Can I Mulch Around My Rose Bushes?

nanaclaire(5b)May 24, 2009

I have my rose bushes in flower beds among other flowers. Can I put mulch there? I am concerned about the root ball (the ball that has to stay above the ground) if it is covered with mulch, will the rose go wild?

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jerijen(Zone 10)

Pile on the mulch.
It's a GOOD thing.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 3:37PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

When you say "root ball" do you mean the graft? In zone 6, that should have been buried a couple of inches below soil level when planted in order to protect the grafted variety (assuming that it is grafted).

Yes, you can mulch. I just dumped a few bags in my garden today, will get to spreading it out tomorrow.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 4:13PM
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Thanks! I was referring to the Crown ...that needs to be at soil level (above ground) .... I wasn't referring to the right term.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 4:31PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

I really think, and have been recommending to people here, that it should be buried. That's what I've been doing with mine for many years now.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 5:16PM
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I could be wrong but when one of my rose bushes went wild years ago, someone from a nursery told me that the crown should not be buried. So far so good with my rose bushes, so I'm thinking they're right.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 6:24PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

They are wrong and sooner or later in a zone 6 garden your going to have your roses with the grafts above ground killed by a cold winter. Buried underground, those grafts are safe and you can pile on the mulch all you want.

I have about 200 roses, some own root but most grafted. All of them planted with the grafts about 6 inches deep so that they go own root.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:42PM
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It's a good think I asked about the mulch, then, b/c all these years I've been planting my rose bushes with the ball above the ground. Geez... now what? I might be able to add more soil to some, but others I'd have to dig up and replant.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:56PM
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I looked up why a rose bush goes wild and found this sie (below) that says it has to do with pruning. Thought it was worthwhile posting here for others to know. Thanks for letting me know about the crown needing to be under the ground. I'll be working on my rose bushes in the days to come.

Here is a link that might be useful: rosebushescare

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 8:02PM
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artemis_mo(z5b MO)

The article in the link states: "You need to prune conservatively, never pruning to the ground. A rose bush pruned back too far will regress back to its wild state. It will lose its color and shape."

I question this information. When a rose "goes wild" that is when the graft has died and the rootstock grows and flowers. Many, many roses in cold zones are pruned to the ground due to winter weather causing dead canes. In a cold zone, if the graft knob isn't planted below the soil line, there is a great possibility that the rose cane and graft knob will die. At that point you may find the rootstock growing.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:23PM
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Hey, what do I know... I thought it explained why my rose bush years ago went wild. Anyway, I will be digging up some of my bushes and replanting and the others there is room to add soil so I'll do that for those, and then mulch.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 10:31PM
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artemis_mo(z5b MO)

Well...hold the phone! It can depend on the rose. Because you are in zone 6, a rose that is hardy to zone 4 would not require the graft knob buried. OTOH if the rose is hardy only to zone should be buried.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:08PM
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Well, we are in lower Michigan .... we use to be zone 5 but then I noticed the maps changed to put us in zone 6. We DO get very cold winters but of late it hasn't been that bad except for this past winter with lots of snow. Now I don't know. Guess I should ask a nursery locally.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:12AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I'm in Zone 6 (Kansas), and I bury the graft "knob" 1-2 inches. THe problem here is that our Zone 6 winters (and very early springs) often undergo wide changes in temps. New growth starts, then a hard freeze comes along--the new growth is killed or damaged. Sometimes, as a result, we have to prune back nearly to the soil line.

As long as that graft "knob" is buried, it is protected--new growth can begin again when the temps warm up. If the graft is damaged, the "wild" portion (the roots from a different rose) can then take over.

If you can't replant some of the roses, you could always provide extra protection around the graft for winter--pile soil up about 6 inches or so.

As for mulching, excellent idea. However, it wouldn't hurt to keep it pulled back a couple inches from the base--a little "breathing" room, as it were.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 10:58AM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Ouch!!!! Nanaclaire, I totally agree with DianeJ and NewYorkRita... Not burying the graft is a big!!! mistake... Karl the expert rosarian also told me it is essential to bury the rose deep enough at least 6", especially! if it is grafted... How in the heck you got this misinfo at a nursery is very shocking to me...Grafts at the bud union absolutely must be protected (buried), no matter whether the zone is 5 or 6... Even a higher/warmer zone could benefit in case there is a crazy freeze... And also mulch is a very good thing...and is standard basic rose procedure.... I have own root roses mixed in with my graft varieties, but I still like to bury the stems deeper anyway, because I like the soil/mulch to be an insulator and they are not any worse for it... they have beautiful form and shape.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 11:01AM
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All roses should be planted with the graft below the soil. How deep that graft should go depends on how severe your winters are.
You could buy own-root though & avoid all that hassle!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 11:08AM
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Zyperiris(Seattle) in Seattle the rose people have always told me to keep the graft above the dirt? I always thought it was weather related as well. I have about 6 roses in large pots that I planted last year..with the graft above the dirt and we had a freeze here and they all came back just fine!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Ok, I went to the local nursery and was told it should be buried below the ground b/c of our winters. Maybe it wasn't a nursery who told me. It was years ago. Also, was told they go wild when you don't bury them below ground.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:43PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

nanaclaire, it isn't really "going wild." A grafted plant is two different roses physically joined at the graft. If the top part freezes out to the graft, the rootstock makes shoots from underground and carries on. This is usually a dark red climbing rose, 'Dr. Huey.'

You absolutely can (and should) add more soil to cover the graft. The rose won't mind at all. Growers in zone 6 used to mound soil over the graft temporarily for the winter, but the accepted practice nowadays is to bury the graft.

Often people at nurseries don't know much about roses. You can trust what you read here (not every single post, but the majority view).

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 3:31PM
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I know I'm coming a little late to the discussion, but everyone is right that the graft knob should be buried. I just wanted to add one thing about why someone might have told you to leave it above ground. In certain climates, like the Pacific Northwest, gardeners sometimes think you should leave it above ground because excessive rain can make the soil get waterlogged. The graft is more prone to root-rot than the rest of the root system. In any case, as long as you're in a reasonably dry climate, you shouldn't need to worry about burying it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 4:07PM
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