The Q&A Archives: No Blooms On This Rose

Question: I sure hope that you could give me some advice. Four years ago I bought a rose bush to plant on my mother's grave. This was a "MR. Lincoln" rose bush. The thing is it blossomed beautifully the first year that I planted it and hasn't bloomed since. I take care to cut it back each year to protect it in the winter months. The bush grows like crazy but no flowers have I seen for three years. I have decided that if I can't get it to bloom this year, I will have to remove it. My interest was to have this flower blossom annually as it was my mom's favorite flower. I have asked around but there is obviously a shortage of rose experts in Vermont. I was told all kinds of things to do, none of which worked. What do I need to do to this plant to see flowers?

Answer: Mr Lincoln is a hybrid tea rose and should bloom every year on the current year's new growth. Since it grows but does not bloom, I suspect what has happened is that the grafted top died that first winter and now the rootstock rose is growing instead. By pruning it back each fall, you are probably removing the (rootstock) wood that would bloom the following spring -- but even so it would not be Mr. Lincoln but some other rose, whatever the rootstock happened to be. Unfortunately, if I am right, the only thing to do is to replace it. This time, though, make sure to protect the graft union over the winter and make sure to plant the rose with the graft union well underground to help insulate it as well. I'm sorry about your rose.

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