New roses for old

NakiNaki Posts: 14

There's  a rose I'm fond of, but which is twenty years old and definitely flagging.

Can I perpetuate it successfully with cuttings? i.e will the new plants behave like new young roses and have a twelve-year lifespan, or will they behave like a twenty-year-old, like the old mother plant ?



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    imageSlightly confused are you asking how long the new roses from cuttings will survive as new plants-why do you think 12 years?

  • NakiNaki Posts: 14

    I'm told twelve years is how long you can expect a rose to survive and thrive before replacing it. I'm wondering whether cuttings from it, once established, will behave as new plants, and survive and thrive as such, or whether they will be inferior, having come from a 'spent' mother plant, and therefore not last the normal span.

    In other words is it worth taking cuttings fron a plant that's had its day, or will the plants produced be inferior and short-lived?

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    There will be posters here who will tell you they have had many a rose last longer than 12 years as have I-this is news to me

    You will be creating a new plant so it will live as long as it lives- as do all cuttings from any other plant-a rose will not be any different-why should it be?

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I'm just wondering where you've got these times from. Many roses last a lot longer than twenty years - I have have several which are much older, and thriving - and if a rose was past its best at twelve years I'd be amazed.

    If your rose is flagging, prune it well next year, and feed it well as well as giving it a good mulch. Make sure that it doesn't go short of water, and you should see a significant improvement.

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    This is the first year I've tried taking cuttings from my roses, I took 7 about 6 inches long when I pruned it back from 2 different rose bushes (pink climber and red gift rose). 3 of the cuttings are happily growing away in a corner before they go off to my sister in laws garden up north, the other 4 haven't done anything yet but I haven't lost anything if they don't root.

    You may as well try taking cuttings when you prune the bush back in the autumn, we all love free plants and it's really easy especially as you'll be cutting the plant back anyway.

    Good luck!

  • NakiNaki Posts: 14

    Thank you all.                                                                                              Your prediction was correct, Sotongeoff!                                                             Alina, my local Wyevale Garden Centre, and my David Austin Roses catalogue both indicate that after twelve to fifteen years roses won't perform so well and will need replacing.    Certainly all my oldest ones ( twenty years plus ) though pruned every year, do not produce an abundance of flowers as do the younger ones  - which seems consistent with that advice.  I have taken successful rose cuttings, and as you say, Leggi, there's no point not doing so, but I was simply wondering whether taking from really old plants would mean their offspring were less vigorous /robust /long-lived.    One thing I'm a bit haphazard about is feeding, though. Next year Alina, I'll  feed regularly and see if i can rejuvenate the golden oldies.              

    Thankss again


  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    Naki - I have a similar quandary.  I've been rejuvenating a garden for the past 3 years which had been badly neglected.  There are half a dozen old roses which to my knowledge have been there for well over 25 years.  I was reluctant to interfere with them in any way and for 3 years have dilligently pruned, fed, mulched, watered, sprayed at the first sight of aphids etc.  To no avail.  I don't know which roses they are.  All have about 3/4 very  tall thin stems and after yearly pruning to a third of height, they shoot up in the Spring to full height, produce only one or two buds and at this time every plant becomes covered in powdery mildew and I end up having to cut off almost all of the leaves.  When the buds flower they only last about a week and  they always seem too heavy for the spindly thin stems.  Consideration for the previous gardener made me reluctant to dig them up but this year I've given up on imagining that any of these roses are going to be any different.  I've dug up three, reluctantly, and for the ones which are left I had wondered, like yourself, if any cuttings taken would actually be strong enough to root as these roses look absolutely exhausted. 

  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    Dear me, I've seen some bad advice before but.......A few years ago I was in Tombstone, Arizona, where I saw the World's Largest Rose. It was massive and 150yrs old. The World's oldest Rose Bush is at least 1,500yrs old and grows alongside Hildesheim Cathedral. My own garden has 73 roses and I expect them all to outlive me. Provided the soil is good and well composted, the bushes are correctly pruned, fed and watered, they can and will live for years. When we moved here eighteen years ago, we inherited some very old and gnarly roses. With proper treatment all have responded with fresh healthy growth and flowers.

  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    I should have added that very occasionally they will wilther away and no effort would save them. Roses particularly dislike sandy soil for instance. So the time comes when they may need grubbing up and replacing with a new rose. Roses also dislike being planted in the same spot as an old rose so either dig a big hole and replace the soil with fresh stuff taken from elsewhere in the garden or sink a cardboard box in the ground and fill this with fresh soil. Cuttings? I find those of mine taken on October work best. 9" tall and placed in a tall flower pot in a 50/50 mixture of GP compost and vermiculite. Allow a full twelve months to produce a good root system then pot on into individual pots. 18 months to two years and they are ready to grow into the ground.

  • NakiNaki Posts: 14

    My reply to Yarrow2 seems not to have been added to the forum. His experience exactly mirrors mine.I preferred to consult a forum as I'm a bit suspicious that advice from a garden centre might be coloured by their desire to sell more plants!! However, as there doesn't seem to be categorical advice about the predictable performance of  cuttings taken from old bushes, I shall consult with a few garden centres and if I get useful advice, I'll add it to this thread.

    Thank you for all comments.

    Watch this space !

  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    Paul N:   Can I pick your brains here?

    The old roses which I have been reluctantly removing are in a garden which I have known of for over 20 years but only been gardening in for 3.  To my knowledge these roses were planted at least 15 years before I knew this garden.  So I'm assuming they were put in the ground at least 35 years ago.  Each one had between 2 and 4 1" thick dormant brown woody dormant stems which seemed to have been cut off about 6" high and left as they were.    From this I thought there must have been continual rejuvenation work on these roses over a period of years.

    Second factor:  The garden has much changed since these roses were planted.  Each was planted only a few inches in from a surrounding low stone wall.  Also, there are now trees growing to a height of about 15-20ft near the roses which have substantial canopies which would not have been the case when the roses were planted.  So none of them are in full-sun all day and having heard about 'toxic drip' from trees I'm wondering if this is part and parcel of the consistent mildew.  The mildew always appears when the tree canopies are mature round about mid-May. 

    Do these sound like reasonable assumptions to make as contributing factors to the weakness and failure of the old roses?  I'd probably add to that the fact that I have been pruning them to a third of growth in early Spring each year.  Feeding them as soon as leaves appear and feeding again round about mid-June each year.  Which may also have been a contributing factor to their demise?  Pruning too much so that the new stems were too weak to support the 'one bud per stem' outcome - as well as there always being stems which produced no buds at all?

    I think I've tried as much as my level of confidence has allowed, but to be honest, I'm tired trying each year to improve them and not succeeding.  For sanity's sake I'm tempted to dig them all up.  Getting rid really does bring on a dose of guilts though. 

    I inherited 8 roses earlier this year from a family member which were part of the old family home and am on tenterhooks to look after them well.  They are in a different bed.  Won't know until they bloom what they are - so I wait in hope that they will fair better in my inexperienced hands.





  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    Naki - I'm sorry if I seem to have hijacked your thread here.  I'm terrible for doing this if I see someone posting a problem similar to mine - I jump at the chance to ask questions whenever someone with experience appears on the thread and seems to know the answers to the problems.  Sorry about that.

  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    Right, ideally roses should have about six hours of light to thrive although of course some will tolerate shade better than others. But these are in the minority. Today I was in a pub garden in Twickenham (Father;s Day you see) and saw a nice white rose (perhaps 'Iceberg') in bloom but in the shade of a massive tree. The tree not only shades your old roses but deprives them of water and neutrician. 

    What would I do? Well for me all old roses are worth saving no matter how decrepid they are. Why not wait until October/November when they start to become dormant, then dig each one up with the largest ball of soil you can manage (OK, rose roots aren't a tightly bunched mass and most soil will fall away), and move them to another part of the garden. Reduce height to one third, water well and regularly, and feed. Take a cutting or two as well and fingers crossed, in the spring, you may well see new signs of life from the parent plant or the cuttings.


  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    Paul N:  Many thanks for the reply and advice.  Where it is possible I will be attempting to save what I can by probably moving one or two. 

    Naki:  think you should know I'm not a 'he' but a 'she' - and Paul N. - to inject more humour  - the last 2 oldies I dug up were a three-hour solitary battle which involved ripping up those roots which had worked their way under that little stone wall to the garden next door.  Some time later, whilst pondering the advantages of 'Deep Heat' versus it's not so jolly aroma - I could almost bend down far enough to clearly study 2 foot lengths of root in detail knowing full well there will still 'remains' in the ground which I had to 'fight' another day.  For one, I was reduced to using an electric saw!  But that is the one I now regret as it was in the front garden, had beautiful blooms but was 8 foot high, with a 2" thick stem - had beautiful blooms, but was intruding on the public pavement and another garden.  Half of the root is still in the ground as it was completely under a wall and considered unsafe etc. 


    This one I will always regret.  I don't know what it was - but wondered if it was 'Masquerade'.  And sacrilege - I didn't have time to take cuttings.



  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    'Masquerade'? It certainly looks like it. I'd take a couple of flowers and visit your local nursery or garden centre and compare them.

    I'm not immune to making mistakes though. Last year I found my 'Zepherine Drouhin' growing through a thicket of jasmine and honeysuckle and although it was September I went against all advice and my better judgement, dug her up and transplanted her. The single long branch was about 8ft long. In spite of all the water and care in the world, she progressively passed away. Stupid impatience on my part and the first transplanted rose I'd lost in years. 'Albertine' now in her third position is growing exceedingly well with lots of flowers and buds. I cannot say no to orphans either. My son had a standard Rosa glauca growing within inches of his back door, and the tending hands of his children, and he implored me to take it away. It's now doing nicely at the bottom of the garden.


    BTW 'neutrician' should read 'nutrients'. Sunday was a looooong dayimage

  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    'Tender' not 'tending' (doh).

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