For your info. I attach a link below to advantages of gypsum, known to be useful for salty clay soil. It's cheapest at Walmart, like $5 for a big bag.

If you google, "salt index of various fertilizer materials", it would show the lowest salt fertilizer to be potassium phosphate rather than potassium chloride as the K source. Superphosphate, at 20% has a salt index of 7.8, compared to DAP of 29.2. The lowest salt for nitrogen would be organic fertilizer, like blood meal. Bonemeal for phosphorus is lower in salt than chemical fertilizer, but can only be used when pH is lower than 7.

From the book, "Planting in difficult soils", it shows a map of the U.S. and corresponding types of soil. Minnesota is NOT in the alkaline soil region, so you are safe in using bonemeal or phosphorus in a granules form.

Here is a link that might be useful: Agricultural Gypsum Uses

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Since it was brought from North Dakota (beautiful state for the forty-five minutes of weather I can endure!), it shouldn't be a climate suitability issue. I'd think it would be more being eaten by something, buried too deeply, root interference, perhaps salt or kitty litter deicer issues before climatic unsuitability.

If it is actually a century old, living in those climates, it should have either been initially own root, or gone own root in the ensuing decades. If it grew to three by three feet and flowered in North Dakota, it would seem it should be something in the OGR type which has the hardiness necessary to exist in such severe cold. Might there be any photos of it taken way back when? Perhaps family photos with the plant as part of the discernable background? Maybe a child or someone holding a flowering cane in a pose or a bouquet of flowers? I've run across a few of those in going through boxes of old family photos. Often, when a plant is a family heirloom like that, poses are made with it as part of the family record. It would make an interesting search if such records are easily available.

And, yes, I apologize for not sympathizing with your injury earlier. I got caught up in diagnosing the plant problem and it slipped through this stainless steel seive between my ears! I know how miserable it can be and how embarrassing they can be to admit to. I hope your recovery is speedy and complete! Kim

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Thanks for all the response, I know you shouldn't use salt around the plants but I might have in the last 25 years , when I had a real ice problem sometime, But no more then a couple of times. I'm going to get a soil testing kit so I can test in multiple places . It came from North Dakota, by wagon, at the turn of the century. I live in Zimmerman a town NW of Minneapolis and my mothers house was on lake Minnetonka just west of the Twin Cities. You know it would be easier and a lot cheaper, to refill this 5'-10' Sq FT garden then to send out a soil test. Is that a thought, take them out,change soil, replant them at the right depth and adjust for needed ph and fertilizer. That would resolve the salt problem and maybe put down plastic to resolve the possible root problem from the arborvitae next to it. If this is a good thought, how would you suggest building the new soil, Compost, composted manure and bagged soil ,how does that sound.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Personally, I would not dig it up until there is a confirmed second plant of it. What if you kill it when transplanting it? Hopefully, once the snow melts and ground thaws, it will have put out a sucker which can be carefully dug and potted separately to insure the plant's survival. It's safe to dig the original once there is a secure copy of it. Kim

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:45PM
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I agree with Kim. You can take cuttings and root them, or get someone to root them for you, before you do anything to the parent plant.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 6:52PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

If you've told us this, and I have missed it, please forgive me, but do you have a memory of what the blooms looked like? Color, for one thing . . .


    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 7:36PM
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It had a few overlapping petals, not much more then a regular wild rose that we have here in Minnesota, it was more pink, more of a light pink instead of a dark pink. it was about 2 1/2 inches across. remember I haven't seen it in years. It was a bush like I said at it's best, in my mothers hands, it was about 3 ft by 3 ft. I have no pictures of it. They spread from the root. .Just went and looked at antique roses. this is what they looked like, tea rose, Old brush rose,cecile brunner poliantha 1881, fairy poliantha 1932, its a little darker then a Penelope 1924, looks like duchesese de brabant tea 1857,less pettles and a little darker then a souveneir de la malmaison 1843,

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 8:14PM
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strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Hi jbander: Digging a rose bush is a NO-NO, I agree with Kim Rupert. I moved Knock-outs many times, and it took at least 3 months for them to recuperate (with my watering them everyday!). Gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate) is known to replace the salt in soil. If you google, "gypsum and salt" you see info. like this:

"Following the theory that gypsum will help leach salt out of soil, The Morton Arboretum recommended to the City of Chicago that it add gypsum to the soil mixes used in the planter boxes that line the city�s streets. So, for example, if you have an area near a road where vegetation is suffering because of winter salt spray, gypsum will help."

The above article went to say that if you live in the Midwest like my Chicagoland, with soil high in dolomitic lime, you don't need gypsym. Well, according to the EarthCo, or, who tested my soil - that's wrong. I'm next to a limestone quarry, with tons of lime stones mixed in my soil. My soil test came out to be exceedingly high in magnesium, but barely adequate in calcium. EarthCo. recommends me to apply gypsum to my soil. The calcium in my soil is tied up with phosphate, making phosphorus unavailable as well.

Berndoodle, a past poster who lives in California - with clay soil, got her soil tested. Berndoodle also had the same recommendation of NOT adding magnesium (or epsom salt), but adding calcium instead. All fertilizers have salt: most is chemical, next is manure, then last is blood meal.

What I learned from the chemists & farmers in the Soil Forum is that if your soil is clayish and sticky, most often it's high in magnesium. We always need gypsum to desalt the salt that comes with fertilizer/or de-icing materials. EcoTract, the new de-icing stuff, is the one that has no salt in it, and won't damage plants.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:19AM
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In spring time, to rejuvenate it, I would trim the tips of the stems, give it just a tiny bit of pruning, even if it's only removing 1/4 inch.

You mentioned that it's about a 1 foot tall rose, so just a very slight trim of the tips of the stems.

Dead wood should be removed.

I would topdress the soil with organic fertilizers and a little mulch. Use a hand rake to lightly rake in the organics. Very lightly rake so as not to disturb the roots.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 4:25PM
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I'm so sorry about your injury, I hope you will have a speedy recovery.

Also, in the spring and summer, one can use a liquid soil drench such as compost tea or fish/ seaweed product to help rejuvenate it.

This can be used in addition to the topdressing of the solid fertilizers.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 4:52PM
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If the rose is planted next to the front steps, it may be suffering from cast off building materials buried in the soil next to the foundation. Not infrequently builders get rid of these materials by using them to fill in the space just outside the foundation. For them it is a "two fer" filling in the hole and discarding unwanted material for free. For the gardening homeowner it is a never ending pain until dug out.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:12PM
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strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I'm glad Cath mentioned that, since Gean from PNW and I had a discussion that our plants turned chlorotic once planted next to the front steps. When my house was built, the builder dumped a giant pile of lime stones, then built my front door walkway ON TOP of this pile. I shoveled many wheelbarrows full of excess lime stones and discarded at another to-be-built sidewalk.

If it's a salt damage, then gypsum would fix that. But if it's cholorotic and a shrinking rose, then IT HAS TO BE MOVED AWAY from the stony place. It's best to move the rose BEFORE it leafs out, like early spring. I moved my Knock-out right after it had fully leafed out, then it lost all the leaves, and had to start all over again. End of March or early April is a good time.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:00PM
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It sounds like my Idea of changing the soil is not the best Idea. I just bought a soil testing kit and I'll see what is needs. I'll Go the Gypsum route and I read that if salts a problem, run lots of water through it , to push the salt down deeper, so it won't effect the Plants. Also I would like to go organic and Rabbit food was suggested for fertilizer, it's alfalfa I guess and is cheap- the cheap part is important. That or corn meal. With a good top coat of Composted manure or just generic compost. and of course whatever the soil test suggest.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 12:45AM
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Soil test FIRST before you go dumping anything on the poor plant. All you need to do is poison it with something it has too much of already trying to 'help' it. Once possible, start gently digging around it, not close enough to damage the roots, but close enough to see if it's sitting on top of or around any large chunks of cement and to see if the thing is being choked out by invading arborvitae roots. It's entirely possible it may have too good drainage, or the total opposite. It definitely requires some detective work to diagnose what it's suffering from before anything is done to "help" it. Kim

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 1:23AM
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strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I second Kim Rupert's wisdom. He bred many hardy roses (down to zone 2), plus thornless roses. Check them out! I first bought a soil-test kit from HomeDepo - it showed neutral pH of 7. Then I bought a second one from Lowe's, the instruction asked for 1 teaspoon of soil! I'm laughing here since you can't tell much from that little soil. EarthCo. tested my soil pH to be 7.7

After much searching I found that the over $200 pH meter needs to be re calibrated before using. That's too technical for me, so I tried the red cabbage juice as pH indicator. A chemist in the Soil Forum thinks it's a good idea too. The fish-tank litmus paper sold at Walmart for $5 is accurate in the alkaline range, but not in the acidic range. It is used to test your water, and not your soil.

With the red cabbage juice you can collect as many samples as you want, like from 10 different places in your garden. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of soil from different places in those plastic fruit cups - then you can compare the pH difference in different spots of your garden.

Chop 50 cents of red cabbage, boil in DISTILLED WATER ($1 a gallon) for 10 minutes, discard the solids. Distribute the warm red juice equally in tiny fruit cups and test these separately: one drop of vinegar (pH 2 to 3) for the 1st cup, then 1 teaspoon of baking soda (pH of 9) for the second cup, MiracleGro potting soil (pH of 6.5), this should turn light pink. One heaping tablespoon of soil from different places placed in separate cups.

If your soil is neutral, the juice will turn slightly blue, but still mostly purple. If soil is alkaline, the juice turns bluish green, like the baking soda at pH of 9. If the soil is slightly acidic, then it's the same color as MiracleGro. The range is more pink for more acidic, then neutral purple (color of cabbage juice), then blue (slightly alkaline), then bluish-green, and bright green is over pH of 10.

Since red cabbage juice has a wider variation in colors, it is more accurate than lichen, used in litmus paper. I never try corn meal as fertilizer, although corn meal gluten is 10% nitrogen by weight. I found this interesting link on corn meal as a pre-emergence herbicide.

My brother in Grand Rapids, MI has to apply lime to his acidic soil. Gypsum is the only one that is safe for BOTH alkaline and acidic soil. Alfalfa meal, in rabbit pellets, is acidic, pH of 5 to 6, peatmoss is acidic at 4 pH. It's best to test for your soil's pH before applying rabbit pellets.

EarthCo, or tests your soil pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium for $20. For trace minerals you pay $10 more, or $30 altogether. You send in 1 cup of soil from your garden (postage paid by them). They give you a booklet of soil chemistry, it's worth it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Corn meal as pre-emergence herbicide

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:18AM
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