Can this rose bush be saved?

GardeningHeidi(5)May 15, 2014

I thought that irises would be a good partner for roses. Different sizes, different root depths, different bloom seasons. However, seeing how my rose looks now, I'm wondering if I was, to put it mildly, mistaken. There is a TINY bit of green at the bottom of a few of the branches. What do I do?!!! I have no clue where to start.

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The bush looks pretty bad, and I wonder if there is enough of it alive to save, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Others here may differ, but I would yank all the iris, prune out all the dead from the rose, cut the living canes down to about half. The soil looks dry and not healthy. Amend around the rose with mulch or some kind of rose planting mix. Water well. See if it responds and after a couple weeks, give a light organic feeding. Keep the soil mulched, but don't cultivate deeply as you might disturb rose roots. You might also try some earthworm castings which can be purchased at the nursery. Or, if you think it's too far gone, yank the iris and get a nice new bush. Do your homework for a new bush, you want disease resistant and grows to a size you like.

If that area tends to be weedy, cover the whole area with mulch which will hold down weeds, enrich the soil, help the bush and look nice.

This post was edited by socks12345 on Thu, May 15, 14 at 18:07

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 6:02PM
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Yes, it can be saved. I would do EXACTLY what socks said above. Dig up and move or give away all of the iris. Roses do not like having anything within, say, 18 inches of the base of the rose. The problem with iris is that if you leave even one, it will spread. Iris rhizomes grow on the surface of the dirt, multiply like rabbits, and eventually will kill anything (except such as a tree) they are near by forming an impenetrable mat of rhizomes. So, you rose is being smothered. Don't worry about the iris. Dig them up, cut off the extra rhizomes so that each bunch of leaves is only connected to one rhizome, cut the leaves down to about 4 inches, and leave them somewhere to dry for about a week. Then you can re-plant them somewhere else (make sure the top half of the rhizomes are above the dirt), and give away the extra ones - you will have zillions (iris are sort of like zucchini in that respect).

After you have removed the iris, put about 3 inches of mulch all around the rose (keep it at least 4 inches away from the base of the rose) out to about 2 feet away from the base. Water it well and regularly. You can put a granular product on top of the mulch which prevents weed seed from growing (ask your nursery and follow the directions). Then just keep the rose well watered, and WAIT, as socks says until you see new growth on the rose, when you can feed it lightly. It should respond and start to grow more. Make sure you give it adequate water.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:11PM
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Springwood_Gardens(6B Pittsburgh)

Polar Vortex damage. Mine were killed to the ground, whereas last year they had zero dieback. What a difference 20 degrees makes.

It would've looked like that with or without the irises. After you pitch the excess iris, any brown rose branches without new shoots should be discarded.

Time to start from "scratch". Use powdered rose food dissolved in a watering can a minimum of twice this growing season (now and then July). If winters continue as they have, we'll continue to see these problems.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:19PM
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cecily(7 VA)

You're in zone 5 -- that's what its going to look like after a severe winter. Was it own root or grafted?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:38AM
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charleney(8a PNW)

The iris need to be separated anyway. If it was my bed, I would leave maybe 3-4 iris fans, get rid of the rest and prune the rose down to where you find green wood. Use some alfalfa around. A couple or 3 cups, and water.water. water. Nothing ventured nothing gained. And if you don't do something, you will more than likely lose that rose. It will give you a great project. (As if you needed another one, huh?) Very good luck. If my iris get really thick like that, I chop them out with a hatchet. But , I love iris too, and would keep a couple of them.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:06PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I'm of the same opinion as Springwood. The damage isn't caused by the iris but by winter. However, you still need to get the iris away from the rose. I love iris too but they spread and will choke out the rose eventually. Move the iris to another spot and let the rose have the room it needs.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 12:20PM
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Thanks, everyone! As far as mulch goes, are you thinking something like a compost or untreated bark?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Oooh! Or more frugally, the leftover iris leaves.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:30AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

For mulch, buy a bag from HD or Wal-Mart (or such place) of pine-bark mulch--or other type if you want a different color. Just costs a couple dollars.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:36AM
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