Temecula Valley Rose Society
Frequently Asked Questions About Roses
Content Last Modified: 12 Sep 1996
Written by Bill Chandler.
"The Rose FAQ" © 1996 Bill Chandler. All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Information about this document
2. Rose Care
4. Rose Characteristics
6. FAQ contributors
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Welcome to "The Rose FAQ", a collection of six informative
articles about roses. Note that many things related to growing roses will depend upon
your local climate. Contact your local rose society or nursery
to find out how to grow roses in your area.
The FAQ has received only minor changes during the last few months.
Back to Table of Contents...
Here are some of the reasons that roses don't bloom.
The rose plant is not getting enough sun.
Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sun a day to perform well.
The rose needs more water. Roses like at least an inch
of water per week during the growing season.
The plant has been given too much fertilizer, especially Nitrogen.
Too much fertilizer can either damage the plant
or cause it to grow extra leaves and stems
at the expense of blooms.
The rose is a new plant.
Don't expect too much from a plant during its first year.
Rose is a once blooming variety.
This means it will bloom only once a year
in the late spring or early summer.
Soil pH is too low or too high.
If the pH is not in the range of 6.0 to 6.8 (ideally 6.5)
then nutrient uptake will be reduced,
and the plant won't be getting the food it needs
to produce flowers.
Not enough foliage.
If the bush doesn't have adequate foliage,
it can't produce the food it needs to make new flowers.
Inadequate foliage may result from disease or too little fertilizer.
Roses prefer a full day of sun.
Give roses at least 6 hours of direct sun a day.
Morning sun is especially important because it
dries the leaves which helps prevent disease.
In general, roses do poorly in shady conditions.
Plants bloom less, are leggy, and are more likely to get diseases.
However, many Hybrid Musks and some Albas can tolerate partial shade.
The Floribunda "Gruss An Aachen" can be grown in partial shade.
Some other roses that may grow in partial shade are the Rugosas,
Iceberg(FB), Zephirine Drouhin (Bourbon),
Souvenir du Docteur Jamain(HP) and Madame Plantier.
Roses appreciate lots of water.
Water generously, at least 1 inch/week,
preferably 2 inches/week during growing season.
Water every 4-7 days during the summer when needed.
Each bush needs about 4-5 gallons/week during the hot summer.
Roses get all their food either through their leaves
(foliar feeding) or through their roots.
The only medium for transporting food is water.
Infrequent deep watering is preferred to frequent light
watering to help promote a deep root system.
Deep root systems help the rose to survive both droughts,
and winter freezes.
Frequent, light watering causes roots to form very near the
soil surface, making the plant more susceptible to summer
'baking' and winter freezes.
Try to avoid getting the leaves wet (which promotes disease)
when watering late in the day.
However, on hot days wetting the foliage can reduce transpiration
and relieves heat stress.
Deadheading is cutting off flowers as they wither or don't look
as good. Old blooms left on the plant may have been pollinated and
may begin to form seed pods (hips). The formation of hips requires
a lot of energy from the plant and slows flower production. By
preventing the formation of hips, deadheading encourages the rose
bush to grow new flowers.
The choice of which spot to deadhead at is influenced by
what shape you want the bush to take, and which direction you want
a particular cane to grow. Usually, you will want to
cut the stem at a 45-degree angle just above an outward-facing leaf.
Make sure the high side of the cut is the side the leaf set is on.
To deadhead, remove the flower by making a diagonal cut
just above the next 5 or 7-leaf branch down on the stem.
The idea is to cut to a bud eye capable of producing a healthy cane.
If this would cause too much of the cane to be removed, a 3-leaf
branch can be chosen instead. The first year cut back to the first
3 or 5-leaf branch. In following years cut far enough down to get
to a 5-leaf branch with a leaf bud that is facing outward.
This will open up the plant.
Once blooming roses do not need to be deadheaded. They bloom
once and then they are finished blooming for the year.
However, once-blooming roses may be (in fact, should be) pruned after
they are finished blooming. They should NOT be pruned in the fall
or before they bloom because they bloom on the previous year's growth.
Stop deadheading as of September 1 in zones 4 and 5.
It is a good practice to let the last roses on HT's produce hips
because it makes them more frost hardy. It causes the plant to
undergo chemical changes that slow down growth, inhibit blooming
and generally prepare for dormancy by focusing its energy on
'hardening' the canes. The formation of hips tells the plant
that it's "done its job" and can now rest from its labors.
There are three main purposes to be accomplished when pruning
- Keep the plant healthy.
- Encourage the plant to grow in a desired shape.
- Encourage blooming, either more blooms or larger blooms.
The proper tool for most pruning is a sharp clean set of
bypass pruners. Anvil pruners should not be used for roses as
they crush the stem being cut. A saw or lopping shears may be
used to cut very large canes (1/2 inch diameter or greater).
All pruning cuts on canes greater than 1/4 inch diameter should
be sealed with nail polish or glue to prevent cane borers from
Proper pruning will help keep a rose bush healthy. Dead and
diseased wood should be removed as soon as possible to prevent
further damage to the bush.
The future shape of the bush can be influenced by the location
of each pruning cut. Opening up the bush to increase air
circulation will help prevent diseases.
Since rose bushes like to send out a strong lateral cane at
the node just below a pruning cut, try to make pruning
cuts about 1/4 inch above an "outward" facing leaf bud.
By doing this and removing plant material from the center of the
bush you will create a more open vase-shaped plant less
susceptible to disease. Whenever two canes cross each other,
one can be removed.
Roses can be encouraged to bloom better if thin, weak and
non-productive wood is removed to allow the plant to concentrate
its blooming on the larger healthier canes. Generally with Hybrid
Teas any cane thinner than a pencil should be removed.
Plants may be pruned hard to encourage larger blooms but fewer blooms
(commonly done with Hybrid Teas.) Or the plant may be pruned lightly
and allowed to grow larger and produce more flowers that are smaller
(commonly done with some shrub roses.)
Prune first year plants only lightly to allow them to
concentrate on establishing a strong root system.
Local advice is preferred for this question, but here are
some general guidelines for winter care of rose bushes for those
living in colder climates. The major dangers to the plant in winter
are the drying of the wind, the effect of alternate thawing and
freezing cycles on the plant when winter temperatures fluctuate,
the inability of the plant to take in water if the soil is frozen,
and damage from the cold itself to the canes and bud union.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, plant cold-hardy
roses. Your choices are more restricted that way, but
you will save yourself a lot of work and heartbreak. Many
once blooming old roses are very cold-hardy. Of the repeat
blooomers, rugosas are rock-hardy, and many Austins and
other shrub roses will do okay. Many yellow and lavender
roses are especially tender.
Unfortunately cold-hardiness is not an exact science;
conditions such as wind affect roses severely in cold
weather (by drying them out), and so zone ratings are only
a first approximation. Beware of books that rate roses
'cold hardy' or 'not cold hardy' — they are likely referring to
conditions in the UK, which has mild winters. Beware also
of catalogs that overrate cold-hardiness because they want
to move more product.
When in doubt, plant own-root roses. If they die back to
the ground in a particularly severe winter, they will grow
back from the roots fairly quickly. This advice is not
applicable to once-bloomers, because these usually flower
only on the last year's canes. Own-root Old Roses
and English roses are available. Hybrid Teas are almost
always sold as grafted plants, and it is difficult to find
In the fall, reduce the amount of Nitrogen fertilizer used.
This, combined with lower temperatures, will slow the production
of new tender growth, and will allow the existing growth
to harden off.
Stop deadheading about September 1 for zones 4 and 5. This
will allow the plant to form hips. The formation of hips
encourages the plant to slow down growth, slow blooming,
and harden the canes, all preparing the plant for dormancy.
Understanding rose dormancy
will help to determine the proper time to prune during the
period from late Fall to early Spring.
During dormancy, the sap has left
the canes and the canes are simply empty tubes of cellulose.
Pruning too early (before the sap runs back) cuts some of
the nutrients out, so you must be sure the plant is dormant
before fall (winter) pruning.
Winter dieback generally occurs from the end of the branches
(canes). Pruning removes the available length that can die back
before reaching the ground. Also, pruning a semidormant plant
stimulates growth and sap flow in the pruned region.
For a plant going dormant, this is bad because it inhibits
dormancy. For a plant waking up (springtime) it's good
because it stimulates growth. Ideally pruning should occur
before sap is fully flowing.
To prevent disease/fungus from overwintering, clean the
rose bed by removing leaves and other debris. Spray the
bush with dormant oil to kill bacteria on the bush and
on the ground.
Protect the crown of the rose. This is critical since the
crown is where you want the new canes to come from. There
are several methods of protection to choose from.
- Cover the bed at least a foot deep with tree leaves.
Do not use rose leaves as they may harbor disease.
Oak leaves are best as they seem to drain better.
Cover the bed with straw.
Use rose cones.
- Make a mound with soil or mulch to cover the crown.
- Wrap the whole plant in burlap if necessary, in
addition to one of above methods of protecting the
Timing is important. Covering the rose too early is
unwise as it may prevent the rose from hardening
properly and will slow the onset of dormancy. Covering
the rose too late may risk damage from the cold.
Climbers or long canes may benefit from being tied to
avoid thrashing from the wind. Canes may be protected
from drying winter winds by wrapping them in burlap with
a layer of straw for insulation. In severe climates
long canes may need to be tied and buried.
Keep the soil well-drained, especially as the spring rains
Back to Table of Contents...
Blackspot is a fungus that causes black spots about 1/16 to 1/2
inches in diameter to form on the leaves and sometimes stems.
The infected leaves later turn yellow around the spots and eventually
fall from the plant. In bad cases, blackspot can severely defoliate
a rose bush. The conditions that promote blackspot are wet leaves,
splashing water and warm temperatures.
Here are some ways to combat blackspot. Most of these methods
also apply to preventing and treating powdery mildew.
Pick a variety of rose resistant to blackspot. For example, many
are quite resistant to blackspot.
Use watering methods that don't get the leaves wet:
drip watering, using a soaker hose, or just soaking the
ground with a light stream from a garden hose. If overhead
watering is used, do so in the morning so the leaves can
dry off before evening.
Remove ALL diseased leaves from the plant or ground immediately
to prevent further spreading of the disease. Infected leaves
never get better, they just spread the disease.
Prune infected canes severely in late winter.
Prune away crossing canes and open the center of the bush to
allow sunlight and airflow to more of the plant.
Blackspot is transmitted by water splash.
Remove leaves close to the ground (the first 6-8 inches) which are
more susceptible to getting water splashed on them. Mulch well
to minimize water splashing onto leaves. If a plant had a lot
of blackspot the previous year, remove the old mulch in early Spring,
allow the area to dry and replace with clean new mulch.
Keep the plant well watered. A weak or stressed plant is more
susceptible to disease.
Preventative spray treatments for blackspot.
Chemical fungicides can be very effective in preventing blackspot
and are usually applied every 7-14 days.
It is most important to spray the undersides of the leaves.
FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS EXACTLY.
Too much fungicide can cause leaf burn.
It is best if rose plants are watered well before spraying.
Spraying during very hot weather can damage leaves.
Early morning and early evening are the best times to spray.
Avoid spraying under windy conditions.
READ THE PRODUCT LABEL carefully and wear proper equipment when spraying,
such as eye, mouth and nose protection.
Since a single fungicide may not completely wipe out all the fungi,
using that fungicide over and over may actually cause fungus
to build up a resistance to that fungicide.
Alternating between two fungicides, such as Triforine (Funginex)
and Daconil, is recommended to keep resistant fungi from building up.
Fungicides generally can prevent blackspot,
but do not cure an existing case of blackspot.
Some gardeners wishing to avoid fungicide use have tried using
baking soda to help prevent blackspot with mixed results.
Combine 1 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
and either 2 tablespoons horticultural oil
or a few drops of Ivory liquid soap with 1 gallon of water.
Mix as well as possible, and spray both sides of the leaves once a week.
The Ivory liquid helps the baking soda stick to the leaves.
Reapply after a rain.
Baking soda changes the P.H. of the leaves, helping to prevent blackspot.
Spraying with baking soda works for some gardeners,
but others have found that baking soda
is not effective enough in their climate.
This fungus forms a powdery white or grayish coating on the
upper surface of young leaves and sometimes on the buds. Infected
leaves crumple and become distorted.
Unlike blackspot, wet conditions actually inhibit the development of
powdery mildew. It can not reproduce in water.
It thrives during high humidity but forms on dry leaves.
Warm dry days, cool dry nights are ideal for powdery mildew.
One of the best ways to avoid powdery mildew is to keep things
as airy as possible. Roses planted too close to a wall may not
get enough airflow. Prune away crossing canes and open the center
of the bush to allow sunlight and airflow.
Also, spraying the foliage with a mixture of 1 tablespoon baking soda
per 1 gallon of water can be effective.
Aphids are tiny insects about a 1/16 to 1/8 inches long, usually
light green, red or black. They come in the spring and damage tender
A hard spray of water from the hose will help remove aphid
infestations. Aphids reproduce quickly and this may need to be
repeated every couple days for a couple weeks.
Aphids have a mutually beneficial relationship with ants,
so ants need to be controlled if aphids are to be controlled.
Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids and can be used
to control aphids. If ladybugs are purchased, water the area well
and release the ladybugs around sunset to discourage them
Leaf cutter bees cut semi-circle shaped holes in the leaves
of roses. They pose no real threat to rose health, but they
drive exhibitors crazy.
Back to Table of Contents...
Here is a list of some very fragrant roses. (HT means hybrid tea.)
- HT: Double Delight (mentioned most often), spicey, red-white bicolor
- HT: Fragrant Cloud, reddish-orange
- HT: Mr. Lincoln, dark red
- HT: Crimson Glory, red
- HT: Chrysler Imperial, red
- HT: Papa Meilland, dark red
- HT: Perfume Delight, pink
- HT: Secret
- ER: Gertrude Jekyll, pink
- ER: Othello, dark red
- Alba: Felicite Parmentier, once-blooming
- Damask: Mme. Hardy, white, once-blooming
- Tea: Sombreuil, cream-white
- Bourbon: Souvenir de la Malmasion
- HP: Souvenir du Dr Jamain
Many of the David Austin roses are
fragrant. So are many of the Old Roses,
such as the Damasks.
When posting this question to the newsgroup, include as much
information about the rose as possible, such as the following:
What kind of rose is it?
(climber, Hybrid Tea, Old Rose, Species, etc.)
Aproximate plant size (4ft tall by 4ft wide)
Flower color, bud color, flower size (e.g. 4 inch diameter)
Approximate number of petals per flower
Foliage color (light, medium, or dark green)
Foliage description (dull, shiny, leathery, large, small, etc.)
How many leaflets per leaf on average (3,5,7, etc.)
Once blooming (blooms once a year) or repeat blooming
Thorns (many, few, large, hooked, straight)
Fragrance (none, light, heavy, spicy, fruity, tea, etc.)
Though highly sought after, no blue roses exist yet. Some roses
are advertised as blue, but they are actually lavender or something.
Most lavender roses are difficult to grow and are quite susceptible
Some of the bluer roses are Blue Girl, Blue Jay(HT), and
Reine des Violettes(HP).
A couple of true purple roses are Cardinal de Richelieu and
The genetics are just not there for producing a true blue color
in roses. It will probably be necessary to use gene splicing to
produce the first blue rose.
No true black roses exist. Some roses sold as black roses are
actually dark red or maroon. The petals of many of these dark red
roses tend to sunburn easily. To see that a rose is not truly black,
hold it up next to a piece of black construction paper. To make a
dark red rose appear blacker, put its stem in water that has black
ink in it.
Below is an incomplete list of some roses that have been
mentioned when black roses are discussed. Next to some of the roses
a very subjective description of the color is given.
Black Jade: dark red miniature
Cardinal de Richelieu: dark purple Gallica
Chateau de Clos-Vougeot: HT, deep red blossoms, blackish highlights,
Francis Dubreuil: Tea rose
Guinee: very, very dark red
Mr. Lincoln: HT, dark red
Nuits de Young: purple Moss rose
Oklahoma: HT, deep crimson
Souvenir du Dr Jamain: Hybrid Perpetual, dark red/maroon
Sympathie: deep red climber
Taboo: Popular dark rose that has deep red
flowers with darker edges. It reportedly
has nearly black buds.
The Prince: English rose, very, very dark red/purple
Tuscany Superb: Gallica, deep maroon velvet
In 1969, English Roses, often called David Austin Roses, were
introduced by the English rose hybridizer David Austin.
David Austin tried to create roses that combine the best elements
of Old Roses (roses varieties from before 1867) and Modern
Roses (such as Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and Grandifloras).
Most English Roses have flowers resembling Old Rose flowers,
cupped and rosette-shaped old-fashioned flowers, usually with many
petals. English Roses generally repeat flower well, like the
Hybrid Teas and other Modern Roses. English Roses are available
in a wide variety of colors, such as yellows not very common in Old Roses.
Many English Roses have the strong fragrances of some of the Old Roses.
There is a FAQ article called
which is part 6/6 of the FAQ.
Back to Table of Contents...
There are two primary ways to propagate roses. Asexual
reproduction is usually used to produce a duplicate of the parent
plant. Sexual reproduction, i.e. growing roses from seed, is
primarily used to create new varieties of roses.
Common methods of asexual propagation of roses are softwood
rooting, hardwood rooting, and bud grafting. Limited space
permits only a brief description of softwood rooting.
Old Roses, English Roses and Miniatures are generally
good candidates for rooting cuttings because they usually grow
vigorously on their own roots. Modern Roses such as Hybrid Teas
and Floribundas are usually sold budded onto different rootstock.
Some Modern Roses do grow vigorously on their own roots, while
others do not. Below is a description of softwood rooting from
Karen Baldwin with some changes.
ROSE PROPAGATION À LA ZIPLOC® BAGGIES
MAKING THE CUTTING
Preferably take a cutting on which the bloom is barely spent, so that
all the petals have just recently dropped off. It is okay to take a
cutting earlier, but at least make sure color is showing in the bud.
These are indications of the maturity of the wood in the stem —
you want something in between the extremes of greenwood and hardwood.
Try to have at least four separate leafsets under the bloom, and a
five-leaflet set at the bottom of the cutting. (Each spot where the
leafsets meet the stem forms a "node," where the bud eyes are, and
from which roots can form. Hybrid teas tend to have fewer "nodes"
spaced farther apart than Old World roses, and thus require a longer
cutting, generally speaking). Make a clean bottom cut with a sharp,
clean pruning tool 1" below the last node.
Try to leave about 1/2" of cane above the top leafset.
Keep your cuttings fresh in water while you gather more,
until you're ready to plant them.
PLANTING THE CUTTING:
Fill a 1-gallon Ziploc® baggie 1/4 to 1/3 full (about 3") with
STERILE loose potting mix. (e.g. 1/2 peter's potting soil and 1/2
A 2-gallon Ziploc® baggie may be better since it will give the
leaves more room, but use the same depth of soil you'd use in a
1-gallon baggie, since you'll be watching for roots growing
through it, later.
Moisten the mix but do not make it extremely wet. Use 1 tsp.
miracle gro per 1 quart of water, to provide some initial
nutrients (which may help avoid yellowing and leaf-drop).
With your hands, firm the soil down well, within the baggie.
The soil should be very damp, but there should be no standing
water in the bottom.
Snip off the stem a little above the top-most leaf set
(i.e., remove the flowering part).
Try to leave about 1/2" of cane above the top leafset.
Strip off the bottom two sets of leaves (where the stem
will be pushed into the soil).
Score the bottom part of the stem along its length (vertically)
for an inch or so. (An exacto-knife works nicely for this
purpose, but fingernails will do fine.) Roots will form
along this score.
Dip scored end of cutting into rooting compound, a couple inches
deep. Knock off the excess (you can get too thick a layer).
Stick the cutting a couple of inches into the soil.
If insects have eaten the leaves during previous rooting attempts,
you may wish sprinkle a very small amount of diazinon or other
insecticide on the soil surface. Be especially careful if you
are using chemicals indoors.
Mist the cutting and the interior surfaces of the baggie with
a spray bottle filled with the following mix (to avoid fungus
and mildew growth in the closed "terrarium" environment). Do
not use spraycan fungicides or insecticides ... in the closed
environment, the chemicals can overwhelm then kill a new young plant.
- 1 quart water
- 1 tsp. miracle gro
- 1 tsp. baking soda (no more!)
- 2-3 drops dishwashing liquid (to make it cling)
Pull the ZipLloc® baggie almost shut. Breathe into it until it expands
kinda like a balloon, and zip it the rest of the way closed.
(Keep it closed unless it deflates enough to warrant
breathing into it again.)
Put in bright, INDIRECT light –
(e.g., behind sheers in a southeast-facing window)
WARNING!!! if it gets direct sun or too much heat
it will scorch (eventually turning black) and likely die!
You may have to experiment a bit to find the best exposure;
you might hedge your bets by placing some in different
locations until you find the best spot for your house.
Clear away any leaves that might drop from the stem,
reinflating the baggie after removing them.
POTTING THE CUTTING:
Look for roots along the bottom of the baggie in two or three
weeks. A few stubborn ones may take six weeks, and there
is a report of one incredibly obstinate plant that took
over 10 weeks!
Acclimation to air outside the bag is tricky. To be careful,
- When you see some top growth, unzip the baggie just a little
for a few hours the first day, then seal it up again.
the next few days, unzip the baggie the same amount, but leave
it open for a few more hours each day.
- Next, leave it open
all the time, but increase the amount the bag is unzipped each
day for about a week, until it's fully open. Don't rush it.
Put good soil into a 1-gallon pot, leaving room for the addition
of the new plant and its soil. Place the baggie atop the soil,
and cut the plastic away (this can be slightly tricky). Firm
the soil around the plant only very lightly.
Keep the same lighting in the same location (protected from too
much direct sun) for a week, leaving the cutting unmolested
to give its disturbed roots a chance to heal.
After they have spent a week in their pots, you can either move
them into more light inside for the first winter), or (preferably)
move them outside.
When moved outside, set them in indirect sun at first, bright but
shaded, and leave them there for a week. (If your area gets cold
at night, you may need to move them inside at night for a while.)
The next week, move the plant bit by bit toward and then into full
sun. (Note: Gro-lights don't normally put out nearly enough light
for roses, though it can probably be done.)
When kept inside for their first winter, especially in zones
5 and below, place them in a spot where they'll get more light.
When planted outside in the same summer they were
rooted, even with a heavy mulch, many more will be lost to winter
kill since the new little roses won't always have enough roots to
carry them through. Also, chinooks (intense, warm winds) do
their damage too. By keeping them inside for their first winter,
and planting them in the spring, they will be better-established
by the next fall.
Plant late enough to avoid those nasty springs that get warm,
causing the roses to break dormancy, only to follow up with
a hard freeze!
Remember that your rose will grow in size; prepare a good-sized
area of soil with added organic material as appropriate to your
An ARS (American Rose Society) rating is a yearly rating
from 1 (worst) to 10 (best) given to a variety of rose. This is
a U.S. national rating, combining several district ratings.
The district ratings are an average of individual ratings
given by rose growers, beginners to experienced.
The ARS ratings are print yearly in the
"Handbook for Selecting Roses".
It can be obtained from the address below:
- American Rose Society
- P.O. Box 30,000
- Shreveport, LA 71130-0030
- phone: 1-800-637-6534
The American Rose Society has an excellent World Wide Web page
Back to Table of Contents...
The FAQ is compiled and posted by Bill Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This FAQ has been created by the generous efforts of
several readers of rec.gardens.roses.
The following individuals, and others, have made suggestions and/or
contributions to the FAQ (parts 1 through 6).
Pascal A. Dupuis,
Back to Table of Contents...
This disclaimer applies to all parts of the FAQ.
The FAQ articles are intended as amateur information.
Use FAQ information at your own risk, especially
Trade names used in the FAQ are solely for the purpose
of providing specific information. Mention of businesses
or trade names does not signify approval of any business
"The Rose FAQ" © 1996 Bill Chandler All rights reserved.
Before reprinting a FAQ article (or major portions of one)
for other than personal use, please obtain permission
from the author of the article.
Back to Table of Contents...
end of Frequently Asked Questions about Roses
rec.gardens.roses FAQ, part 1/6