Grafted Rose Autopsies

Rosa 'Easy Going':Photobucket

'Easy Going' unfortunately preferred growing extremely tall to blooming.  I experimented with hard pruning between flushes, in the hopes of keeping it short.  It preferred to grow tall again before blooming, which doomed it.  'Easy Going' had excellent rust and mildew resistance, and would still be in the ground had it stayed reasonably short, say under six feet (2 meters).  I do not want a 4 meter floribunda. 

'Easy Going' was originally a grafted plant with a 'Dr Huey' root system.  An autopsy revealed that it had own-rooted itself thoroughly, without any root or crown gall.  The remainder of the 'Dr Huey' roots were disappearing as the 'Easy Going' root system thrived.

'Easy Going', with plenty of its own roots:

To allow a grafted rose to "go own-root", plant so that the entire bud union is either just below the surface, or halfway buried.  Some roses easily go own-root, and produce a forest of canes (and a blizzard of flowers).  Some roses simply don't go own root.  This may be a function of the number of dormant bud eyes in the wood--few bud eyes, few opportunities for roots to sprout. 

The Austin rose 'Tamora', orginally grafted, now an own-root thicket of canes that produce a tumult of flowers:

'Easy Going' grew so large it became a nursery for birds:

Adios, 'Easy'. 

Rosa 'Andre le Notre' aka 'Betty White', in a rare moment of beauty:

'Andre le Notre was a replacement for another rose, 'Abbaye de Cluny', that suffered horribly from Thrips damage.
 'Abbaye de Cluny', the King of Thrips:

'Andre' aka 'Betty' unfortunately suffered from the same problem, though not quite to the same extreme.  Most of my roses are always heavily infested with Thrips.  Some, however, show little or no damage.  The pale-colored flowers of high-centered form, of which 'Andre le Notre' was one, are the most vulnerable to damage.  The best way to prevent Thrips damage is to spray the individual flower buds with a virulent chemical pesticide, which I chose not to do.  Bye bye, 'Andre'.  Bummer.  It was a beauty when it was beautiful, which was rare.

This originally grafted rose was in the process of own-rooting itself as well:
Red arrows indicate the 'Andre le Notre' roots sprouting from the bud union.  Purple arrows indicate the original shank where the 'Dr Huey' was grafted with the 'Andre le Notre' budeyes.  The green arrow indicates the bud union, and the blue arrow indicates the 'Dr. Huey' roots, still active.

Here's another example of a grafted rose going own-root.  This time the roots are sprouting from one of the canes that came in contact with the ground.  Austin roses, like 'Mary Rose' will often do this: 

So, my conclusions on 'Easy Going' and 'Andre le Notre'.  An autopsy (if you could call it that) revealed neither rose was suffering from a devastating disease like root gall.  They were in adequate locations with sufficient water and nutrients.  Both roses were growing and vigorous. Yet I dug them up, though not without regret.  They did not meet high expectations.   My fault or theirs?  Must fault always be assigned?  I used to think so.  Not so much any more. 

Learn and move on.  That is the way of the gardener, and of the world.


  1. Well shoot, I've been growing roses for probably 25 years and it never occurred to me to bury the graft. I feel dopey ! I'm temped to dig up a couple of the more recent plants and try it. And oh yeah, that tall floribunda thing--I planted Salvia ugilinosa behind Daybreaker, and never saw it again. It's still back there somewhere I'm sure..

  2. 'Day Breaker' won over Salvia ugilinosa? Here the Salvia won, and keeps on winning. I've been digging it out for years to contain its rampant spread and it keeps reappearing. Climate, eh?

  3. You have the most terrifying bud unions I've ever seen. The Godzilla of Bud Unions! Someone should make a movie.

  4. You are right, they are pretty scary looking, PigsnieLite!

  5. Oh no, Eden says its got to go, oh no, rootzilla...yea...yea...yea...

  6. Hello good afternoon!! I found your blog recently and I must say I love it !! This particular article seems very interesting. Although I also growing roses in my garden I guess I enjoyed very different climates. My garden is in Madrid (in Spain) in the Sierra, an area of not very deep with very hot summers and freezing. I invite you to visit my blog if you want I'll be happy with their written comments if you want to leave. I'll follower of his blog and put a link on mine to be visited. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise. Greetings from Madrid !!
    The link to my blog is:
    It's called The Garden of Joy in Madrid.

    1. Hello! Greetings from Southern California! Thank you for visiting and thank you for the link to your blog, it is very good. Our climate is somewhat similar, though I think your winters are colder than mine.

      Happy gardening!


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