The Q&A Archives: pruning

Question: I purchased a Monrovia rose

Answer: Unfortunately, there is a good chance your rose tree did not make it through the winter if you did not protect it in any way. These trees are grafted and just like the graft union on a normal rose bush, the graft (where the branches meet the trunk) requires extra protection during the winter in cold climates like yours. Left outdoors, I am afraid it probably was killed.

Normally I would have suggested you either bury the plant in a horizontal trench late last fall, or possibly bring it into a cool basement or garage where it could rest dormant (say 40 degrees, dark, soil kept barely damp), then bring it back outside in the spring to wake up naturally with the season.

At this point you will have to start at the branch tips and cut them back until you reach live wood. Dead wood will be brown or gray and brittle, it will snap in your hand. Live wood will have green under the bark and be flexible, it will also have plump firm buds. If there is live wood above the graft then the tree survived and should bloom again. If by some chance most of the branches are fine, trim it back by about two thirds of the branches. This will stimulate vigorous new growth. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging, and good luck with it!

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