Can I plant this moldy/fungusy rose bush?
May 30, 2014 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Just unwrapped my recently delivered William Baffin rose, to discover a lot of clumpy white and green mould or fungus all over the roots. This is the first rose I've planted, so I have no idea if this is normal (nitrogen nodules?) or if it is, as my instincts say, a very unhealthy thing (kill it with fire).

- Is it safe to plant it?
- Will planting it taint the soil?
- Can I wash it off with soap and oil and kill it thereby?

- Bonus question: Am I supposed to leaves the packing fibre around it when I plant it? So clueless.

Alas poor roots.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit to Science & Nature (4 answers total)
Best answer: Call customer service and explain how your rose bush arrived. They should offer to replace it if the mistake is theirs.

In the meantime, I'd remove the packing material. Is there mold on any of it? Photograph that to make your case to the company that sent the rose.

Next, try to remove the bigger mold spots, manually (wearing gloves, and/or wash your hands after), then spritz all the roots with some hydrogen peroxide mixed into water (try a tablespoon in a half gallon), and plant it in clean soil in a container. If it's thriving in a week or so, you can probably transfer it to the ground.

I keep a water bottle with a splash of hydrogen peroxide for spritzing all my houseplants--sometimes in humid weather, they develop moldy spots here and there--and it seems like enough to keep unwanted growths at bay without harming my plants. Good luck!
posted by magdalemon at 2:06 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I might be worth finding out whether the grower has used mycorrhizal fungi on the roots. That would be a good thing. But from your picture, it doesn't look a lot like it. Mycorrhizal fungi tend to be white and sort of furry/stringy. I'd highly recommend getting some anyway, while I'm on the subject. They give plants a real boost.

The mould is probably just a result of moisture and organic matter trapped around the roots in the packaging, rather than a disease of the roots themselves. I'd just wash it off, inspect the roots for damage, and plant the rose if everything looks ok.
posted by pipeski at 2:21 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! I've already contacted the vendor, sending them the same picture I posted here. I just didn't want to leave the poor thing sitting with its roots out all weekend and was reluctant to plant it (in a big pot, it's going to be a balcony plant) because I'd hate to throw out all that heavy soil I had to lug home.

I will try cleaning and planting in minimal soil for now to see how it does.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:34 PM on May 30, 2014

Response by poster: Wiped the mold/fungus off with a piece of paper towel, then, as I had no hydrogen peroxide, I put about a tablespoon of a "bio" cleaner solution consisting of borax, vinegar, and vegetal soap in a spray bottle full of water, spritzed the roots well, rinsed them off thoroughly, gave them one last spritz and planted.
Fingers crossed.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:49 PM on May 30, 2014

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