The Q&A Archives: Puny Rose Branches

Question: My roses do not have stout branches, and sag when they bloom. I have been feeding once a month. I have an irrigation system, so they have steady moisture as well as a soaking once a week by hand. I have a decent bloom and no disease. The roses were planted this spring. Maybe they just need to grow?

Answer: Weak, spindly stems usually indicate a lack of nitrogen but since you've been regularly feeding your rose bush, I think we can discount this as a cause and look at some other possibilities. Is your rose getting all day sunshine? If not, growth will be spindly and bloom will be sparse. I would recommend pruning your rose back to sturdy stems and allowing them to develop new stems and leaves. If you don't want to prune the entire bush down, try pruning just one part of it and watching to see how it develops. If it is getting adequate sunlight, moisture and nutrients, the new growth should be thick and stout. Be sure to prune your rose down hard next winter (Jan-Feb) so that when new growth begins in the spring it will be from mature canes. Prune by selecting the most vigorous 3-5 canes and pruning them back to about 18" from the ground. Remove everything else except these vigorous canes. In the spring new growth will develop which should be thick and able to support lots of flowering stems.

Best wishes with your roses!

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