The Q&A Archives: yellow roses

Question: Why do my yellow climbing roses turn white as they open? They also do not grow well, approximately three feet.

Answer: You didn't give the name of your rose so I don't know if it is normal or not. Rose colors are not always exact. In one garden it can be quite different from the same rose in another garden. Even more perplexing is that a rose grown in any one garden can change quite a bit under varying temperature, moisture, and fertilization conditions. Graham Thomas, for instance, can produce almost buttery yellow blossoms in hot weather, but the color can darken almost to apricot in cool weather in some parts of the country.

Color can also vary with time. For most blossoms in the apricot color region the bud is relatively dark but the flowers fade markedly as they open. This may be what is happening in your garden. Some China roses darken with age: Old Blush goes from pale pink to a nice saturated pink, and Mutabilis changes from yellow through apricot and pink darkening finally to red. This characteristic was inherited by Masquerade. And in Double Delight the petals start out a pale lemony white. It is only when the blooms are warmed by sunlight that they turn crimson. In late fall, the flowers are mostly pale primrose and just tipped with a blush of crimson. So a single bush might at different times produce flowers so different from each other as to be barely recognizable as being from the same plant.

The bottom line is that some yellow-apricot colored roses fade to white and it is a normal occurance.

If your rose is not putting out new growth at all, I'd be concerned that it is not getting adequate sunlight (8 hours of direct sunshine a day is required), is not receiving enough water, or has not been fertilized on a regular schedule. Roses are heavy feeders and should be fed every 6-8 weeks. The standard practice is to apply a small handful of powdered rose feed around each plant and hoe in slightly after pruning in March - April (After the winter frosts). Repeat this in June - July, and again in late August, but no later in the season as this may result in the production of frost sensitive growth.

Hunger signs can include premature petal fall or small, poor quality flowers. Pale or discolored leaves or small leaves with scorched leaf edges are other signs. If your rose is consistently showing signs of disease or any stunted growth or weak stems, this may be cured by a good feeding schedule.

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