Support Your Non-Climber Roses

Supporting a non-climber roseMy pruning calendar or schedule has me doing my heavy rose pruning in January, followed by a lighter pruning in August, to stimulate a longer flowering season. However, with regard to my shrub (non-climber) roses, despite following the advice from experts to prune my rose plants to have a vase shape, inevitably, I find that some of the fresh new canes that emerge from the pruned roses grow out from the side anyway and stay low, and nearly to the ground. In other words, despite human intervention, canes can still sometimes grow outside of the vase shape naturally! What to do? You could always remove these low-growing canes, but then all of the flowers that would have been produced from these canes will be gone forever.

Another strategy, if they’re not being attacked by pests or disease or proving a safety hazard, is to do nothing. Two canes of one of my floribunda rose plants, City of San Francisco, grow low to the ground. These low canes have produced abundant flowers but not posed any problems for me so I let them be. They provide good visual interest at the height of flowering season, from top to bottom!

HOW TO: Another strategy, pictured above with my Helmut Schmidt hybrid tea rose, is to use twine (mine is white plastic twine) or other durable material and tie the low-growing cane very carefully and securely to another part of the rose plant to give it support so that the cane does not snap or break off from the stress of the added weight of this cane (and inevitable flowers growing from it). When I got this plant, it already had a low growing cane (pictured) that was under heavy stress from breaking. In fact, another of its low-growing canes, with many flowers, had already broken, but not completely. The cause of the break was obvious. I tied the “surviving” low-growing cane to another part of the plant and it continued to flower uninterrupted.

If this is not possible, you may try a strategy that I’ve used successfully with my heavy-flowering cymbidium orchids: put a stake securely in the ground (or potting soil of the container if that’s where your rose plant is growing) right next to the low-growing cane and tie the twine-wrapped cane to the stake. You’d want to do this when the canes are still young and more pliable, when training low-growing canes would be easier. There’s no single “right” way to do this since each rose plant is unique.

If you go this route, be sure the stake is thick enough and tall enough for your rose plant. You don’t want a weak stake that breaks from the stress of being a support device for your growing rose plant, or a stake that’s too short that it cannot accommodate a growing plant, possibly stunting the growth of that plant.


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