Roses forum: Is this rose bush dead/how to prune

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Goshen, NY
Apr 17, 2019 12:21 PM CST
Hello, we've just moved into our first home and we've never really had to garden before so I'm hoping for some advice. I've included pictures of what I think is a very overgrown rose bush. I have no idea if it is completely dead and if not, how to go about pruning this giant monster of a plant. I'm not sure if a photo can help identify if the plant is dead. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Apr 17, 2019 1:37 PM CST

I think I see some life in there but its hard to tell looking at a photo. The live rose canes are bright green. The yellow green, brown and black ones are dead.

Start by removing everything dead then cut whatever you have left at about 18 inches.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Goshen, NY
Apr 17, 2019 3:22 PM CST
Thank you! From what I can tell, all the branches that are part of the plant are brown from head to toe. The little bit of green in the photo is actually a twirly vine that looks like it just intermingled. None of thof canes have a gradient where they go from green to brown.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 17, 2019 4:22 PM CST
Cut into the "dead" canes. They may be green inside.
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Apr 17, 2019 6:25 PM CST
I need to type this up and save it because I've posted it many times.

Start at the top of one cane. Snip off a small piece a few inches long and look at the center of the cane. If it is a greenish white and looks moist it is alive. No matter what the bark on the outside looks like. Some rose canes mature to a brown or gray bark on the outside but are still alive. If the center is tan or brown and looks dried out it is dead cane. Continue to clip off small pieces down the cane until you find that greenish white, moist center. From there down the cane is alive. If you get down to the crown or soil line just clip it off as close to the surface as you can. If you are clipping near the crown be careful to not damage the crown itself. Take each individual cane and repeat this process until you have cut out all the dead wood. Once you've cleaned that up step back and look at the shape of the rose to determine if you need to prune off any live wood to shape the rose the way you want it. Don't be afraid to take off some live cane. It will grow back. Pruning a rose always stimulates new growth. Clean out any weeds or grass growing around the base of the rose to about a good foot away. Give it some fertilizer (according to package directions) and keep it watered. It should grow and bloom beautifully for you!
[Last edited by seilMI - Apr 17, 2019 6:28 PM (+)]
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Goshen, NY
Apr 17, 2019 7:06 PM CST
Thank you so much seilMI for such a thorough and informative response! This is perfect. I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you!
Coastal Southern California (Zone 13a)
Apr 17, 2019 7:07 PM CST
You should, Seil. Those of us in warm climates just don't have the knowledge to help with this.
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Apr 17, 2019 8:29 PM CST
Thanks, Jeri!

You're welcome, Dragonfly. Something I should add to this is that you always want to make your last cut about a quarter inch above an outward facing leaf node ( the reddish bumps on the sides of the canes) and make it at about a 45 degree angle so that water will run off and not puddle on top. Some people will seal the ends of any canes thicker than a pencil. You can use Elmer's Wood Glue or rubber cement (it has to be water resistant glue) or nail polish. You can buy a rose cane sealant but it's pricey and glue or polish works just as well. There is an insect called a cane borer that likes to eat down through the centers of the canes. I have never seen one in my garden (knock wood) so I don't do it any more.

Hope that helps and please remember the number one rule: Take time to ENJOY your roses!

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