My rose has several "trunks"; is this bad or normal?

Rosecandy VA, zone 7March 13, 2014

Hello everyone! It seems I'm always asking "just one more" question about my rose bush. I have the rose Midnight Blue that I bought last year from Heirloom. When it first arrived it had two "trunks" coming from the roots. I decided to let them both grow in case one of them got sick. Then a third trunk started to grow. I didn't notice the third was a trunk until I inspected the rose really closely. From most angles it looked like a large branch of the main trunk because it bent outward instead of straight up. I kept pinching the branches that grew into each other and let all three trunks grow because I knew clipping them would only encourage more growth. Last fall after my bush dropped all its leaves I clipped the two trucks I didn't want to grow back to nubs less than one-half inch tall, hoping it would kill them. It didn't, and now they're growing back (they've started to put out new leaves). If I let them grow then all three trunks will grow into each other and the branches will be very tangled.

Should I keep clipping the extra two trunks and keep only one, or should I just let it be? Is it normal for roses to have multiple trunks? I've never heard of this, and I keep reading to not let branches rub each other which these will do if I let them be. The trunks are about 1/4" from each other and the third one especially tends to rub on the main trunk. The first trunk grew straight up and was the largest, the second was very small but looked healthy, and the third grew diagonally directly against the first (rubbing it) and was almost as large.

My rose is an own root rose, so these aren't suckers. I can't find anything about it online.

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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

It's good.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:02PM
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seil zone 6b MI

New canes coming from the base or ground are called basal canes and they are a very good thing. Let them grow and they will each have more side branches (called laterals) that will produce blooms. The more canes and laterals, the more blooms! You can prune off some of the small lateral canes that start to grow in toward the center of the plant to keep it open and airy inside. This helps the leaves dry faster and slows down fungal diseases somewhat. And if any canes grow so that they cross and rub each other you can take out one of the two and leave the other. Rubbing canes can cause damage that can let disease in too. As the plant gets older and more mature you can take out one or two of the oldest canes to allow the plant to regenerate with newer younger ones. But with such a young plant you shouldn't have to do that for many years yet.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Your rose is not a tree. It is very very good for it to have more than one cane. Lots are good, as long as they do not rub on each other. Roses which only have one cane are called "one cane wonders", and this IS NOT a good thing!

So, be happy that your rose is growing healthy canes and that it has several - that is what it is supposed to do. There is something you can do with the new canes so that they do not grow to entangle each other:

When you are pruning a nearby bush or tree or other woody plant, get a piece of it that is about 3 inches long, and perhaps has cut off branch nubs at the ends. Cut off any leaves. Gently take the most flexible of the rose canes and pull it a bit away from the nearest cane, and put the 3 inch cut off branch between them, so that they do not touch.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:29PM
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seil zone 6b MI

What a clever idea, Jackie! I'd never heard of that one before.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:44PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

Thank you everyone! I had heard of basal canes, but no website I read it on really told me what they were (sort of a "you have to know what it is to understand this" thing). It's nice to know that my rose is doing the healthy thing and not something I need to correct.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 8:20PM
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Seil - that is a trick I was taught by my FIL 25 years ago. He was 76 at that time and grew up in our house, and had been taking care of the garden for 20+ years at that point. I was so ignorant - he walked me all over the garden and told me what each plant was, and who planted it (some had been planted by his grandparents). I usually use rose prunings that are dead to hold the canes apart - those are very strong. It works perfectly if they have branching at each end that you can cut down so that there is something to hold the cane.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 9:01PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

I envy you Jackie. I wish I'd inherited more garden and less silver and china.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:07AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Oh, how wonderful for you, Jackie! I got my love of roses handed down from my Grandmother to my Mother to me and I'm so grateful for it.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 4:17PM
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