rosebush died quickly (2 weeks from live to dead)

minzeJuly 5, 2008

Sorry for the long post, this is my first time growing roses. I'll give a little history first then talk about the problem. I moved into this house in Feb 2007. Nothing in the yard had been taken care of for 2.5 years prior to me moving in. Prior to that 2.5 year period things had been very well cared for on the property. I learned this from the neighbors.

Many things were doing EXTREMELY bad to start off in the spring. I spent last spring/summer/fall carefully working to care for the rhododendrons, azaleas, Japanese maples, and roses to bring them back to good health.

Everything has taken off real well. This year there is new growth and great blooms on all of the plants that I have worked with. There was a lot of reading and research done on the web. I don't follow a totally organic process for the garden, but generally try to if I see there is a successful organic method for something.

For the roses, I have 4 bushes total. There were 3 when we moved in Feb of last year. Last spring I noticed a small shoot coming up in between 2 of the roses. I took care of it and it is now about 1.5 feet tall and has bloomed this year. Last year the largest bush had 1 bloom and the smallest of the original bushes bush had 1 bloom. That was it. Of the original 3 bushes, the 2 that each had one bloom last year exploded this year. They were blooming, I deadheaded and they continued to bloom. Even the bush that didn't bloom last year bloomed nicely this year.

My problem is that the largest bush has suddenly died. I last was out working with the bush 2 weeks ago. I had taken care of the bush and deadheaded. There were new buds that hadn't yet opened. It has rained a couple times here in the past 2 weeks so I didn't go around the side of the house to water or check things out. This weekend I went over and the rose is dead. All the leaves have fallen off and are on the ground around the bush. A few dead leaves are still stuck to the bush. The stems seem to be dying from the top down. There is still a good deal of green in the stems, but I see them browning at the top and it seems to be working its way down to the bottom. There are no leaves left on it at all. The only time I have ever seen anything die this fast was when weed killer was sprayed on it (no, I didn't spray it with weed killer).

The other roses are all fine, even the new 1.5 foot shoot that is next to it. I am worried that there was something specific that killed it and may hit my other roses.

The leaves that fell off were whole, not eaten. I didn't see any bugs on it or on any of the other roses. There were aphids earlier this year which I did spray all the bushes down with some bug killer that was safe for roses, but that was around 6 weeks ago or so.

Anyone have any ideas?

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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

I think this is an environmental issue because any type of infection is much slower acting. Did your neighbor do any spraying? Since the stems are mostly green, trim the stems back to living tissue using sanitary procedures.

Sterilize your shears in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 9 parts water before trimming and between each cut. Destroy all dead and removed material by burning or in the trash, just in case it is an infection.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 7:18PM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

Does it still have roots? A critter could have chewed them all down and killed your rose that quickly. Give it a tug and see if it comes out easily...

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 7:38PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Yeah, I'm suspecting voles, evil creatures who eat rose roots and leave the base looking like a sharpened pencil. If you can easily lift the plant out of the ground, and see gnawed marks, voles would be the culprit.

The other issue could be that the soil is too wet.

In either case, you may have to dig it up to determine the problem. If it still has roots, then you can try to put the plant in a pot to save it, and then look for a remedy to the problem.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Leaf drop doesn't necessarily mean plant death. What else did you do to the rose besides deadhead when you took care of it?

Rule out rodent damage by tugging on the plant to see if it firmly rooted. If it is still well-rooted, dig in the soil out at the drip line, down about 6 inches and describe the soil moisture level. A completely dry rose will drop all its leaves, as will a drowning rose. Roundup or other herbicide damage (Weed N Feed runoff, for example) will also cause leaf drop.

Finding the cause will determine the cure. Dry plants need water, wet roses need drainage, over-fertilized roses need lots of water, and roses sprayed with herbicide need...probably new roses and a clear understanding that roses are very sensitive to herbicides.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:45PM
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I just ran outside and gave the rosebush a tug. I could see it pulling up. there was still some resistance but it was definitely loose. I gave a tug to the medium rosebush next to it and it is solidly in the ground.

This makes a bit of sense. I found a small hole on the opposite side of the house next to the steps. I filled it in and whatever was there dug it back out. I took another look around my property and am seeing small holes all over the place. Seems like there are a lot of them.

I see that voles like to live under mulched areas and we just mulched the property this year. I'll do some research on the voles and how to possibly get rid of the little critters. Suggestions are welcome of course!

My next question will be how to try and save the rose. Since there is still green in the stem of the rose would using a rooting hormone then potting be the best course of action? I won't get to see the damage until morning but there is still some tension when I tug on the rose. It doesn't pull right up so I have hope.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 9:04PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

If there are still roots left you can prune it way back and it may survive. You need to protect the rose roots from the voles somehow. Here in Gopher country we plant the roots in wire cages--what is the procedure for voles? (Besides a great hunting kitty cat?)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 11:22PM
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Voles are demons! Sounds like you have it bad and will need to get them under control in a big way.

I plant all my roses in homemade hardware cloth cages for voles and gophers. The cages protrude above ground about 3-4 inches. You should have access to a product to discourage voles that is a fine, sharp rock, Permatil. They hate that and won't dig through it. I know they won't dig through that our regional drain rock (chipped granite), but it's not beautiful in the garden. You probably need a Permatil barrier around the edge of your garden.

Keeping any weeds cut will help predatory birds find and eat them. If you have dogs and cats, they may help in vermin control. When I clean up after my dogs, I treat the voles to my collections by dumping them down vole holes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Permatil Vole Bloc

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 2:37PM
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