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Horticulture/Rejuvenating a climbing rose


After a harsh winter, most of Rosa 'Zéphirine Drouhin' has died back, leaving two stems over 6 feet long. One has no side growth. The other is branched, but snow forced it down nearly to the ground. Thought about attaching a picture, but it would make you cry.

I'm not sure how to care for a damaged climber. Do these stems need to be cut down to the ground before new shoots will emerge from the base? I am certainly willing to sacrifice the existing growth if that will rejuvenate the plant.

I thought of layering the bent stem to produce more plants, but given what the plant has gone through, I'm not sure if this would be too much stress. I have also found conflicting information on how to layer a climbing rose. One source said to simply peel off a very thin layer of bark on the underside of buried portion of the stem.
Another said to make a cut halfway through the stem and use rooting hormone.
Another specified that the wound must be at a leaf node, but I'm sure I read somewhere about internodal rooting.

Finally, the two stems look a little different. It occurred to me one stem could be a sucker from the rootstock (I don't know if my plant is grafted). Since both stems are long and climbing (or trying to), does this mean they are both 'Zéphirine Drouhin'? I assume they don't use climbing roses for rootstock.

Hi Janet,

These Bourbon roses are grown on their own rootstock.  I personally would not cut the runners back to the ground.  You could cut them back halfway and root the prunings instead of throwing them away.  I find they root very easily if stuck in ordinary garden soil in the shade.  I just cut them into 6" pieces and stick them under a shrub - I don't turn the soil or use rooting hormone.  Layering one or both runners would work, too.  For that I would use loose soil, and pin them to the ground in 2 or more places - bobby pins work well for this.  They will root themselves without you wounding them - which might introduce undesirable pathogens.  just keep them slightly moist. Give them about 2 months to form roots. Give the main plant a light feed with some rose food.


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Susan Tabor


Entomology,plant pathology, agronomy, native plants, useful and edible plants,medicinal plants,landscape design and installation, plant taxonomy and identification, cultivars and varieties, Botany, nutrient deficiencies, plant recommendations and troubleshooting.


35 years as a professional horticulturist and landscape contractor. I have a network of contacts at leading universities and with acknowledged experts in the field. I've restored the landscapes of several plantations, 2 Governors mansions and owned/managed 3 nursery/garden centers. I discovered a new subspecies of Emelia in 1997. I've locally introduced several native or volunteer species into mainstream landscape design.

Morning Advocate The Register Better Homes and Gardens All Experts - Approx 1996-97

Louisiana State University - horticulture David L. Hoffman - California - phytotheraphy

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