How to tell if my rosebush has a chance at life
May 30, 2006 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Is my rose bush dead? Last fall I didn't prune back my rose bushs. This spring 3 of them finally turned green after I pruned back some of the dead wood, but the last one (a climbing rose) is still seemingly dead sticks. Each one has successfully grown for years, never w/ much consistency in pruning, but now I have 2 feet of dead sticks on the remaining bush. How do I know if I should give up on it? Does it have a chance next year? I'm in Colorado in zone 5, for what it's worth.
posted by artifarce to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
These two sites have very good info on how to effectively prune climbers. The method is not the same as other roses - you don't prune nearly as far down on the cane. If you pruned all of your bushes in the same manner you may have taken too much live cane off the climber, and it may either be in shock or dead. If you're really curious, you could cut one cane down close to the ground and see what's in there. When you pruned it did you see any green or dark red on the cane?
posted by iconomy at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2006

We recently moved into a house with 120 rosebushes, of which we've kept sixty. (Don't panic — we gave the others away to good homes.) While I don't do any actual work with the roses, I listen to my wife's complaints.

It is quite possible that you've killed the plant, but it's also just as likely that you've merely put it into shock. If you have no objection to looking at sticks for a year, you might wait to see if you get new growth next spring. If you don't, then I'd call it a loss.

By the way: I hate our climbing rose. It's a weed! (Okay, it's fun to look at, but the thing grows something like thirty feet every day.)
posted by jdroth at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2006

Iconomy, that's a good point about the climbers. Of the various canes I cut on the climber, all of them were brittle/brown, except one, which while not green or red had more resistance. So I guess my answer is to wait and see. Thank you, both.
posted by artifarce at 4:53 PM on May 30, 2006

I asked my wife for more info: she says you should cut back past where you think it's dead. If the inside of the cane is brown and brittle, it's dead. If it's green, it's alive and it may start new shoots later. If it's white, you should look at whether it's dry and brittle (dead) or pliable (alive). Basically similar to iconomy's answer.
posted by jdroth at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

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