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Why are my shrub roses growing so tall, and what to do about it?

Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,617
Four of my shrub roses are trying to become climbers, but I don't want them to. They are Graham Thomas, Darcey Bussell, Oranges and Lemons and Westerland and they have all sent out tall stems, over 6 feet. They are supposed to be shrubs, although Westerland, according to Peter Beales, grows to 1.5m, mine is nearer 2.5m. Not all the stems grow so tall so the plants look uneven.

Should I cut the tall stems to the same height as the rest of the bush and will they flower if I do that?
Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.


  • EustaceEustace Posts: 2,000
    @Busy-Lizzie I have Darcey Bussel and Westerland. I do not seem to have 'octopus' canes on DB; but Westerland has some lanky ones. I cut them short so as to have a more rounded shrub. I haven't seen that affecting flowering as such, so far.
    Oxford. The City of Dreaming Spires.
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils (roses). Taking a bit of liberty with Wordsworth :)

  • WAMSWAMS Posts: 1,831
    Dove, I have seen those Paul Zimmerman videos and found them very helpful.

    Do you know if all roses can be trained sideways for more blooms, or only certain types (the naturally sprawling modern ones, or ones labelled "can be grown as a short climber", for instance)? Would an HT forced sideways with bamboo canes or whatever produce more flowers, or not?
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,617
    They do that at Sissinghurst too but it takes up a lot of room. Only Graham Thomas has room to be trained sideways along a fence. I'd wanted the others as shrubs. 

    I just wanted to know if it would affect flowering to cut back the long stems. @Eustace has answered that, that you, but it would still be helpful to know if anyone else has done it.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,646
    Yes, @Busy-Lizzie, my GJ and Winchester Cathedral do that all the time so I either take off a couple of feet when the tips have finished flowering or do the same if they throw up long canes with no buds appearing. It doesn't appear to affect flowering. I keep them to about head-height (5ft for me!).
     I suspect mine do it as they are backed by a tall evergreen hedge and they naturally want to reach more light.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,642
    @Busy-Lizzie I have a Graham Thomas which was bought as a short climber so maybe that's what you have too.

    In my Belgian garden, I had Queen of Swedenand Sceptr'd Isle which grew too tall andleggy for their position.   I trimmed Q of S back and she flowered OK but still tried to grow tall.  Here, cuttings from that rose have less lofty ambitions, probably due to the significantly drier climate.   

    I successfully pegged Sceptr'd Isle on year when I didn't get to orune it in time, bending the long stemsto peg them quite close to their own base.  The results were magnificent, producing masses of flowers.  You don'thave to oeg at a distance thattriples the width of the plant.

    Sent you a PM a few days ago.  Hope all is well with you and yours.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,617
    Thank you @Lizzie27 and @Obelixx. I've replied to your PM now, Obelixx.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,324
    Like Lizzie27 I cut back long octopus canes frequently on shrub roses and it’s never affected flowering. Just cut back to just above a full, healthy set of leaves as low as you want and a new flowering shoot will form there. I’ve never had that problem with Darcy Bussell, interestingly, even though my warmer climate encourages a lot of shrubs to throw out long canes.

    If you have the room to train GT along the fence it might be easier to do that. It’s climbing tendencies are quite strong. Alternatively you could try it on an obelisk.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,617
    Thank you @Nollie

    I can train GT along the fence and prune the others.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • tui34tui34 Posts: 3,206
    Mine are too @Busy-Lizzie   I'm going to try @Dovefromabove 's suggestion.  Thank you!
    A good hoeing is worth two waterings.

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