What to do about odd growth habit on Blue Girl

flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)May 29, 2012

I continue to have this problem with her. Last year I posted that Blue Girl looked like she sported climbing canes behind where I originally planted her as a graft. She's doing it again this year.

The pictures below show the growth habit. There are 2 obvious "sections" to her. The shrub in front is the original grafted rose and it's about 3 1/2 feet tall today. It produces one good first flush and then goes kaput. In her second year, large, straight, bamboo-like canes began skyrocketing upward about 6 inches behind the graft. Same flowers, & still Blue Girl, but it just keeps getting taller and taller. The canes are not pliable at all. When I deadhead, she just reaches even further skyward. The blooms are at about the 7 foot mark right now, early in the season. You can't see them or enjoy their scent up that high.

I'm afraid to whack the back section because the canes are completely smooth & there are no bud eyes. (I feel like I'd just be chopping her down with no hope for new growth.) I did prune this back section down from 10 feet to about 4 feet this spring. What the holy heck is going on?

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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

Pictures of the canes & bud eyes might help. The first 2 pics below are of bud eyes on the short, original section of plant after deadheading. These usually 'burn up' and never produce anything:

These next 2 pictures show the canes on the tall section:

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:39AM
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I have two blue girls, and they look like clones to yours. They were stunning their first year. Now they are crazy growthy, with very few blooms on top of large sticks. Nice first flush blooms, then a bunch of nothing. I started out loving them, now they feel like duds. I have pruned the living heck out of them. No worries - they grow right back!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:01PM
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It would be interesting to see if it might be possible to determine if you obtained your stock from the same producer. There is a Climbing Blue Girl and this one definitely would qualify as far as I'm concerned. I grew Blue Girl for nearly 18 years in the old garden, in full, unobstructed sun and it never exceeded five feet in height. I don't think the one in the photo could really be called 'stretching for light'. It appears to have actually sported to the climbing form. If the two of you bought them from say Week's or J&P stock, it's entirely possible it mutated in the field and was propagated before it was discovered as a mutation, which has frequently happened, and you both bought the results. Or not. Kim

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:47PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

Well, that's the odd thing; you can tell there seem to be 2 entirely different plants. The climbing part at the back has own-root canes that are pretty far from the original grafted rose. I think the own-root canes sported. The original rose, in non-climbing form, is tough to coax new stems on. (Bad English there, but you get my drift.)

I bought her at KMart....of all places.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Must be the nuclear waste disposal site you garden over then! LOL! Kim

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Interesting. Then I think I have the same sport. I just recently pruned down. Will have to see how tall she actually gets without me pruning. Think she's had canes over 6'

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:14PM
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If you install a trellis behind her, and train the new tall canes as horizontally as you can, you will get blooms all along the long canes, instead of just at the top.

I agree that BG seems to have sported to a climber - not an unusual thing.
So, I would treat it as a climber and be happy.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:27PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

It's funny because it's just this one rose doing it. Everything on either side of her is "normal". So, I must have done some really specifically localized nuclear dumping. :)

I'd love, love, love to be able to trellis her, but the canes would snap in two. I took this pic after one day with 35-mph winds and another day with winds in the 20's. I've never seen a rose this tall & lanky stand up to wind that fierce. The canes are like garden stakes.

I hadn't fed her in over 2 years, so maybe I'll just do a fun little experiment & give her some fertilizer and see what kind of freak show develops.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:43PM
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seil zone 6b MI

It certainly looks perfectly healthy and you have a great flush of blooms up there at the top! Are the canes at all flexible when they first start to grow out? Can you maybe spread them then? Otherwise I'd suggest pruning it back down and seeing what happens.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 4:22PM
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If this plant was growing in a mild climate where snow and winter protection weren't issues, I would suggest obtaining a Tumex Trellis Kit (or something similar), or using masonary screws to attach it to the bricks so it could be "encouraged" to grow as much off the vertical as possible. As Seil said, that would then encourage it to break into laterals along the canes instead of flowering mainly at the tops of the tall canes. You would be training it as a climber, which many taller HTs can be encouraged to perform as, if there is enough room, winter protection doesn't prohibit it and you have the time and desire.

A friend used to do this with all of his taller growing HTs here in the Land of Endless Summer and the effects were truly stunning! Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Trellis Kit

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 4:47PM
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I think that even canes which eventually become like iron, and non-bendable, would be bendable when they are new - what they usually do is shoot straight up, and then "harden off" and get tough/strong. If you catch them when they have gotten tall, but are still soft, you should be able to bend them a bit horizontally - of course you have to be very careful not to damage them, as they are very fragile at that point. I just now gently moved some baby canes that were growing very fast - straight towards the house (their rose is basically espaliered against our house) - their plan was to grow UNDER the shingles. They were really soft. I spent 5 minutes - holding my breath and gently coaxing them around other canes, so that they would be pointed more away from the house, and out to where the light is.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 5:33PM
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