Please help with my sickly rose bush. :(

b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)June 19, 2011

Hi rose gardeners,

When I first moved into this house in 2006, the rose bush outside the corner kitchen looked like this:

Then 2 years later, it looked like this:

Now it looks like this. :(

Have I killed it? :(

Can you diagnose what's wrong with it?

Is there a way to save it?

Thanks!

Betty

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york_rose

How long ago was the rose planted there?

How long ago was that rock mulch put down there?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:02PM
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york_rose

What is the pH of your soil there?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:03PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

No you haven't killed it. It is still alive and there are things you can do.

My guess is that it is being over-watered and the nutrients are draining away. The leaves are chloritic, which usually means an iron deficiency, but probably other nutrients as well. If you want to leave it where it is, you need to be very, very careful about the hoses/faucet. It should have about a gallon of water every ten days, maybe once a week in severe heat and drought. No more! I would also cut back some of the weed barrier to give the soil more air. And rather than fertilizers and iron, I just use fish emulsion--add it to your water as per instructions on the bottle, usually 1/4 per gallon. You might thin it a bit as well.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:29PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

York rose, thanks for your quick response!

The house was built in 1996, and I think the rose bush was planted at that time.
The rock mulch was there when I moved in, and I found another early shot--2007, I think-- that shows the rocks, and the robust health of the bush. :)

I don't know what the pH is of my soil... I've never tested pH. Is there an easy instruction video you know about, that explains how to do it?

Catsrose, Thanks for your reply! That's such a relief!
Where do you buy fish emulsion? at the nursery?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:08PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Rocks reflect a lot of heat, not good for plants.
Yes, some of that weed barrier needs removed to give the rose roots some air.
How much you water depends on your soil type, climate, etc. Use your best judgement.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:44PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

I had the same problem with 5 roses planted in a bed next to a concrete foundation with rock mulch. I went to Menard's and picked up a soil testing kit for $13. It was very easy, and indicated I had very alkaline soil.

Don't know what the cause was; could have been something in the water right after I planted them, could have been lime washing off the limestone...dunno. But it was a relief to see them rebound after getting a proper diagnosis & cure.

Yours look very much like mine did.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 10:01PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Thanks, Jim! That makes sense... the rose bush didn't start looking bad until I pruned it way back. Maybe without all the extra foliage, the rocks added too much heat. I will cut back the weed barrier today. :)

Thank you, flaura! That's encouraging! Maybe when I pruned the branches back, the alkaline-whatever was just too concentrated for the branches that were left. I will go to Paulino's Nursery today and pick up a soil testing kit.

Thanks again!
Betty

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 9:39AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

The plant is suffering from iron deficiency, and I'm certain of that.

The usual cause is high (alkaline) pH. Waterlogging can also cause iron deficiency. pH should be between 5.5 and 7 (7 is neutral), and 6-6.5 is ideal. I would recommend the Rapi-test pH meter over a testing kit.

You can lower the pH gradually by adding micronized sulfur. Depending on the pH and amount of clay in the soil, this might be around 1/2 cup per sq. yard. There are many charts on the web. Allow around a year for the sulfur to take effect.

A fertilizer containing ammonium sulfate will tend gradually to lower pH. But with a single plant, I'd recommend fertilizing regularly with Miracid in addition to using sulfur. It doesn't affect pH much, but it supplies available (chelated) iron.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:06AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

I'm in Alicia's neck of the woods, so I'll add that our ph is somewhere between 7 and 7.9. We normally get 13 inches of precip per year, but got 4.5 inches over a few day period a few weeks back.
Alicia, the rain has washed all the nutrients out of the soil, (note the splash block next to the rose) the rose has chlorosis (sorry if that's not spelled correctly) and needs fertilizing. Paulino's carries Mile Hi Rose Food and I love the stuff! Do not overfertlize it, though. Plan on giving it some fertilizer now and again in a few weeks. Don't fertilize after August 1st.
I have a pink Grootendorst rose that yellows like that every year if I don't fertilize.

Barb

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 9:20PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Thank you,Barb! Thank you, rose experts!

I have followed your recommendations, and I think it's working already!

Is it my imagination, or do the leaves look a little better already?

One question, though...On the first photo, in the top left part, can you see some leaves with brown edges? Do you know what that means? Should I do something?

Thanks!
Betty

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:12PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

I might be imaging things! But is it looking better already?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 9:41PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

You can tell that the iron deficiency is subsiding when the new leaves open an even green, with the interveinal parts nearly the same color as the veins. Iron-deficient plants are not able to make enough chlorophyll to color the new leaves normally.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 9:34AM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Thank you, Michael!

What do the red leaves mean?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 10:14AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

As you know, new growth on many roses is normally russet-colored. The test is whether those particular leaves turn normal green in a week or two.

I suspect that is an unnatural red related to the iron deficiency, and those leaves will turn pale between the veins, but I can't say for sure from here. I also suspect you need to do more than supply a normal fertilizer--see my original post.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:20AM
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susan4952(5)

My entire lot is rock mulch. I surround each rose bush with wood chip mulch ( pine );the diameter equals the ht. of the plant. ...except for the huge New Dawn, Pom POm Flower Circus, etc. Those are about 3 ft. across. I have about 70 roses and they tolerate this very well. Your soil also looks a little anemic.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 6:11PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Thank you, Michael!
Thank you, Susan!

I'll take some more shots tomorrow to post here, but I definitely see some improvement! The new leaves are a very pretty green. Should I trim off the sickly leaves?

Susan, I also noticed how wimpy the soil looks...any suggestions? Should I just put some mulch there? or add some compost around the base?

Thanks!
Betty

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 1:01AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Great! Leave the pale foliage on, it may recover in time.

Maintain a 2" mulch of any organic material (bark, leaves, shredded yard waste, wood chips) around roses or any plants you care about, except the ones that slugs bother. Over the years, the mulch will rot into the topsoil and improve it substantially.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:48PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Thank you, Michael!

Today, I peeled back more of the weed fabric, and moved away more of the rocks. Then I applied a nice thick layer of bark mulch.

I also noticed something else, and wondered about it....

Before:

After:

I noticed that, in addition to cutting back the rose bush, I also pruned back the green shrub just to the left. I'm wondering if it provided some protection and shade for the roses..

Could that have been a factor?
If the heat and sun are indeed stressing the rose bush, did cutting back that shrub contribute?

What do you think?
Maybe I could put up a light screen of some kind until the shrub grows back up?

Thanks!
Betty

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 10:13PM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

Betty,
The shade might be a factor. I think the bigger factor was the rock mulch and lack of nutrients. I'm glad your rose is bouncing back. It was 100 degrees yesterday and 98 the day before with those lovely winds! Check the moisture regularly since your rose has already been stressed. Roses do want full sun for the most part, but full sun as sea level is different than full sun at 1 mile elevation. What side of the house is the rose on and how much sun a day does it get? It looks like the tree is giving it some shade.
I think what you've done so far should restore your rose to health over time. Keep an eye out for aphids and other critters (aphids and grasshoppers are showing up at my place 20 miles north of you). If you have compost or humus now, put some under the mulch and plan on feeding the rose lightly again in a few weeks. We may get some rain over the next few days that will break down the fertilizer you've already put down and get it into the soil. Nice work!

Barb

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 9:24AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Just keep in mind that the problem is iron deficiency caused by alkaline soil and/or waterlogging. Shade vs. sun would not affect the nutrient deficiency.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 9:50AM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Hi Barb!

The rose bush is on the east side of the house, and that little crabapple gives it some shade early in the day. I think it's in direct, full sun from about 930 am to 130 pm...I'll have to check.

Thanks, Michael!

I'll try to show some new pictures soon. I think you'll notice some improvement!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:19PM
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