I need help

Rachel.EMarch 28, 2014

I haven't been here in such a long while, but I knew you all would be able to help me. I'm not sure if any of you even remember me.

We lost our home to a house fire three weeks ago. We are trying to settle into a temporary housing situation. We are fortunate that our children, pets and even most of our family pictures and keepsakes were spared in the fire. Our rental house is nearly an hour away from our home (you may recall we lived in a very rural area) and we are going this weekend to try to salvage what we can from the house.

I want to try to save my rose bushes. There will be no water available there, and they are only going into their second summer. They won't survive this horrible Texas heat without help.

I am at a loss as to the best way to proceed. I don't know where we will ultimately end up, but I do know we will not be attempting to rebuild our house where it was for a variety of reasons. I also don't know how long we will be at our rental house. We have signed a lease for a year, so I know it will be that long.

It was suggested to me to cut them back and pot them in five gallon buckets with holes drilled for drainage. Should I strip their leaves? I can imagine this is about the worst time to traumatize them as they are all just beginning to leaf out.

Can you please give me the most specific advice you can? I really do love my rose babies...I only have about 15, but they were all purchased from the Antique Rose Emporium, so they were pricey, and they were absolutely beautiful.

Here are the varieties I have, if that matters:

Belinda's Dream
Graham Thomas
Mrs BR Cant
Gruss an Aachen
Angel Face
William R Smith
Monsieur Tillier
Zepherine Drouhin
Duchesse de Brabant
Climbing Pinkie
Rosette Delizzy
Judy Garland
One unknown orange/red hybrid tea

I thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

Rachel in Central Texas

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seil zone 6b MI

First off, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your home! But I'm very glad to know that you and your loved ones are all safe. I wish you all much happiness going forward and hope that you find a new home that you love. Preferably with a big place to grow your roses!

Yes, pot them up. When I had to move 16 roses for an entire summer because the yard was torn up I went to the dollar store and bought as big a buckets as I could find and drilled holes in them and planted the roses in those. They did really well in those buckets that summer. Even my climber never missed a beat.

I would prune them back but I wouldn't suggest taking off any leaves on what's left. They'll need those leaves both to produce food for the rose and to shade the canes when it starts to get hot. Pruning them back will make them easier to handle and will be less stress on the remaining root ball to feed.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I am so sorry about your house! Dealing with a fire is hard.

Another thought, if you have room at the rental house, is to ask on Craigslist for even larger than 5g pots, the big black nursery ones, so the roses will have more room to grow for longer. They are heavy but you can move them on a dolly cart fairly easy and people give away those pots fairly regularly. You might try a landscape company to see if they will help.

Sorry about the home

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I am sorry about the loss of your home; I hope this turns into a "blessing in disguise" and that you are able to eventually replace your burned home and garden with the one you'd love to have.

I don't know how large the roses are, but I agree about getting nursery squats or larger pots, if not now, then sometime soon if they are going to be pot bound for a year or more. Some of those tea roses can become pretty large and might like some more room than what a bucket can provide.

I also wouldn't fret too much about them; they're all pretty tough and will be able to handle this fine. I also agree about not stripping leaves; it won't help anything at all to do that. They'll just spend more energy putting out leaves. Good luck with this and I am glad you all are safe, kids, pets, roses and all. Gean

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 3:52PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens, Greece)

Very sorry about your home loss. It is a difficult time, I'm sure, but I truly believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Can you get some of the nursery type straight (cylinder shape) softish plastic pots where you live? Over here, these are pretty cheap compared to 'consumer' type plastc pots and are very easy to unpot the plant from, when time comes. They might be difficult to source, though, in small quantities. I wish you all the best. Be strong!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:46PM
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organic_tosca(9/Sunset 14)

This may not be very helpful, but I remember doing a Google search a few years back for those black pots that nurseries use, and I found more than one source that sold them. Alas, I don't remember what I entered in the Google search field, nor do I remember how much they cost! They are out there, though, and I remember being told by some very knowledgeable friends that they were the best way to go. Thinking about it, I probably just googled something like "black nursery pots", but a better bet might be what Gean suggested: "nursery squats".
I think you are right to try to save those roses. Not only are they pretty wonderful ones, but they will make you feel better - roses are good for morale!!
Best of luck - Laura

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:33PM
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Rachel, I am so sorry! Please know that my thoughts are with you. My husband's house burned just before I met him. He and two sons were in the process of starting over when I met him. I concur with Seil's and Gean's advice and have great faith that your roses will be fine. If I locate a good online source for pots (as others mentioned), I'll let you know. I'm hunting for some myself. I grew up in Dallas where it gets darned toasty in the summer. I'd keep your potted plants in a partially shaded area and lay some mulch on top of the soil for good measure. Forum member Josh from TX may know some good local pot sources. Maybe ARE knows of one as well. Sending heartfelt support for a smooth transition--Carol (now in Oregon)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:12PM
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I turned up a number of online sources for Gro Pro Premium 10 gallon nursery pots. They're supposed to be quite durable. They look like they are similar to the best of the ones in my driveway pot nursery. Carol

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:55PM
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So very sorry for your loss. But yes, you certainly can salvage your roses. Same advice--don't strip leaves. If you don't find pots locally for free or for a modest amount, Morton's has all sizes of nursery containers for reasonable prices.

I wish you the best--I bet your roses will be fine. And I appreciate wanting to save plants that have given you so much enjoyment

Here is a link that might be useful: Morton's

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:49PM
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So sorry to hear of the loss of your house. This must be very difficult for you.

Yes, pot them up. If you are able to dig holes at your rental house, place the plants pot and all into the ground. It is best if you cover the rim (and mandatory if you have to use clay pots otherwise moisture will be wicked out of the pot and they would be drier than the surrounding soil). Even if you cannot do this with all of them, doing it with the most vulnerable will help. Burying the pot in soil will keep the plant cooler and help with moisture retention.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:51PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Sorry to hear of your loss. What matters is that your family and pets are safe.

Are you planning to rebuild? Is there still water supply at your damaged house? I would set up irrigation and a timer and leave them in the ground. You likely have enough on your hands for a while. At very stressful times like this, keep it simple.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 5:58AM
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Campanula UK Z8

What a nightmare, Rachel......I am very glad you all survived with hope intact (obviously, since you are turning your thoughts to your garden).
Everyone has given you excellent advice to which I can add little apart from one tiny suggestion. Buy some cheap, bright annuals - seed packets can be had for pennies - rake over any patches of bare earth and scatter seeds about. Things like zinnias, larkspur, nemophilia, phacelia, nicotiana - dead easy stuff which, at a mere whisk of a watering can, will pop up joyously to give you some life and colour to keep you going while waiting for your 'real' garden to get going again....wherever that may be.

courage, my dear!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:24AM
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Sow_what? Southern California Inland


I'm wishing you courage. In case it helps, I'm posting a picture of a Smartpot, a fabric pot that can be purchased online. I'm keeping my "on hold" roses in these. They come in virtually any size you want. They have above-ground fabric pots (as the one shown in the picture), and they have very inexpensive below-ground pots; convenient if you want to plant your roses in the ground and still be able to move them easily. The below-ground pots are just a few dollars each, and they're normally only sold in quantity. But if you call the company, ask for someone in administration, and tell them your story, there's a chance they'll sell you a smaller number at the wholesale price. They've been very good to our foundation. Just another option.

Best wishes with your roses and with building anew.

I apologize for the large picture. The system seems to be resizing my photos. Is there a way to control this?


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:55AM
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You all are so wonderful and helpful. We went out over the weekend and I cut them all back and put them in 5 gallon nursery pots (our local nursery gave them to me). Most of them look ok, but two of them just wilted to nothing...I sure hope they perk up a little. I will admit that I cried my eyes out while I was cutting off all the beautiful new growth.

I think I'm going to put them in pots in the ground until I can figure out what we're doing.

And I took your advice, Camp...I had my kids weed the flower bed here at the rent house, and we threw some seeds out today. Hopefully we'll get some springtime color, and that will make us all feel a little perkier.

Thanks again for everyone's encouragement.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:20PM
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I lived many years in central Texas and dealt with roses in pots...not only is it a good idea to set the pots into the ground, but shade from the noonday sun would also be helpful. They will need very faithful watering, of course---daily if not set in the ground.
Ugh, fire. Deepest sympathy!!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 10:58AM
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alameda/zone 8

Rachel, you have my every sympathy. Our house caught on fire at 4am 20 yrs. ago this Feb. 16 - I saved horse trophies, we and pets were fine, but it went up so fast I was just in shock and could barely do anything - it was gone in 20 minutes. All photos lost, everything. Today, I am in a new, much better home that I just love. I lost family silver, special family pieces, my son's baby things, some furs and clothes I loved, but if I could have one thing back today - it would be the photos. You will be able to replace most of the stuff but the photos you never could.....so be glad of that. Now, one would never know I'd had a fire - amazing how much stuff you can collect in 20 yrs.......but it was a terrible trauma and I am so sorry - but you, family, pets and photos are OK and that is all that matters. We lived in a trailer for 5 months - oh, and a divorce ensued after the fire - so more mess. But I survived it - very happy today, you will be too.

One summer, I had to dig up and replant a bunch of roses to put in a new bed - my baby was due and I had to do it before he was born. I watered them every day and not a one died. Put them in big pots, trim them back a little, keep them in semi shade til they recover and they will do fine. Just don't put them out in the hot sun. Water, for me, was key. Mine that I transplanted never missed a beat.

Throw out some zinnia seeds, put color in pots - design some big pots with the "thriller, filler, spiller" aspect - plant a few tomatoes, peppers.......you will find joy in little things. I was surprised that I was able to come back to life as quickly as I did - be glad you have moved and don't have to smell the burned out house - that smell lingered for a long time and to this day, if I smell anything burning that reminds me of the house, my skin crawls. Best of luck to you - your roses will be fine, esp. the old garden ones. Go to nurseries and ask for their big black pots - the ones in my town are delighted to get rid of them for nothing. If you cant find enough, go to Walmart and get those big plastic colored tubs with handles for $5, drill holes in bottom - they will be plenty big enough to house your roses. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:39PM
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