The Q&A Archives: roses with no leaves

Question: I have a Renne Aubusson and a Playboy rose shrub, and for some reason this year they only have leaves at the very top. The rest of the plant is devoid of leaves. How come? Did I not prune back far enough?

Answer: If your roses never leafed out near the base, it may be caused by improper pruning. Shrub roses generally benefit from removing some of the oldest canes periodically to stimulate vigorous new growth from the base of the plant, they can also benefit from being thinned a bit this way to open the center of the shrub to better air and light penetration. Another possibility is that they need more direct sun -- in too much shade most roses become leggy and thin with growth only at the tips. Poor fertility and/or lack of soil moisture can also cause sparse growth. Usually when a rose leafs out and then defoliates at the base upward it is caused by poor drainage/overwatering or by a fungal infection with the spores splashing up from the ground. I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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