How do you encourage roses to repeat bloom?

snrose(7A LI NY)June 9, 2011

Hello! This year I'm determined to make my roses rebloom like they are supposed to. Can anyone give me some advice?

I'm fairly new to roses and most of my rose bushes are about two to three years old. I figured that this is the year when they start "leaping" so, in the spring, I loaded them up with banana peels, composted manure, rosetone, and mulch.

Now that the first flush is almost over, what should I do? Add more fertilizer? Should I deadhead or should I do a hard prune?

These are a few of the roses that I need help with:

Gertrude Jekyll

Mary Rose

Reine des Violette

Honorine de Brabant

In particular, does anyone know how to make Gertrude Jekyll rebloom? That's probably the one I am most anxious about. It's the oldest of them all and has never rebloomed for me whatsoever.

Thanks so much!


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I am afraid that Gertrude Jekyll is a theoretically re-blooming Austin that is infamous for NOT re-blooming! HMF says it has some repeat late in the season - this means that it might bloom a bit for you in the Fall, if you are lucky.

In general, getting roses (presuming they have the DNA to re-bloom) involves making sure they have 4 things:

1) LOTS of direct sunlight
2) Adequate water
3) Adequate food
4) Deadheading - I would not hard prune them, that would just make them spend energy putting out more canes and leaves, without which they cannot survive. Dead-heading prevents them from putting energy into making hips & seeds.

Reines des Violette is a hybrid perpetual, and they do not re-bloom as much as the old teas & chinas & modern roses, but they do re-bloom.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:48PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Extra fertilizer won't do it. The problem with marginal repeaters like Gertrude Jekyll is that, after the spring flush, they want to make vegetative growth, long canes that don't bloom.

Some people have had success with GJ by pruning in spring to 3-4' and cutting back again after the flush (take about half the new growth when deadheading). Also I kept GJ as a climber for a while, and old canes trained at 45 degrees or more would produce some repeat bloom at midsummer, but after that, just more greenery.

Mary Rose should repeat with normal shrub treatment. I haven't grown RdV, but people might want you to say whether you have the thornless mauve one (true variety) or the deep pink thorny one that's often sold under the name.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:55PM
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I add a second round of fertilizer when the buds of the first flush is about to open. The theory is; about this time roses are looking for more nutrients, and bloom is major energy consuming for the plant.

Trick with Gertrude Jekyll is to remember she blooms best on second year wood and on side shoots from these, most of the second flush seems to be produced on these too.

If you prune/clean up after first flush, and cut of tips of new strong growth (to force side shoots) it can give more buds. She is able to form flowerbuds on end of new canes, and clever pruning will give more "ends". It's well worth a try.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 5:16PM
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For all practical purposes, Reine des Violettes and Honorine du Brabant have two cycles of bloom ... a good spring flush and a VERY limited rebloom in the fall. It's nothing that you're either doing or not doing, it's in the genetics of these roses. I don't grow Gertrude Jekyll, and my Mary Rose is a baby, so I can't speak to them with as much certainty.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 5:40PM
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If the performance there is anything like it is here north of Los Angeles, you should expect Mary Rose to flower pretty much continuously. I normally have to cut off many fresh flowers to prune the thing in spring. Gertrude is like Graham Thomas is infamous for being. It does whatever it wants to do, no matter what you do to it. Reine des Violettes bloomed off and on all summer here, but the flowers lasted half an hour before crisping. It went away a long time ago. Honorine put out the spring flush then tons of vegatative growth here. She also went bye-bye years ago. Kim

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 6:07PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Re-bloom is essentially a genetic factor and beyond keeping your roses healthy, there isn't much you an do about it. Even dead-heading has limited effect on frequency. If you want good repeat, you will have to choose roses for their innate potential. Also, even the best repeaters shut down to some degree in high heat.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:48PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I'm afraid three of your roses are not very good rebloomers, especially with your shorter summers. Mary Rose should do better. I would deadhead after the spring flush and fertilize at that time. Alfalfa meal works really well for me to generate new growth that will make flowers. Honorine de Brabant was a very poor rebloomer for me, even with my very long summer season.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 12:43AM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

I usually get two re-bloom cycles on my Gertrude Jekyll. I wonder if that is because our winters are so cold that I have to prune her back a good deal in the spring?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:15AM
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I've tried the approach of cutting back after the spring flush and it didn't work very well. Mine seem to go semi-dormant in the hot summers so all I had to show for it was some mangled bushes.

As a rule, I'm too lazy to deadhead, but unless the rose sets hips I'm not sure what the point would be? Very few of my repeat hybrids set hips. An exception is Heritage which I will dead-head but I'm still not sure it makes a difference.

I haven't grown Mary Rose for a long time (I liked it but I'm just not a big fan of pinks) . If I remember correctly it is a good repeater without a lot of fuss.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:19AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

There are certain roses where deadheading has a big effect on the amount of repeat bloom. Carefree Sunshine and Katerina Ziemat are two in my experience. Repeaters that set a whole lot of hips (or leave messy brown petal masses) can be quickly deadheaded with a hedge clipper.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:35AM
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snrose(7A LI NY)

Wow, so many responses!

I'll do exactly what you suggested about deadheading and pruning half the new growth on the Gertrude Jekyll to make more flowering ends.

The RdV (yes, it's thornless) and Honorine have had some rebloom in previous years even when I was kind of lax about re-fertilizing them. Now I know not to take it personally if they act the same way this year. So that's something positive!

My Mary Rose is the more recent purchase so I'm glad I got a little better about choosing roses! In the future, if I ever find space to add more roses, I'll probably stick with the "continual bloomers" since those are more to my taste. Either that or I have to start buying something other than roses for once! :)

Thank you all for the great advice! It's amazing how much helpful info everyone here is willing to share. I think I have a lot of work to do this weekend!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 12:25PM
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Deadhead religiously.
Pinch old blooms off high up. They did a study of different types of deadheading at a California rose garden and found more repeat when the blooms were just pinched off. Doesn't seem right but that is what they reported.
Alfalfa tea really does help.
And as said above, some roses love to repeat and others don't. Some start growing new buds during a current flush and the stingy ones do nothing during current flushes and seem to rest a bit after a flush. I strongly prefer the blooming maniacs.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:18PM
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predfern(z5 Chicago)

Martine Guillot is hardy, vigorous and has great repeat. Your best bet for a repeating OGR is Rose de Rescht. My Galloping Gertie is in her second year and has lots of blooms right now. I had to prune due to winter dieback. My thornless RDV has fair repeat. I just got Mary Rose. Her sport Winchester Cathedral didn't make it through the winter.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 12:12AM
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Hi, I have a couple questions about Gertrude Jekyll:
I bought a GJ today (z6) and now I'm trying to figure out where the best spot for her is. I originally wanted to grow her over an arbor that is also the entrance to my yard. BUT I see she is very thorny and don't want her scratching my family. I think she may be good growing a few feet before the arbor- grown to climb up my fence. Any suggestions on the best way to achieve this? Should I fan her out and just have a few canes growing tall or do I need to grow her up something else?
Also, next spring... I should prune it back by cutting it back half? Tag said 6 inches...nt enough or is it dependant upon its size?
Thanks in advance

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:59PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I don't grow her myself, so I don't know how flexible she is, but I think GJ would be lovely spread out on a fence if that's possible. With most climbers the more you can spread them sideways the more bloom you will get. So you don't need to make it go up if you don't wish to.

As for spring pruning is really depends on where you live and you didn't post even a zone. We need to know that before we can give more info in how to care for it. However, cutting it back to 6 inches is ridiculous if it's good healthy cane. Even cutting it back by half may be unnecessary. Please tells us where you are so we can help you.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 3:46PM
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I have two gerties that bloom their heads off. The secret to my success....earthworm castings. I pour about 4 cups around each rose and water and that's it. Earthworm castings aren't always cheap so I save them for my containers and a few special needs roses.

Grace e

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:46AM
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I'm in zone 6a

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Thanks :) Do you remove her spent blooms? She is still in the container, but she has over a dozen roses in bloom and some buds that will beblooming soon. Should I remove her spent blooms?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 5:24PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Always remove spent blooms. If nothing else, it makes the rose look considerably better.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 6:37PM
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With a few, and I do mean A FEW, exceptions the Bourbons, Hybrid Perpetuals and Portlands do not rebloom as good as the modern rose classes. They just don't. Same thing applies to some of the English Roses, especially the older varieties.

Your best bet with Galloping Gertie is to replace her with either COMTE DE CHAMBORD (Portland, 1858) or CAPITAINE DYEL DE GRAVILLE (Bourbon, 1905). Both of these roses are shorter and have more reliable remontancy.

Repeat bloom for REINE DES VIOLETTES should improve with age. My grafted plant always has at least one or two flowers on the plant after the spring flush. If this isn't enough consider replacing it with INDIGO (Portland, 1845). Although the flowers aren't as perfectly formed you do get more of them and the color is similar enough. Just watch out for suckering as the short/spreading shrub behaves more like a repeat-blooming Gallica than a Portland-Damask. Another option is Rose de Rescht.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 6:57PM
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You don't want to water too much, either. The roots need air as well as water. How often you need to water is depends on your climate and soil.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 8:24PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)


Fanning canes of GJ on a fence is a good idea. Do that with the long canes that she produces in late summer and they will bloom the following year, maybe with some repeat bloom too.

GJ's thorns are among the most horrible in rosedom, literally sharp as needles. Always armor up!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 1:06PM
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