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How to Identify Suckers on Roses

PurpleRosePurpleRose Posts: 538
Hi all.

Since joining the forum, I have seen plenty of posts with pictures of Rose's asking to identify suckers.

I have often looked at these pictures and wondered how you can tell if the shoots are suckers or not.

I get that suckers come from the root stock that the rose is grafted onto. What I dont get is how they are identified. 

My husband is watching the football so i found myself online, garden googling and I thought I would do a bit of research and I am still no wiser on the subject. I now feel that I know less than when I started.

Thank you in advance 😁


  • micearguersmicearguers Posts: 621
    One of our resident rose experts ( @Marlorena ) at one point provided the rule of thumb (probably holds up in 99% cases or so) that if the shoot is reddish in colour it is not a sucker. In looking at my own roses and the questions and answers over here, it seems this is a very robust rule. I do not know what the caveats are, whether it depends e.g. on the rootstocks typically used in Europe.

  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    Yes, that's a good rule for solving most of the questions.
    If we are talking about the usual rose used in the UK as a rootstock, known under several names and usually simply called 'laxa', it has light green, spindly, often zigzaging, growth and matte green foliage. Usually, this is very different from the grafted rose variety (it can be similar to new growth on some old roses and species but usually it's easy to tell the difference). It also doesn't flower in its first year.
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,342
    edited June 2020
    Yes that's right.... the foliage and stem of the sucker will usually look very different to the rose you are growing... being a wild rose, it will have green stems and pale green foliage, like this one below.... will also have few thorns... it will be growing from either just below the graft union or further down direct from the roots... if it's growing from just under the graft it means whoever did the budding in the field, this is when they attach a piece of the scion [the rose you will buy] to the wild rose trunk, did not remove the dormant bud eye on the wild rose rootstock.. a good budder will cut them out.. if it's not cut out, then a sucker is liable to form from it..  I have noticed an increase in suckering from just below the graft is being reported, which indicates to me that less diligent rose budders are at work these days...
 can be harder to tell when we are growing a rose that has similar foliage to that, as can be the case with some old fashioned roses of the Alba and Gallica classes.. but not many people grow these now... so then you would have to look in more detail..

    ..this applies to British and European rootstocks where wild roses are used... in other countries like the U.S. and Australia, different rootstocks are used, and some of these are from cultivated varieties, not wild roses, and those suckers can look similar in colour to the rose they are growing... but that is not something we need worry about..
    East Anglia, England
  • TackTack Posts: 1,309
    This is great information, good question @PurpleRose . I've had a sucker keep regrowing about 4 inches away from where the rose meets soil (DA rose from DA) so I assume from a root. How do I remove it so it won't come back please.
    Central southern England
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,342
    ..sorry edhelka.. I didn't see your post before mine..

    ..well, the point is to try and remove it from right at its point of origin, but that isn't always possible if it's way below ground... sometimes you can remove some soil and feed it back but if not, you would just have to yank it out as best you can... it may regrow if it's not all removed but at least you know to keep an eye on it..'s not something I've experienced hugely,. less than a handful in decades... but there seems to be more of it just lately..
    East Anglia, England
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    Marlorena, you added more details, as always :)
    Last year, I had two suckers just below the graft on 'Scarborough Fair' which is an alba hybrid (although it's several generations far from alba, it has some alba traits) and they got me quite confused because I was unsure about the possibility of SF having light green growth. But it became quickly apparent and I've learnt to recognize SF new growth. Knowing the rose helps a lot.
  • PurpleRosePurpleRose Posts: 538
    Thank you very much for you replies. Once again you have all been very helpful 😁
  • TackTack Posts: 1,309
    Thank you @Marlorena
    Central southern England
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