What makes rose canes die?

contrary_grow(7b)June 30, 2008

I don't think I have any roses where some of the rose canes don't die during the summer. Is that something that I should be concerned about or is it a normal process? Also, when I see one that's half dead, should I go ahead and remove the entire cane?



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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Here's a list, in no particular order...

1. Old age (they only live so long).

2. A disease, such as Canker or Fusarium Wilt.

3. Insect damage that girdles the cane, cutting off circulation to it, or Borer damage.

4. Frigid weather.

5. A genetic predisposition to die back (the infamous Color Magic).

6. A genetic predisposition to die back if partially clipped with a pruner (Fair Bianca comes to mind).

7. Drought (the plant lets parts of itself die in order to survive as a whole).

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 1:51PM
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jardineratx(zone 8, Texas)

My zephrine D. always have problems with canes dying back. The 2 plants I have are healthy in every other respect, but I am trimming dead/dying canes very often. I believe #5 is probably the reason in my case. Celene F. always has dead/dying canes, but in her case she also suffers from BS, so she may have to be replaced. Hopefully, there will be more responses regarding dying canes.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:09PM
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Thank you, hoobv. Can someone tell me if I can stop a cane dying by cutting off the part that's dead or whether it's going to die no matter what I do so that I might as well get rid of the entire cane in the first place?


    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:12PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Can someone tell me if I can stop a cane dying by cutting off the part that's dead or whether it's going to die no matter what I do so that I might as well get rid of the entire cane in the first place?

Have a good careful look at it below the dead part. If it looks good, try just cutting back to healthy tissue. If it then continues to die, you will know what to do with that particular variety in the future.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:49PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

But with tea roses (and any of their kin), let them decide. And don't cut into healthy canes.
The teas in my garden will put out a long arty cane, and then decide that they want to grow more. The new growth won't come out from the end, but from a 'nuckle' (for lack of a better word) within the body of the bush. The rose will just abandon a stem. And in a year, you'll be able to snap it off manually. But were you to cut below it, you'd take the nuckle and with it the places (often two or more) where the rose wanted to make new growth.
Something similar happens with the chinas, only the nuckles are less pronounced. With chinas, I let them be, and then just knock off the dead growth after it becomes a weathered gray.

Which brings up the question of how about the really big canes that die back totally? (The rose did make that decision.) Often I'll cut them back at six or eight inches and then two years later break them off lower. Quelle horreur, you might say. Here's my reasoning. If I go in with my strong secateurs or loppers and cut really low, I will damage the one and two year old canes in the immediate vicinity. You may say you can be very careful. I used to say that, but then I started looking really closely at the damage I was doing and decided to stop messing up good canes in a vainglorious attempt to pretty up canes that were already dead. If the dead ones have thorns, I'll snap the thorns off manually. I'll even remove thorns from live canes that look to damage new basals.
But once a cane is dead of natural causes, I let it be until it's ready to shap off low, on its own.

My natural causes are most often drought and old age.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 7:07PM
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Thanks for this thread. I was about to prune back my Fair Biancas after the current flush is done.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 6:40PM
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Very good advice Anntn6b, thanks.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 10:10AM
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Thank you, Hoovb and Ann. One of these days I'll get the hang of it all. Patience seems to be the key.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 8:27PM
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Hi all, bringing up an older thread because I have a similar question. I'm a learning rose gardener. I have 3 roses that lost major canes this summer--a year-old Felicia, a year-old Duchesse de Brabant and another a 2-year-old Heritage. We had (are still having) a stressful drought summer here in Austin; in my garden it has rained a total of 3 days since May (although I have watered the roses faithfully). I know that could be a cause in their ill-health, but the Felicia started losing the cane early in the summer.

I worried it might be dieback, and if I don't prune out the canes would it affect the rest of the bushes? I'm much more interested in letting them be as suggested but how could I tell if it was just a natural death of a cane?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 10:21PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

If the cane is really DEAD, all the way to the ground, you do need to remove it.
Otherwise, try to heed Ann's advice, particularly when looking at Teas and Chinas.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:12PM
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many times the wind will snap a cane also. sometimes it is below the soil. if a cane has a lot of new growth and looks great and then wilty looking it is prrobably a broken cane. i shouldn't tell this but i STILL have a crimson rambler that has a cane literally hanging on by a thread, and it still looks good a few months later. I can't believe it can even live like that, i probably should end it's suffering or before it gets a fungal infection, but it is just so intrigueing.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:40PM
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As far as I can tell the canes are dead all the way to their bases. They are not below the soil nor are there any fractures. I don't know about Heritage, how to treat that--it tends to defoliate by the end of summer so I know it is the most stressed--but I think with Felicia I'll remove the dead stuff.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:22AM
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Another rose that's prone to dieback is Belinda's Dream, but it is so vigorous that it doesn't miss a beat. I follow Ann's advice, esp. on the older roses. I am noticing that the only grafted roses in my garden--Buck shrub Distant Drums-- have more dieback than any of the other Bucks or other modern shrubs. Wish I'd been patient and purchased them own-root. In drought, watch the tips on the new growth-- if the tips start to sag that is a sign that the plant is drying out, or something is tunnelling underneath and causing it to dry out. Of course, the first year or two you will still be learning what normal new growth looks like as each rose is different. I can't address insects girdling or canker-- even tho my home garden is no-spray, I've never had a rose suffer this type of damage.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:08AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

I've noticed the Bourbons are infamous for dying canes here.
There has been a thread about this.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:47AM
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Carla, I notice this particularly with Louise Odier. I have a couple of other Bourbons that are not so prone to do this so fortunately it is not universal with this class.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:15AM
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linrose(6b KY)

Rugosas seem particularly prone to borers which can kill an entire cane. When I'm lazy while pruning I don't seal the cuts with Elmer's glue. I'm going to start using glue again on all canes as big or bigger than a pencil in diameter. It's not hard to tuck a bottle in my back pocket as I go around pruning.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:39AM
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barbara, i think distant drums must be a weak grower period. janet (fantinlatour) from rogue valley, mentioned in a post this year that it was very difficult to root and get established.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 12:10PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

And then there's the "a rose wants to have a certain density of canes".
I don't know if this is true, but when I clean out canes that have died on a Noisette, I seem to come up with a certain density. (This on the true Noisettes, not the tea noisettes). This density seems to be a near constant,regardless of the cultivar. And almost regardless of the growing conditions. I see springs' efforts abandoned after summer drought (they are a light brown). I see the roses deciding which major canes to retain. This on own root roses where there is some interconnection, but definitely actively making a larger root mass in several directions. And this leads to a mass of vertical canes that can represent six or seven years' growth, but there is a certain spacing-almost as if the rose wanted birds of a certain size to have access.

Felicity- how much like R. multiflora is it? Roses that are multiflora like choose to make secondary but MAJOR canes that emerge at right angles from the original canes. And they grow up, but also in the opposite direction. So, for this kind of growth, I don't think you want to cut so far down as to take away the potential replacement cane, even if it's going in the opposite direction.

It's almost hard to think of rugosas as being the same genus because they make tight, intergrown masses. (This would work to trap snow to give them insulation in colder weather; it might also make them their own protective sanddunes- with their own water table so they could root and have their own microenvironment.)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:34PM
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I promote the use of anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial agents for sanitizing your pruners. I've found that pruner sanitation has made a huge difference in the amount of dieback in my garden. I am now using Lysol Kitchen Cleaner, since I can no longer find the Clorox Kitchen product I prefer. I clean my pruners thoroughly at the end of each day and I soak at least 3 minutes and preferably 10 minutes between plants (I alternate pruners, one in use, one soaking in solution). I've found over the course of this past year that these cleaners do corrode Felcos if they are not cleaned at the end of the day. I try to soak no longer than necessary and definitely do no leave them to soak overnight. I also use a lubricant at the end of the day, after thoroughly cleaning and briefly flaming my pruners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaning Pruners

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 11:32PM
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Bethany_Z5(Rural Z5)

I seem to have this happen to mainly my Rugosas,
most of them are own-root.
How do you narrow down the cause?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 3:21PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I must have missed this thread the first time around. Unfortunately I've been cutting back my Fair Bianca after flushes, but so far no dead canes.

At least in my yard, I am seeing a lot of dead canes which are the result of the late freeze 2 years ago. They were probably damaged, but didn't appear to be. So I let them stay, but frankly these canes have not been productive and are now showing extreme stress if not outright dying. Of course being in drought conditions doesn't help. I plan on doing a very severe prune next spring.

And thanks ann. I used to feel that if I did not cut a cane all the way back to the graft or ground I was doing something wrong. But from now on, I'm using your method.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:58AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

The one time I'll go in and cut lowest is when the cane is mushy. This hasn't happened often, and I don't know what the disease is, but sometimes the cane has leaves that don't look good, and I'll wiggle it to see if it's broken and it's not broken, it's mushy. Then I will cut lowest possible, usually in stages and I follow the cleanliness regime that Cass recommends (sometimes with adding bleach in between cuts to the secateurs if I think the disease has a real lethal potential.)
The cleanliness that Cass talks about is so important.

About rugosas:
We visited a garden Wednesday where we'd watched two beds that were primarily Pink Grootendorsts with a few interplanted forsythia. One bed is gone, replaced with grass. In the eight years we've watched these, only one plant had gotten Rose Rosette, and we'd pruned the sick canes off; that bush is still RRD-free. But with no care, another plant is a RRD mess now and forsythia is taking over. The remaining five Pink G's are mostly dead canes.
In my part of the world, have have seen this dead cane thing on rugosas in my yard, I try to cut them back as far as possible and it makes a better looking rose. But I've seen some mass plantings of rugosas up in the mountains (clear zone 6 cold) and many of the rugosas are mostly similar dead canes. Down here, the rugosas aren't 'no care'. The cause? Sometimes you'll see a swelling on the canes. I've sent some of those to some plant pathologists who couldn't find any boring insects or other pathogen.
I'm afraid we may learn more about rugosa diseases as northern Europeans consider ways to fight and kill rugosas which are becoming known in parts of Scandanavia as invasive alien species.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 10:31AM
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