Black stems - dead?

gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)March 7, 2009

Today was a nice day, so I was out inspecting the gardens. I noticed one of my roses has completely black stems, so I have a feeling it didn't make it through the winter. I'm not surprised - it was just planted last summer, and a rabbit had eaten all the leaves off of it by the end of summer, so it wasn't in a real strong state going into winter. Very disappointing though, because it's one that's difficult to obtain - Nicole. The place I got it last year (Heirloom) doesn't have it this year.

When the stems are completely black, is that a pretty good indicator that the plant is dead?


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mike_rivers(z5 MI)

No, the stems are probably dead but Heirloom plants are all own-root and chances are good the crown and roots are still alive. The usual advice, and I think it's good advice, is to do nothing until early April (when the forsythia starts to bloom is a good signal) and then prune back gradually until you see white pith on the cut surfaces of the stems. Hopefully, this will occur at or just below soil level and your plant will live.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 7:16PM
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If it comes back from the roots you will certainly have to be vigilant about keeping rabbits & such away from the leaves. Don't be surprised if you only get one weak cane from the roots this year.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 4:39PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

If it comes back, I'll be happy even if it only has one cane. It's weird, because there are several roses in that bed, but the rabbit(s) kept coming back to Nicole until she was stripped bare. It was very aggravating.

If it comes back, it will get regular sprinklings of cayenne pepper.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 6:47PM
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Deanna, I have serious rabbit issues and I have found the only sure way to save a rose is to make a cage of chicken wire and surround the rose. Cayenne and other sprays work but if I miss a day the rabbits beat me. Nicole is a beautiful rose and I hope you can save her. Good luck, Lesley

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 9:04PM
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kathy_george(z6b? Maryland)

I agree with Lesley. I buy chicken wire, snip it in half (so ~18 inches high, not 3 ft) and put a small circle/cylinder around minis and around larger bushes that are new or short and will put out lots of new green growth. (We had a short HT and rabbits ate the new canes, so it did not grow till I protected it - then it grew to 3-4 ft.) Over winter the cages are good, as they can hold oak leaves and other leaves as mulch and winter protection for the bushes; then throw away the leaves for spring. Tin snips will cut the wire. It's widely available - I think I bought it at Home Depot. At any rate, prune your bushes below the black, but even if it is even with the ground, your bush should grow back. Good luck! Kathy

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 5:57AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

Dumb question - what do you use to stabilize the chicken wire?


    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 7:15PM
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I was using the cheap metal tomato cages as support but you can bury the bottom of the chicken wire and it usually stays in place fairly well.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:18AM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

Burying the chicken wire as said above, or place a small stake (e.g. bamboo stake) on one side of the wire, and attach with a twisty tie. That will keep it upright & anchored. I do the same thing with rose pots I use to shield the base of the plant in winter.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 9:13AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I'm thrilled! I went out and checked on Nicole today, and saw a little sprig with leaves on it sprouting from underground. I can't believe it's alive. I got my cayenne pepper and sprinkled it in case any rabbits got any ideas.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:14PM
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tenor_peggy(10 FL, N. Fort Myers)

When I used chicken wire around my minis up north I secured the hoops with zip ties. Chicken wire does the trick but if you are going to use a barrior long term to keep the rabbits from pruning your roses see if you can find some green plastic coated wire at a garden center. Chicken wire rusts and looks shabby after a while. The green wire is coated so it doesn't have sharp edges and looks better in the garden. I never used it but my neighbor up north did and it looked pretty good.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:10AM
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