John Davis Rose

Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)May 12, 2014

Hi everyone. I purchased two own root John Davis roses for my trellis to replace a blaze improved I was growing last year.

Wondering what to expect from this rose on growth rate, blooming for this year, especially for own root?

I've read a lot of conflicting information on how quickly these grow compared to grafted. Some people say they grow really slow, but I also read from other forums on here that people believe they grow quicker.

My blaze grew 5 feet in the first year but the entire thing died back to the graft due to my mistake/mother nature.

Just curious how tall I should expect these to get this year?
If they might bloom again? They are each about 5-6 inches tall, already have 2-3 blooms on each rose. Beautiful blooms.

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Mine spent its first ten or so years as a shrub. A very nice shrub, but only about 4 ft tall. Then it put up a couple of climbing canes, so I moved it to an arbor. It looks like it will probably be ten more years before it starts growing again. It is own root, but I don't remember where it came from.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 7:44AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

gallica - Thanks for the reply.

Some questions about your post. How are you telling the difference between shrub and climbing canes? I have read that they are easy to train up a trellis so I am a bit confused on the different canes? Do you remember how quickly yours established and started growing new shrub canes)? I think I'll be able to train it fairly easily up my arbor, from what I've read, I just don't know what to expect on the growth rate.

Do you have any pictures of yours?

Thanks for your reply! :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:09AM
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This rose takes time to make something of itself -- mine is six years old now and has barely exceeded five feet tall but is at least 7 feet wide, as a freestanding shrub. The first three years it flowered modestly, but in the last couple years it has been literally covered in bloom during the first flush.

I know of few other roses that require as much patience as this one, but for reliability in a cold zone (like yours) I think it will be worth the investment of time and effort.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:19AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

trospero - thanks so much for the reply. I appreciate your feedback and insight.

Patience is a huge weakness for me in gardening.That's what I was looking for. Something that would not have cane die back after our harsh winters.

Would you say even a foot of growth this year is out of the question? I'd love to see a picture of yours if you have one. The blooms are so gorgeous. Of course mine came w/ two blooms on them so they are teasing me.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:34AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

This may be the only photo I have of it. Its shrub days predate our digital camera.

It's the tall, light pink thing in the middle. The monster red thing is Quadra, the solid pink thing is Frontenac, and the dark pink thing on the left is Captain Samuel Holland. (the white thing visible between the arbor is a peony, Festiva Maxima)

The shrub canes were short and fairly stiff. The climbing Explorers are stiff and difficult to train in general, but are usually long enough to do something. These were only about 4 ft long. It did that for years, until it put up a couple of 7-8 ft long canes that needed support. We could have pruned them down, I suppose, and kept it as a shrub, but needed a hardy rose for the arbor. The canes blooming near the top of the arbor are the same canes that shot up before we moved it. One of these years, it will grow another one. It will also start repeating again.

Captain Samuel Holland and John Cabot also arrived here as own-root plants. They required patience, but it was much closer to normal climber patience. John Davis is in a category almost by itself. Don't expect much at all from it this year.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Thanks for the reply & the picture. Your garden is beautiful.

*sigh* I guess I will just plan on not seeing much from them for a few years. :/

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:54AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

FWIW, I bought a grafted John Davis, on a whim, whilst visiting a nursery, 6 years ago. It was the time I didn't know anything about roses, or gardening. So, for a couple of years, I treated it like a hybrid tea and cut it down at fall! When I became slightly more educated, I realized I'd an extremely hardy rose, I moved it close to a fence and let it grow by attaching it's unruly branches to the fence. Later I realized I was pegging them :-)

Anyway, since then the rose has flourished, and it covers a 5x5 fence. It has a big flush in June and the whole fence turns pink. The buds are delightful, tender pink however, the flower is sort of messy, and has no fragrance to my nose. The repeat has been non-existant till now. (unless you call 2 flowers a repeat).

If I knew what I know now, I would've probably bought another rose. Something with a better repeat and ideally fragrant. I got a Quadra, last year, thanks to Mad Gallica (Grafted) and I've been very pleased with it. For a one year old rose, it was more or less in blooms.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

True Blue -

Thank you for your post. I understand what you mean about buying roses before knowing much about them! I have done what feels like so much research & there is still so much to learn! I have made so many mistakes but I guess that's what gardening is all about, right? :)

Glad to hear it's doing well for you! I sure hope I have some luck with these babies. At least I know they are winter hardy & I won't have dieback here in zone 5. I never realized how cold it got here until I started keeping flowers alive through the cold!

I don't mind no fragrance at this time, more excited about the pink blooms! How long do your blooms last? I read up to 6 weeks but wasn't sure if that was a bit exaggerated since it's on the sites where they want you to buy them!!

I'd love to see pictures of yours on your fence if you have any. :)


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:47AM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Most welcome. That's part of the learning process :-)
That's one thing you can bank on, hardiness. The flowering time is three weeks for me.

I don't have a photograph of the whole bush in full bloom. But if it helps below is a link, where you can browse many photos of John Davis.


Here is a link that might be useful: John Davis photos on helpmefind...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

true blue,

thanks for the reply. I am thankful it'll at least be very hardy for me.

Thanks for the link! :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 4:08PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

I hope no one minds if I bump my board. I have a few follow up questions for those of you who grow John Davis & hoping someone can help me out! :o)

I ended up repotting these babies into gallon pots once I found out planting them directly into the garden wasn't the best idea. I have been fertilizing them and they are actually growing quite well!

So my questions are:
Can I overwinter these in 1 gallon pots? I believe JD is hardy to zone 2, and I am in zone 5. I have never overwintered anything in pots or in the unheated garage so I am hesitant on doing either!

When should I stop fertilizing them? We normally don't go into freezing temperatures until October/November.

How many years should I grow these in pots before planting them into the ground?

Thank you in advance for any advice. :o)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:28PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Yes, you can overwinter them in the pots if you wish. You can either keep them in the garage or you can sink the pots into the ground for the winter. If you garage them make sure you give them some water every month. Outside sunk in the ground they won't need that because they'll get rain/snow fall.

Generally people stop fertilizing at the end of August but that's up to you. I usually fertilizer well into September here. The feeling is that fertilizer stimulates new growth and that growth won't have the time needed to harden off before freeze. I found that my roses just kept growing anyway so I fed them. Yes, I lose most all of that new growth over the winter but I figure if it's going to grow anyway it might as well have some food to do it on instead of using up what ever stores it has. And as far as I can tell no matter what I do I'm going to lose some growth to winter. It's a given.

How long you want to keep them in the pots depends a lot on how fast or well they grow. Once they're a big enough size, with a good root ball, that you feel you can safely transplant them into the ground and they won't get lost or stepped because you can't see them, I'd say go for it!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:40PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

They won't grow late in the season, pretty much whatever you do. It's part of being a hardy rose. It also won't die back during the winter.

If they are growing well in the pots, I'd be very tempted to plant them in the ground late September, early October. Plant them, then WALK AWAY. Do NOT try to winter protect them. They don't need it, and won't appreciate the coddling.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:24PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Mad_gallica's advice is good. More things can go wrong when you overwinter small pots. In the garden, you might want to cage it to protect from rabbits while young.

My JD (a band from Heirloom) grew pretty well and had a few 6-7' canes after a few years. This rose is very beautiful when in bloom, with elegant foliage and red stems with few thorns.

I didn't keep it because I don't need the extra hardiness and it didn't repeat significantly. It also mildewed, but that may have been a fluke.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:32AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Thanks Seil. I was thinking the extra food would help them develop their roots a little better as well which is one of my biggest concerns with these little guys. I think I will feed at least into August. I don't mind if I lose a little growth on top, I just want them to make it through the winter.

When I transplanted them from the tiny pots to the 1 gallon pots they still had very small root systems. I'm leaning towards planting the pot into the ground. You don't think they'd survive above ground in their pots as they are?

Thanks for the feedback mad_gallica & michaelg. I guess I will see what they are looking like in October and that will help me decide. I am hesitant to plant these little guys directly into the ground yet. They are much smaller than any bands I have gotten from heirloom. Much lower quality.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:38AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

First, forget what you think you know about roses are hardiness issues. If somebody gave you a lilac, or a forsythia start, how worried would you be about winterkill?

The problem is going to be drying out. Small pots can dry out quite quickly. If that happens, the rose is toast. At this point, I don't like overwintering things in pots smaller than 2 gallons simply because they take too much attention. In the ground, just make sure they are well watered when winter hits, and ignore them.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

I have never grown a lilac or forsynthia myself. We do have lilacs on our property but they're about 12 feet tall and about that wide. I apologize if you feel that I'm unwarranted in worrying, but to each their own I guess. I understand that John Davis roses are extremely hardy, as I have read they are hardy to zone 2. But these are very small bands with very little root system. This is why I am concerned about them surviving the winter.

When I said they were growing quite well, I probably should have given you more information. When I got these they were tiny, only had a few leaves, and a bloom on each. Now that I've seen some other bands, I realized that these were not very developed plants. I planted them directly into the ground. My dog trampled one of them and snapped the main cane clean off at the soil line, and a squirrel or some other critter dug both of them up. They went through a lot this summer and I realized that planting things directly into the ground at this size does not work well for me. After Max trampled one I put up the little mesh fence around them but something climbed in any way to dig them up. So when I said they were growing well, what I probably should have said is they look better now than they did when they arrived. They've put out new leaves and the one that was crushed by my dog has put out 3 tiny baby canes with lots of healthy leaves. For me, this was a success because I wasn't sure they'd grow at all since I heard not to expect ANY growth from them this year.

I put them back in the band pots and fertilized them once a week and they've done wonderfully. Last weekend I transplanted them into big gallon pots and gave them some topsoil and mulch. I've been keeping them watered, and I the mulch has kept them from drying out. The patio they are on is shaded during the hotter parts of the day so I think that has helped them as well. They seem to be doing well in there so I'm not too worried about the extra attention it takes to grow them in pots. I understand if that's not everyone's cup of tea but I do not mind that at all.

I'm more concerned w/ what will give me the best odds of overwintering them. I would rather spend more time keeping them alive in pots if that's going to be their best odds of surviving. I'd rather get these babies more developed before I plant them directly into the ground. Just trying to learn from my previous mistakes. I think I will try burying them in the pots as Seil suggested and hope that they make it through!

Thank you all for your feedback! I appreciate the help.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:48PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Seems to me if you are going to sink the pots you might as well transplant them so the roots can start to spread.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:14PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

I thought roses didn't grow when they were dormant?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:47PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Top growth goes dormant at a different time from root growth.

The truth is, how I dealt with tiny roses that were too small for the big bad world was, I kept them under lights in the basement for the winter. Some hated it, like most once bloomers, but most did well enough.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Interesting. Well these roots are only a few inches long, so I don't think they're going to spread past the size of the pot before next spring.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:22PM
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johnnycabot(Z4b MI.)

Never had great luck with own-root bands in my zone. Have grafted JD and JC, to trellises. They have both come back well from severe winter damage and prune to 18". JD does present light flush of dusty mildew early spring , don't ignore it, which is easily remedied with Daconil. They are my showiest presentations and worth any inconvenience.
Good luck with whatever method you take to care for your Babes -please keep us posted as to results .My only option is to place the own-root into the ground in the fall. I lost 3, grew 3. Poor odds. Interestingly survivors were minis.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:29PM
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