explain blind growth

Zyperiris(Seattle)July 12, 2012

I don't understand how one knows it's blind. Can you explain it?

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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Maybe this will help.


Here is a link that might be useful: GLOSSARY entry for

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:42PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

Hi. I posted earlier about blind wood and remember your comment about your rose that seems partially blind.

If you have a healthy mature rose that isnt blooming (young roses may need more time to bloom), or parts of your plant arent blooming-- and these branchs/parts seem atleast a little extra leafy.... You may have blind growth.
There is no smoking gun, beyond that. Luckily The cure is just to prune it back. Cut the bushy part off.
You just have to make a decision... Kinda like deciding if your kid needs to go to the doctor or not with an illness. * you* dEcide what you are willing to put up with and what you want to do. Eventually you get a routine.

I got this great advice here... But,, i was also just reading in my favorite gardening encyclopedia that blind growth is akin to a sucker and does the plant no good and should be removed to make way for healthy growth.

Where to cut it back can seem perplexing if the blind part is really overgrown and bushy. I can say this: i think it's not that big a deal where you cut it- just that you *do* cut it. i cut blind growth off of both an old and a young plant and i cut it both way down and just a few inches back on both. So each plant got about 5 to 6 cuts. EVERY cut i made brought healthy red growth and a flower bud at each cut.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:41AM
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" But,, I was also just reading in my favorite gardening encyclopedia that blind growth is akin to a sucker and does the plant no good and should be removed to make way for healthy growth."

But, foliage produces food, transpires water to create the siphon to draw sap from the roots to the branch tips and provides 'sun block' for the canes to prevent them from suffering sun scald. I propose any healthy leaf a plant produces provides benefit. Each leaf counts toward the necessary threshold required to generate bloom, whether that branch flowers or not. Those leaves shield those canes from potential sun damage and they play a part in sap flow, drawing water and nutrients from the roots upward.

I disagree with the statement that "blind growth is akin to a sucker". A sucker takes nutrients away from the budded scion and can eventually overtake it, leading to the decline and potential death of the scion. Blind growth IS a piece of the scion, and as such, helps feed and protect it, assisting in drawing resources from the roots upward. Unless the particular blind growth is diseased, afflicted by fungal issues, it is not, as is implied by the quote, "unhealthy", requiring removal to make way for "healthy growth". Defining a shoot which has not produced a flower, but is otherwise un afflicted by disease as "unhealthy", is a misunderstanding of the plant's operation.

I also propose the plant knows what it requires far better than we do. Where is it written that EVERY shoot created by a plant MUST produce a flower? If, as has been suggested, a cooler, perhaps wetter spring produces blind growth, logic and knowledge of how the plant "thinks", why it does what it does, would tell you creating a flower from that blind growth would probably have not resulted in a fertilized bloom, therefore no seeds for future generations. Too cool, too wet weather and bees aren't going to be active, so the only pollination probable would be self set due to anthers folding over the stigma. But, if those parts are wet, pollination is not likely to occur. That is why a rose, or any other plant makes flowers, to reproduce and perpetuate the species. Blooming is ovulation. If conditions were not appropriate for pollination or for the pollinators to be active, producing flowers would be a waste of those resources.

Perhaps that blind growth was formed to help feed the plant, maintain it, set the stage for a heavier bloom load once conditions improved and pollination potential increased? Perhaps the reason that blind growth occurred was due to hormones, auxins or other plant growth regulators stimulated by the cooler, wetter, perhaps less sunny conditions to TELL the plant not to waste those resources creating a flower which would likely not result in seeds being created?

The demand that every branch, every cane, every stem result in a flower is artificial. It is man's unrealistic idea based upon our desires for what we want from the plant, not upon what the plant is genetically programmed to do to operate as efficiently, as perfectly as it was created to operate.

Blind growth, like yellowing leaves and a host of other perceived "ailments" are not necessarily bad, nor indicative of problems requiring correction. Kim

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:36AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Thank you for posting Kim!

Since almost all of my roses are new, I have not worried about the "blind growth" thinking it is giving life to the plant.

Good to hear that I am not totally nuts

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:56AM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

I guess to start, there must be an agreement the topic is about blind growth. �I believe they invented the term blind for a reason: because it's aberrant.
Actually I do think it's a lot like a sucker-- because i dont believe suckers (on a non- budded rose) really hurt a plant either, do they? �they create leaves, food, grow the mass etc etc- ... it's just that it is putting energy into a plant in places you dont want. �It's a waste of growth unless you want a 30 foot wide shrub eventually. �And on budded roses, it's putting healthy growth into the wrong rose.

Say, do you propogate? �Isnt that unnaturally growing your rose in ways you choose- not it chooses?

Everyone has their preferences, �and if you prefer an "unmanaged approach" which allows a bloom season pass with no flowers (on a mature rose, i stated) to carrying out a fairly extensively documented and even slightly studied solution of pruning (pruning, as a rule, is considered by most to be essential to caring for healthy /attractive roses- atleast a majority of the time) �then �that's another way to do it I guess. But, �pruning of *blind* wood would be the more standard and preferred approach. �

I genuinely think this year folks are seeing more blind wood and candleabras... So, the topics coming up a bit more and it's a valid learning point. �I knew what blind wood was, but never had fully blind bushes till this year. ��

Recently i also looked into various universities, rose committees etc thoughts on blind wood (prune it) and learned that in a recent study- blind wood once tipped (as though it had a flower and was then deadheaded) can be extra productive. �Apparently they think the failure of the terminal bud leads to extra vigor at producing flowers in the side shoots. �Your idea it is flowerless due to weakness seems to be unlikely, if that's true. �It's more likely a little hiccup birth defect that made the terminal bud not happen.
So-I say woot to getting more blooms- but tomayto tomahto.�

....yellow leaves CAN on occasion indicate one needs to water differently, fertilize or etc. �It's not wrong of folks to share their �concerns/ ask for improvement help here. � �Even if what they learn is the rose is just fine and to leave it alone and enjoy. �(i learned this on a weirdly behaved little wm shakes 2000)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:05AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

The OP asked how to identify a blind shoot: the topmost leaf is green and mature-looking. On non-blind shoots, the top leaves are obviously immature until the flower bud forms and enlarges.

Kim is correct that blind growth nourishes the plant. Therefore one should not remove blind shoots from small, weak plants. In an established plant, one might remove blind growth if it is shading other leaves or causing congestion that might encourage disease.

A clump of blind shoots with small, crowded leaves indicates that the underlying cane is sick and should be pruned down to healthy wood or removed. Winter damage often causes this pattern where temperatures have fallen to 5 F or colder.

The discussion of "suckers" needs to distinguish between suckers from rootstock (very bad) and those from an own-root plant (good if you want a wider plant)..

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 8:53AM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

Wow! So all the advice I got here on blind wood, and all the books are wrong on pruning blind wood- it should be left alone to nourish?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:13PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

I'm reading Kim's & Mike's information as a caution to never interpret things as solid black-or-white. It's not as easy as making a declaration that all blind growth is bad, or all blind growth is good.

What I glean from the posts above is that you have to consider the age, size, and health of the plant before making a determination to hack off any non-blooming piece of it that could ultimately be useful. Mike gives a description of blind growth that SHOULD be pruned due to cane sickness.

All kinds of factors go into a decision: is it abnormally hot or cold? Sunny or overcast? Wet or dry? Are you being attacked by bloom pests? Is there an abundance or lack or proper soil nutrients? Is this abnormal behavior for an otherwise happy rose?

If I had a large hybrid tea that I'm otherwise satisfied with & I had a maybe 10% blind growth that didn't indicate sickness, I'd leave it. If I had a higher percentage, I might cut a bit to see if it changed anything.

If I have a rose that has suddenly stopped producing new shoots and buds, but it's been getting proper amounts of water & fertilizer and temps are in the 100's....well, it probably just shut down due to extremes and I wouldn't dare start cutting her back.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 1:20PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Right, I didn't say that blind growth should always be retained, except on small or weak plants. Here is a point in favor of retaining, though. Google > bent canopy rose. In greenhouse rose production, many producers fold down blind shoots and those judged too weak to produce a salable flower. These are left hanging down to collect sunlight and energy without blocking sunlight from the productive vertical stems. Some studies have shown that it leads to more flowers or longer stems.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:24PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

That's interesting. The study i referencEd earlier discussed the blind wood as being more floriferous if propogated-- this sounds like pegging works.
Again- i think besides bunchy bloomless growth, tbere's no smoking gun. It's a judgement call.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Bingo! You connected the dots and followed it through to the final conclusion, Flaurabunda! (And, thank you, Mike!) The 'books' are written with the slant of "every rose must be perfect, in full flower, 'florist quality' at all times". It's the traditional ARS/Ortho Chemical party line, and it just isn't realistic. Nothing in Nature is perfect at all times. Everything has pests, diseases, ailments which cause it distress. The pressure put on you as a plant grower, by organizations and manufacturers to sell you memberships and products, that your roses (or any other plants) can NEVER be off the 100% mark, or you're a bad steward of them is absurd. Like everyone always striving to BE a Martha Stewart, without her legions of support people actually DOING the work behind the scenes. It can't be done, and trying to make it so, is not only impossible, but unsustainable, leaving you defeated and feeling like a failure.

But, thinking it through, knowing why the plant does what it does, how it reacts to various weather patterns, seasons, temperatures, nutrients and other stimuli, enables you to see though the "junk legend" which has been blindly plagiarized and repeated ad nauseam by each "expert" in succession.

Yes, suckers do feed and shield the plant. Unfortunately, they are attached to and closer to the roots, so they can quite literally 'suck' away all nutrients to the point of starving out the desired scion. "Suckers" on an own root plant are called basals, which are absolutely necessary if your desire is for the plant to rejuvenate itself and remain healthy and productive.

It shouldn't be surprising that when pruned appropriately, most blind growth goes on to create a flower. The fastest repeat flowering rose reported by exhibitors in this area, repeats in about 36 days after being pruned. That means most other roses, particularly in areas less encouraging to fast repeat than this, will take appropriately longer to create new flowers. The initial weather or other conditions which stimulated the plant to produce that blind growth will have usually changed rather dramatically in that span of time. Had no pruning been done, most likely the rose would have developed a new cane down from the blind growth tip and put out flowers from it anyway. That has been my observation here for many years. Culture will help determine how quickly, as will weather, climate and the particular variety in question. Some types, HPs in this climate in particular, are rather prone to blind growth. Perhaps that is a further indication of their unsuitability for this type of climate?

We have a real tendency to over react to the slightest thing we feel may be irregular, "unnatural" or wrong, like first time parents with the newborn. Much of it is very natural, really not all that irregular and very much of it will teach us that if we have patience and wait it out. Kim

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:54PM
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