Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Caring for a 30+ Year-Old Miniature Rose

I have a miniature rose bush, thirty plus years old. It has done very well over this length of time, however, we have moved two times since Spring 2006. I first transplanted it in a sunny location facing West when we moved in the Spring of 2006 and it did well (even though it developed a fungus and I had to spray it with a rose fungicide when the leaves had a grayish coating on them). It bloomed well the rest of the summer. When we moved to this house in the Fall of 2007, I planted it once again in a sunny spot (this time facing South). Now, after looking good the remainder of that Fall and earlier this Spring, although it has flower buds there are no leaves. Can something be eating them, or as a local nursery employee suggested, could it be in a location where there is poor drainage? There are some darkish colorings to part of the stems.

Thank you for any light you can shed on this problem. I would hate to lose this very nice plant.

Two moves in two years is a lot of stress for a shrub that is over thirty years old. Young plants can often bounce back pretty quickly while for older and more mature plants it can be harder for them to recuperate. Just so you know, it might be a couple years before you are sure that the rose is ok in its new home and on the road back to recovery. And even though people then (I especially) often try and overcompensate with more action, sometimes the best plan of attack is simply good observation and patience. As long as the spot gets over 4-6 hours of direct sun and has good air circulation the rose should be able to photosynthesize and put out a new flush of foliage. The question and concern about drainage is an excellent one, especially if you see any darkening of stems which can be a sign of rot. Next time there is a heavy rain go out and inspect the area to make sure there is no sitting water that is not draining quickly enough. Also make sure your rose is planted high enough. It is important that you can see the flair at the bottom of the branches where the roots begin. If the shrub was not planted right at or a tiny bit above the soil line then the roots might not be getting the fresh air they need and the stems might be in contact with too much moisture, which they do not want. Make sure that the rose is not too crowded – they do like their space. If you mulch, a thin layer would suffice and again, avoid any major mounding of soil or mulch around the crown of the plant. I hope you do not have to move it again or take any major action that might only add stress, but keep me posted and hopefully I can help you keep your miniature rose healthy and beautiful.

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