Problem with my Don Juan

forensicmomApril 11, 2009

All of my roses have lots of new growth and are looking great (all 17), however my healthiest and most robust from last year (Don Juan) is barely and I mean barely showing any signs of new growth. There are NO new leaves and just a few signs of buds.

I even checked my pictures from last year and this same time (4-9-08) Don Juan was covered in leaves.

I did add a dose of alfalfa tea about 2 weeks ago when I fertilized all of my roses and clematis but nothing has changed.

Can anyone tell me what might be wrong with it? Or does it just need more time for some reason?

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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

It has been a cold spring, so some roses are responding slowly. Also (if you are in the East), it was a fairly cold winter, and DJ is not very winter-hardy. I'm sure it will grow out and bloom, but if you find that some canes are not supporting good growth and bloom, prune them back. Center pith should be white for last year's canes and tan for older cane sections.

Fertilizer has nothing to do with growing out after winter. The plant uses stored energy until leaves have expanded and turned green.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 11:39AM
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I live in NY in zone 6 and was advised against Don Juan by several rosarians, although I really wanted one. They all said that this rose is not winter hardy in our area. Sorry to say, but the winter cold possibly killed your rose, although it is still early to say. Give it some more time.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 1:19PM
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The tag and info says Zones 5-9. Why wouldn't it be hardy in Zone 7? Also, we had another pretty mild winter, so I can't imagine that it didn't survive b/c of weather. Also, it was planted 3 years ago so it's not like it's brand new.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 4:32PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

A better question is why it would be recommended for zone 5. It can be grown there, but probably not as a climber.

You've observed signs of life. I was just suggesting you be alert to signs of cane damage. I have seen one here heavily damaged after a zone 7 winter.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 4:57PM
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gardenmanya(6B SEPA)

I used to grow Don Juan in zone 5a in Colorado. It is actually my husbands favorite rose, and it follows us from house to house and from state to state.He refuses to dig the holes unless I promise to plant DJ:) In Colorado they grew up to 6-8 feet, in semi protected place next to the house wall.I had only moderate winter die back. I would check for another problems, may be root damage, too much moisture during the winter etc.. My third Don Juan from Pickering is soaking in the bucket right now. Maria

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 9:26PM
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forensicmom - I'm having the EXACT same problem that you describe with my DJ. No new leaves - not a single one and just a few buds. All of my other roses are fully leafed out and covered with buds. DJ is the only rose that I lost over the winter. I just assumed that the winter killed my DJ. I planted it last Spring and it did fine. I can't imagine what killed it though. We had a few days of snow here this year, but I wouldn't consider it a brutally cold winter. If DJ doesn't show some signs of life soon, I plan to dig it up and replace it with some other rose that is a little more hardy.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 9:50PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

forensicmom, I'm on my 3rd Don Juan in 6 years. Granted the first two were body bags from Home Depot and likely virused, but they both died. One I believe from powdery mildew and didn't come back after winter and the other just faded away. It would still bloom, but was sparse and the wood looked sickly.

I now have a virus free own root from Vintage which I will plant this year. I love this rose, but it is not hardy. I also have pink Don Juan and it appears to have the same yucky cane appearance as the red one. But the blooms and scent are to die for.

Do you spray? I find DJ needs to be sprayed to stay healty. If you allow it to go into dormancy with any kind of fungus, it will be damaged. That's just the way DJ is. But for me it's worth the extra effort.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Several years ago we planted a Don Juan.It went thru 2 seasons,then was winter killed.....We decided to try Dublin Bay which is a beautiful red climber and found it to be more vigorous and winter hardy here in kansas.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 10:38PM
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Here on the west coast, Zone 8A, North of Seattle..I planted a Don Juan, and a Dublin bay..the DJ was way more vigorous than DB. The key is maybe that DB is a better choice in her climate

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 6:29PM
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Xtal(z8b Temple. TX)

I'm so sorry to see that you guys are having problems with you DJ. Mine was planted one year ago and is covered with blooms. It saddens me that he hasn't done well for you. Might I suggest that if you consider digging him up - try propagating several cuttings. If nothing else, you can trade them.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 8:41AM
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Patricia43(z8 AL)

Mine succumbed after 9 years.

My friend had one that she had had for about 15-20 years and it was huge. The ground froze while they were out of town and it heaved it out of the ground and, of course, it was frozen.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 2:39PM
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I had a similar problem with my first Don Juan. It seldom bloomed and never more than three blooms at a time. After alfalfa and all other means at my disposal, I finally came to the conclusion that I had a not too health plant, so I steeled myself and threw it out. I replaced it with another DJ, same spot and as I speak it has at least 20 buds - different plant, different results.
That just might be the problem. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 3:59PM
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If your Don Juan is showing some form of life, in other words, swelling bud eyes where the leaves grow, he is not dead. Dead canes will be brown, like dry sticks, or blackened, and those should be removed.

Most areas had a colder than normal winter, and since Don Juan is a heat lover, he is most likely just slow to come out of dormancy. I wouldn't yank him out just yet if it were me.

I have also grown Don Juan down here without spray, but I fuss a lot with the soil and irrigate to lessen any stress. I also can accept a small amount of blackspot and am willing to pick leaves off. If he's in full sun down here it seems to work. The chili thrips are what is killing Don Juan off down here.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Does anyone have experience with growing Don Juan in partial shade? I am looking for a red climber (at least 5 ft.) to train on a north facing picket fence for a spot that gets about 4 hours of sun. Any suggestions? I was thinking about Don Juan but need advice.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 5:11PM
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Go to and look for the link to their rose care videos (which are posted on Youtube). There is one about growing roses in shade. I watched it the other day!

Anyway, basically what is stated in the little video was if the rose gets 4 hours of morning sunlight, it is probably enough.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 6:40PM
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