Bleeding,gouged,burnt, and discouraged....

Perrysburg, OH(Zone 5a)

I have just come in from a morning of administering tough love to my roses. I'm not sure if I did the right thing or not. I usually only prune a little dead wood in the spring and and old blossoms throughout the summer, but this years my roses just seem to be dying right before my eyes. the blooms have lasted half the time they usually do, one rose has black spot the other is getting chewed by something, I'm feeling quite discouraged at this point, foryears they have been quite self-sufficient, almost insulted by help I only ever fed them banana peels and epsom salts, occasionally commercial food, they seemed to have enjoyed this, until now. They both just seem to be rebelling. So I decided to prune today. I pruned them both by atleast half of their size, cleaned any litter from around the crowns and gave them a good soak. I might even get the fertilizer and fungicide out too. Am I on the right track, Or does anyone think I have just killed them??? One is a hybrid tea the other a David Austin english shrub. Any words of wisdom would help as I love my two roses and would hate to lose them.

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Becky , Dont worry. Those rose bushes are tougher than you think. Now hybrid teas(I have 25) need to bloom on new wood. And the David Austin, is also a hybrid. I dont know what variety you have. But I cut mine back more extensively than you have. And you did the right thing. It will help any shock to the plant. You need to add organic compost to soil once a year. To keep the soil actively decomposing. It will prevent desease, prevent nemotodes. If you are getting some fungus. You may apply a baking soda and soap spray. Or a commercial fungiside .It probably a good idea. Dont give the roses any rose food to force blooms, while the bushes are stressed. This year may not be your year, for flowers. If anything is eating the roses, put some chicken wire around it to protect it. Keep it well watered, dont let them dry out too much. Baby them. Ill bet they will be OK .
Also, if they have wounds ,you may cover them with flat paint. I went and got a green color. (so it doesnt look so awful) It will band aid the wound . And cut out any damage.
Next spring. A layer of compost, then a rose food of some sorts. Then some epsom salts and banana peels, then some manure (I like the composted cow manure.) And go on like this until the blooms end. In the fall cut back the bush to a 1/3 or a 1/2 what ever is makes you comfortable. And mulch heavily ,Marshseed here told me roses like hot heads(flowers) and cool feet , Mulch them at least 2 inches or more. Good luck Becky!

(Zone 6a)

HI My wife and I have been raising hybrid tea roses for over 30 yrs. Still have not been able to stop the black rot or whatever it is....have tried everything. Any suggestions? Such as dig em up and stomp on 'em:)

We have put lots of money in replacing them every couple or three years....the ones that survive the winters....and same story each time. Is there a rose that does not get that crud?

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Bert -I would honestly tell you to get rid of them and grow shrub roses which are less prone to disease. I never grow HTs but there are many here who do and I'm sure they will come up with something :-). Becky - excellent advise from Mich - roses are tougher than you think!!

Perrysburg, OH(Zone 5a)

Thanks Michele,
I really do feel alot better now, My David Austin is "evelyn" I did make the mistake of pruning it alittle this spring, then I found out that I probaly cut off most of this years blooms. I'll be getting some manure today to get started on your suggestions. Your advise is just wonderful thank you so much!!! (you know I really was ready to cry when I saw how much pruned, I truley was, you really did give me some hope!!)

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Times to prune , are before winter dormancy or during, depending on how cold it gets in your area. Fall is a safe time . I would cut the bushes back to 1/2. Then to encourage blooms. Cut off old blooms to the first 5 leaf stem. Leave enough room for a bud to appear.Pruning was confusing to me too, at the beginning. Im glad I made you feel better. I find here in the desert Roses are TOUGH!

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Never be afraid how much you take off when you prune. Just prune at the right time. There is a new method back in England and in Germany I believe, whereby a hedge trimmer is used to cut right through the bushes with excellent results :-)

Olive Branch, MS(Zone 7b)

I'm gonna have to disagree with Michelle about the fall pruning bit. Unless you are in a warm climate like CA with no winter, then fall pruning can be dangerous to your roses. Pruning too late in the year encourages new growth that doesn't have a chance to harden off before winter comes, and leaves the plant much more vulnerable to winter damage and subsequent spring canker. In a cold climate, early spring pruning is the best--when the forsythia is blooming in your area. YOu can "top" a bush if it's large and you are subject to strong winter winds, but only do that after it's gone dormant.

The RNRS method of pruning that Louisa refers to actually works pretty nicely on shrub and floribundas, but it too is really only recommended for warm winter climates. In most cold winter climates, Mother Nature will take care of lots of the pruning for you by killing off quite a bit of the topgrowth, and all you need to do is to cut off the dead wood and tidy things up a bit.

Some varieties respond better to severe pruning than others. The medium to small Austin's don't do too badly when hacked, but the larger ones tend to resent it and consequently bloom production is reduced until the shrub builds up some size again. Never treat a climber this way, because they bloom on old wood, so you'd be cutting off any blooms you might be getting for next year.

If you're experiencing decline in your roses, the first thing I'd suggest would be to take a soil sample to your agricultural extension office. Roses like a pH of about 6.5, and experience stunting if pH is significantly acidic or alkaline. The soil test should also test for NPK as well as trace minerals and will tell you if you have a deficiency in that regard. Feeding epsom salts is not a good idea unless you know specifically that your soil isn't high in magnesium, because an excess of magnesium can cause stunting and decline. Knowing what your soil is composed of will help in deciding what kinds of fertilizers would be appropriate to add.

If your roses are experiencing fungal problems, then you need to decide whether or not you want to incorporate a spray program into your care routine. Roses that are infected with BS cannot keep those energy producing leaves on the plant, and a severe enough a case can kill the plant by keeping it constantly defoliated. Fungicides only prevent disease, they don't cure it, so by the time you spot BS in your garden, it's too late to stop it. All you can do is to start spraying to prevent any future foliage from becoming infected. Fungicides will also stop the spread of current disease, but if you stop spraying, it will continue to advance. Spraying every 7 days and alternating types of fungicides will give you the best control of fungus in your garden, and it really doesn't take that long to do if you don't have 300 roses like I do. :) Just be careful when you spray to protect yourself (no spraying in a bikini) and wear a respirator so you don't breathe in the vapors.

Finally, one possible cause of your roses decline could be the fact that they might be infected with Rose Mosaic Virus. RMV is passed along from plant to plant by grafting onto infected rootstock. It's not contagious to other roses in your garden, so you don't need to worry about that. Many roses from "Mart" stores that are grown in Tyler TX are almost 100% certain to be infected with RMV. It causes a general decline in health and bloom production, as well as increases a rose's chance of winter damage. One of the symptoms of RMV is variegated foliage. Not all roses infected wtih RMV will show this symptom, and those that do won't constantly show it. The only ture diagnosis is a plant pathologist testing a sample, but if your roses continue to decline even though you begin a good fertilizing and watering program and spray them to keep away disease, then I'd have to suspect RMV.

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