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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Magic! My Rose Bush Suddenly Has Small White Flowers

Q. I have a rose bush that did well for years but now it only produces small white roses. What happened?

A. The top of your rose bush died but the rootstock survived. Two different plants are combined into one plant through a propagation technique called budding. The top of the plant is desired for its beautiful flowers. The rootstock is selected for a variety of reasons but performs better in soils than the top of the plant if it had roots.
            All rose bushes available commercially are grown on rootstocks. These rootstocks are also roses but their flowers are a different color and size than the rose you selected. In your particular case, the rootstock was perhaps Rosa odorata, a rose that produces small white flowers.
            If you don’t like the plant then remove it and replace it with a variety that grows well in our hot, desert climate. On the website of Weeks Roses, they publish a list of roses by flower color and rose type that perform well in our hot desert. Or talk to some neighbors who love roses and know what they planted.

Roses for the Desert Southwest

            Be careful when pruning roses. Prune them in January but do not cut them back too short. Pruning roses short cause the rootstock to grow vigorously and send up suckers that could dominate an overly pruned rose bush. And remove all suckers coming from the rootstock.
            I noticed in your picture that your roses were surrounded by rock mulch. No, no, no. Roses do not like rock mulch. Get rid of the rock and lay down some compost and cover the compost with three inches of wood chip mulch instead. They will be much happier. 

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