The Q&A Archives: Black Stems On Rose Bushes

Question: We planted a tea rose last year and it did very well. We followed all of the recommendations for getting it ready for winter. When I looked at it the other day, I noticed that the stems have turned black, but are still green at the bottom. Is this supposed to happen? What should I do now?

Answer: I'd guess that the stem tips got a little too much frost. This is the time of year to prune, so prune back the damaged canes. Fresh new growth will appear a few weeks after pruning. Here are some basics for pruning hybrid tea roses: In the spring, remove the dead and damaged canes as far back as necessary. Then, remove any suckers that arise from below the graft union, if there is one (the swelling near the base of the plant). Next, select the healthiest canes (thicker and bright green) and cut off the rest. If your roses are just a couple of years old, save about 3-5 canes. Save more on older plants. Lastly, cut the flowering canes back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts about 1/4" above an outward-facing bud.

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