The Q&A Archives: Suckers On Austin Rose

Question: My Austin rose has sent out suckers that are awful. The original rose is a Brother Cadfael and I loved it but the suckers are a different color, size and shape altogether. I called Jackson & Perkins (where it was purchased) and was told that this problem happens when it's been unusually cold. In southern California I find it hard to believe that would be the problem. The woman I talked to said that there was nothing I could do. I truly liked the rose and it wasn't inexpensive so I'd like to save it if I can. Can you give me any advice on how to do it?

Answer: Most hybrid roses are grafted or budded onto a vigorous rootstock. As long as a hard freeze doesn't kill the rose bush down past the graft, the top should remain vigorous, with the flower type and color you originally selected. Sometimes suckers grow from below the graft, and they can take over if not pruned down. Locate the graft union on the stem of your rose and cut off any canes that are growing from below the graft. This will allow growth of the more desirable canes. If all of the canes originate from below the graft, then the top of your expensive rose has died back and you're left with only the vigorous root stock. Unusually cold weather can cause dieback, as well as a few diseases. Good luck with your Austin rose!

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