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Anatomy of a Rose

Before we prune anything,

 it's helpful to review some anatomy.

 Thorns, Spines and Prickles.... ouch - look at these...

MAIN CANES: grow straight up and support the bush, especially in a climber.

LATERAL CANES:  grow from the main canes and need to be gently trained horizontally (as close to 45 degrees as possible) because they are the only canes (especially on climbers) that bloom.

SUCKERS -  can emerge from  2  places:

One: on a grafted rose, a sucker will grow from the original rootstock

Two: a sucker can grow from the graft.

(see sketch above)

If it grows from the rootstock, the sucker will produce a cane that may flower, but it won't be the same as the rose you purchased.

The base root (or rootstock) is chosen for its hardiness to support the newly grafted (or 'budded") rose which could be too tender for some gardens without a strong rootstock. 

You'll want to remove the sucker because it can literally “suck” the nutrients from the root before they reach your (grafted) rose.

HOW? - Gently pull aside the soil from the base, until you can reach the sucker and tear it off.

If you cut it, it will grow back.

Rose Leaflets: 3 leaves and 5 leaves

Deadhead above a 5 leaflet

as the cane will be thicker

and strong enough to support a new bloom 

BUD UNION is the area, knot or nubby growth at the base

 of the rose where all canes start.

The bud union is on both an "own root" or "grafted" rose

(where one rose has been grafted/budded

onto a stronger base or rootstock).

(sketch below)

Always plant your rose so the bud union is beneath the surface of the soil - especially in zones with freezing winters:

4 to 5 inches below.

BUD-EYE: the little swelling where new growth emerges

with a small half circle beneath.

Usually there is one main eye on a cane

with 2 "guard" eyes - one on each side,

so if one dies, the other will grow.

Above: Rose cane's emerging bud-eye

Above: Rose cane's emerged bud-eye 

The sketched bud-eye looks like an


 meaning it faces away from the centre

of the rose bush.

HOW TO TELL?...picture a line down the centre of the bush

and decide if the bud is facing inward

toward the centre

or facing toward the outside of the bush.

On the new "modern", hardy roses,

there isn't the same need to keep the centre open for air flow

 because most are disease resistant.

BASAL BREAKS are new growth

- they're the new reddish stems (or shoots) growing from the canes. Fragile at first, it means your rose is healthy

and putting up new canes that will bloom next season..

Be careful: if you knock it off by mistake, it will not re-grow.

Basal breaks will eventually replace

older, tired and bloomed-out canes.

On Own Root roses, basal breaks come from the base of the rose.

On Grafted or budded roses, basal breaks come from the graft itself. 

When the basal break reaches about a foot tall,

prune it back to a bud eye.

This forces the cane to branch out with more flowers.

When you shorten the cane, it has more energy for blooms.

New canes coming up from the ground,

might also be suckers coming from the rootstock

and below the graft.

(see also SUCKERS)

Basal breaks are new reddish canes

If your rose is a grafted rose,

and buried deep below the soil level,

the basal breaks might appear

as though growing separately from the stem 

as in the sketch above.

Be careful not to confuse new healthy growth

with that of the dreaded

Rose Rosette Disease (RRD).



See also: roserosette.org

BLIND SHOOT: grows tall quickly

but won't produce blooms

unless you prune it back to a healthy bud-eye.

One cause of blind shoots

is a late frost in the early spring

which can kill off new little buds. 

ROSE HIPS: when a rose “sets hips”

it sends a signal that discourages

the rose from producing flowers

and then creates a seed pod

so the rose knows it is time to go dormant.

Leave the hips for the birds (Vitamin C)






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