Time to give up?

gothiclibrarian(5b)April 19, 2011

Hi! Back in 2003 I planted a lovely Great Maiden's Blush from Pickering...so it was grafted.

Fast forward to 2010 and we moved to a new home, but I couldn't bear to leave her behind. So we bagged her up and took her to the new house (not a mean feat considering her size, mind you).

She survived the harsh transplant as well as the ensuing Icepocalypse that was this past winter...and has put out a lot of new growth, but it's all at the ends of her canes...she's soooooo leggy with no new canes visibly starting as well as no leafy growth on any below about 2 feet. I'm wondering if it's time to give up on this plant and get one on its own roots.

Can any amount of fertilizing help my lovely Maiden at this point?

TIA for any help! She's one of my favorites and I hate to see her go :*(



Here is a link that might be useful: gothiclibrarian.net

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

It's time to start pruning. Actually that was probably a couple of years ago :-)

Get in there, and cut off maybe a quarter of the canes as far down as you can. Try to pick ones that look the oldest. The usual recommendation is one third, but since it is probably still getting reestablished, going slow isn't a bad idea. Fertilize it normally, which for a once bloomer is organic/slow release once in the spring.

Next year, do the same thing.

Next year, do the same thing.

Next year, do the same thing. By now you have a rose that is only four years old, and should have a much better feel for what 'old' canes that should be removed look like. I'm guessing that alba canes are good for about 5-6 years, but it can vary by class and variety.

An own-root one is going to have behaved exactly the same way since this is a function of the scion and not the rootstock.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 3:44PM
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In my defense, I pruned the heck out of her last year and removed all her super old canes when we did the transplant.

Here she is today...

Thanks again, I really want her to be healthy again!


Here is a link that might be useful: gothiclibrarian.net

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 3:53PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I'm afraid I tend to take more drastic measures than you might want to consider. I would buy an own-root rose from a reputable company and pay a fond farewell to your present plant. As a second choice I would buy a new plant, chop the present one down to about 6 inches and fertilize it with alfalfa meal and keep it well-watered. Worst case scenario - if the old one recovers you now have two lovely plants!


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 5:22PM
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Anika, there are only two things which will stimulate new leaves out of those lower canes. The first is to cut them off lower, as has been suggested. The second is to peg them down or train them along stakes as you would a leggy Hybrid Perpetual or a climber.

The capillaries taper as the go up, just as the canes do. The foliage has pores on the back, stomata, and they open and close to transpire water just as our skin pores do to allow us to sweat. The tapered capillaries combined with the adhesion factor of water (water is sticky and will rise above its level in tapered tubes), and the leaves "sweating" permit water to flow from the root tips to the cane ends. This maximizes sap pressure, sugars, auxins and hormones at the cane ends, forcing them to grow and form flower buds when all conditions are met.

This is why climbers shoot up those long canes and flower only at the ends, unless the canes are bent off the vertical, slowing the sap pressure and forcing lateral growth, which then flower themselves. The exact same thing can be done with many OGRs and more modern shrubs. Anything with flexible enough wood to be pulled more horizontal and secured there, will develop the lateral growth and eventually flowers along the canes.

In Victorian and Edwardian times, "pegging" was a style which allowed the rangy growth of Hybrid Perpetuals to be harnessed for more flower production. "Self pegging" is where you drive a stake behind the cane, then gradually bend the cane around in a circle, like a hoop and secure it to the cane and then back to itself. This will stimulate that cane to form growth from every growth bud along the cane which is not vertical. It slows the sap flow and equalizes the pressure on the buds which forces them to develop and break into growth.

You can train your OGR as you would a climber, with similar results as you would receive from training a climber. The alternative is to prune it lower down the canes. Since it's a once flowering plant, wait until it has finished flowering, then prune the canes you want to remove so new flowering growth for next year is produced. If you want, then try rooting the cuttings you are pruning off. Why buy a new one when it isn't patented, it WILL root and you have the cuttings which would otherwise be thrown away? Kim

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 5:50PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

That looks fine for a plant that was recently moved. I was thinking of something a lot larger and woodier.

Just give it time.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:32AM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

Anika, you still have claim to my two own-root Great Maiden's Blush (at least they are supposed to be GMB) from RVR if you want them. XOXO

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 10:25AM
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It looks fine to me, also, for a plant that has gone through what it went through. If you are concerned you might try rooting your pruning wood. But while I suspect it will recover, you don't have a huge investment in time on this plant. If you'd prefer to get a new one, then go for it!

(also a librarian, more Pre-Raphaelite than Gothic)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 10:45AM
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I think she looks pretty...plant some lavender in front of her to cover up the leggy parts :)

Hidcote lavender grows very well in my zone 4 garden and doesn't mind being watered with the roses. I get mine at Lowe's (usually in July) I never prune it, but it drops the old branches and blooms beautifully, every summer!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 12:05PM
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I'm totally with Mad Gallica. I'd leave it alone right now and let it get more established. If it likes its new home and is growing well I think you'll see new canes this summer (a few weeks after the end of the late spring blooming season) arising from the base. They should behave more normally next spring with regards to how they leaf out, and then you'll be in a better position to assess how it's growing and how that works for you.

Roses are shrubs and shrubs take time to mature, especially after a rough transplant.

If you don't want lavender (or some similar long lasting shrubby flowering plant) at the base of your rose try putting in some medium to tall annuals this summer (if there are any you like).

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:05PM
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