Rose Rootstocks Garden Guide

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Rose Rootstocks

Bud grafting is the most common way for growers to produce roses. Roses have been produced this way for more than a century.

This grafting technique means the rootstock is different than the top blooming part of the rose. A scion (top bud or shoot) of a named flowering variety is grafted onto a selected rootstock, such as 'Dr. Huey'. The 'Dr. Huey' rose rootstock was chosen because of its vigor, durability, and non-invasive qualities.

Rootstock Growth and Control

There are many factors that can cause the rootstock rose to grow out in the first place, but it is basically caused by stress factors from environmental or cultural triggers. If the 'Dr. Huey' rootstock grows out, it produces thorny canes with dark red, single to semi-double blooms.

To retain the integrity of the scion (top), that rootstock growth must be controlled. If that rootstock growth is allowed to keep growing it will eventually overtake the varietal rose.

Removing Rootstock Growth

Removing rootstock growth is not a simple matter of cutting it off at the ground. When this growth just gets pruned off, it can grow back even more vigorously.

  • The best way to remove this growth is to dig down to find where these canes are emanating from and physically tear them from the rootstock.
  • NOTE: Since those canes are very thorny, thick gloves are needed to accomplish this task safely.

  • If after excavation, you find that this growth nodule is growing on a portion of the root, you can use pruners or lopper to cut off that portion of the root including the rootstock canes.

Once this removal is done, make sure you keep the original rose as happy and healthy as possible to prevent future stress:

  • Water regularly and consistently, especially during periods of heat and drought.
  • Fertilize once every two weeks with a naturally derived, water-soluble rose-specific food like Neptune's Harvest 2-6-4. (Don't fertilize past mid-July if you are in a cold climate)
  • Double-check the soil pH adjacent to this rose. The pH should be in the range of 6.0 to 6.5 for optimal growth. If it is too high or too low, apply the appropriate amendment to adjust to the proper level.

Recognize that once the rootstock rose has grown out it usually will happen again, so stay vigilant watching for signs of regrowth and remove those shoots as soon as they are discovered.