Knock Out Rose Recovery

brian_vJuly 6, 2006

In the summer of 2004, I planted a Knockout Rose on the east side of my house. It did very well with little maintenance other than water and some plant food. I did no trimming other than removing dead buds. In The spring/summer of 2005 it exploded with new growth and flowers, again I did very little. However, in the spring/summer of 2006, the plant appeared very sickly and has only a tiny bit of new growth. I have since cut back all of the branches that appeared dead, leaving my plant with only two health looking (green) stems. Is this plant beyond help? Should I cut it back even more, or move on?

Also, in the future, how much pruning should I do in the late summer/early fall?


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In the Spring, only prune the deadwood and any crossing (or thin branches). Fertilize after this with a good fertilizer like Magic Mills, which you can buy on-line. After the first flush in June, prune out the faded blooms to the next set of leaves. Stop pruning and fertilzing after mid-August. The reason being is that you don't want to encourage any new growth at this time as your garden nears Winter time. Hope this helps! Oh, and one more thing, it sounds like you pruned your plant way too much. Stop doing this. You've got to give the plant some time to grow. Patience is important when gardening - especially so when growing roses! Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 2:09AM
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mrmorton(z5 IL)

From the perspective of someone in the industry, I'll tell you this. We've had to replace hundreds of KO Roses that didn't make it through this past winter. In my own garden I have three of them planted in a group. This spring, only one came back with any vigor. A second had a bit of new growth, then stalled out. The third died.
I decided to give the second one a chance, and am glad I did. It finally decided it was going to do something a couple weeks ago. Lots of new growth and buds on it now.
I replaced the other one.
I always prune my roses in late winter/early spring.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 1:21PM
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Hey Mr. Morton,
I see your postings all time on the rose forum. Anyway, I know what you mean about KO. I had two - one died last year. The remaining one had around 75% winter dieback. I pruned all of this off and the rose rebounded beautifully. I have to admit that I don't fertilize this rose at all and its done really well. Now, I have two other KOs, but in containers. They had very sparse blooms and growth at first. I then started feeding them alfalfa tea and BOY! what a huge difference. They have so many blooms now and new growth. This stuff is MAGIC, even if it sticks like crap ~ well, at least the first day or so.

P.S. Can I ask where do you work?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 4:16PM
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mrmorton(z5 IL)

Actually, Bella, I post mostly in the Cottage Gardens forum. I have seen your posts there, so I imagine thats where you saw mine.
I've heard of the effects of Alfalfa tea, but have never tried it. Where do you get it?
I work for Clarence Davids & Co., at the Plainfield branch. We also have branchs in Matteson(South) and Ingleside(North).

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 9:49AM
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I bought the alfalfa pellets out here in Woodstock at one of the Feed stores. You would probably get the same effect with Magic Mills. MM can be purchased on-line and it does contain alfalfa pellets. Its an amazing product.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 10:36PM
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