The Q&A Archives: Roses not Blooming, but Plenty of Green Leaves

Question: I am new to growing roses and have been unsuccessful in my attempt. Last year I planted some Hybrid Tea roses and only got one bloom out of 4 bushes. I was wondering what I can do to get a successful bloom this year? I already have nice green leaves on them and it seems to look healthy, but that is exactly how it looked last year and did not sprout any roses.

Answer: Roses need two things for blooms: sun and nutrients. Are your plants receiving at least 6-8 hours of sun daily? Since the plants seem healthy otherwise, I suspect they might be missing essential nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the 3 major nutrients for all plants. (They correspond to the 3 numbers on fertilizer packages.) Nitrogen promotes growth of green leaves. It sounds like your plants are getting plenty of that. Phosphorous is essential for blooms. Roses are heavy "feeders" during their bloom period. I suggest you apply a rose fertilizer. The second and third numbers on the package should be higher than the first. Or, roses benefit from applications of
greensand, which contains potassium, and bone meal, which contains phosphorus. Both of these nutrients are important for flowering. The thing to avoid is feeding them with high-nitrogen fertilizer that will encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Keep them consistently moist and mulch with 2-3 inches of compost to help maintain soil moisture. Rosarians I know fertilize their roses every 6 weeks during the blooming season.

One other possibility is that the roses died above the graft and the rootstocks are growing. I think this is unlikely since you had the problem the first year they were planted, but I'll cover it for your information. Most tea roses are grafted onto a hardier rootstock. If the grafted variety succumbs to cold or disease, the rootstock often sends up shoots. You may be able to see if this is the case, depending on how deep you buried the graft union when you planted the roses. Dig around the base of the plants and look for the bulging graft unions. If the shoots are growing from below the graft unions, the rootstocks have taken over and it's time for you to replace the roses. If the shoots come from above the graft unions, your roses are still alive and the plants probably need a sunnier spot or more nutrients. Good luck!

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