Roses forum→Revisiting the exhausted Mr. Lincoln

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Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Mar 21, 2021 3:40 PM CST
Thumb of 2021-03-21/BigAppleRoseGuy/87f444
Last summer I asked the esteemed rosarians on this list
whether I should shovel prune this 20-year-old Mr. Lincoln or
try to resuscitate him. It was almost unanimous that I should
try to breathe some life in him, but to wait for pruning time.

It's pruning time. He looks just as old and tired as he was then.
I will cut back most of the green-ish shoots and whack the
suckers, but I'm wondering how far down I should cut that
main "trunk". Does having a bit of the original plant sticking
up help or hinder. Does the plant need it or does just make
the bush more susceptible to disease and little borers? Also, is
my inclination to cut the suckers wise? I'm thinking that they
might be more Dr. Huey than Mr. Lincoln.

I started pruning at the other end of the garden so that I could
think some more about Mr. Lincoln. However, now it's time.
Does anyone have any thoughts?

This was literally the first bush that I put into this garden 20 years ago
this Spring. It was just a crummy side section of this 150-year-old
park next to the west side piers. Now the garden is 150 feet long
and has 40 some roses and lots of other nice stuff in it.
Happy Spring. David

Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Plant Identifier Raises cows Roses Farmer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Mar 21, 2021 4:02 PM CST
I would not cut the "suckers" yet. If they are Mr Lincoln, it could be a sign of recovery.
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Roses Garden Photography Region: Michigan
Mar 21, 2021 5:20 PM CST
What Porkpal said. You don't know those are suckers for sure. You could be whacking off just what you're trying to get, new canes!
Name: Ken Wilkinson
N.E. GA. (Cornelia) (Zone 7b)
Frugal Gardener Butterflies Bulbs Birds Bee Lover Cat Lover
Dragonflies Hummingbirder Roses Region: Georgia Daylilies
Mar 21, 2021 6:47 PM CST
Like others have said, leave the suckers alone until you know for sure what they are. As for the pruning, low cut.
It's a rose!!! It has nothing to do with life and death.
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Mar 21, 2021 8:31 PM CST
Sure am glad I didn't cut the suckers yet. If suckers they be.
Santa Barbara, CA (Zone 9b)
Mar 21, 2021 9:47 PM CST
Holy cow, I'd cut it down to a foot, but I would have done that many many years ago. Mister Lincoln should not be 12 feet high (hard to tell from the pics). Couldn't tell from the pics what the "suckers" are, but fine if everyone else thinks they might be new basals on a 20 year old HT (seems unlikely). Can you still see the original bud union? Where are the "suckers" coming from? Honestly, I'd let it go and plant a new one. Call me Little Miss Ruthless.
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Mar 22, 2021 3:12 PM CST
Well, this is interesting. I did a little digging and took couple more pictures.

Photo #1 Thumb of 2021-03-22/BigAppleRoseGuy/f2fa26

It looks as though the two shoots going off the the left (southwest) in Photo #1
are below the graft line. Is that right? It may even be that the other,
rather old, section behind the main plant with the bark is a old sucker too.
Does that seem right to you?

Photo #2 Thumb of 2021-03-22/BigAppleRoseGuy/3edb3f

Photo #2 is the back side of Photo #1. As you can see, there are many
years of various levels of growth.

I'm inclined to cut the suckers off (if you agree that they are suckers)
and chop everything else to 12 inches. However, there are a lot of
rosarians on the list that know a whole lot more than I do.

Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Roses Garden Photography Region: Michigan
Mar 22, 2021 5:31 PM CST
I would leave the suckers alone. The best way to know for sure what they are is to let them grow. IF they bloom THIS year they are NOT suckers. If they do not set any blooms this year they are probably root stock. When you know that for sure you can remove them. But just cutting them will not do the trick. You must dig down to where they come off the roots and TEAR them off so that you damage the growth node so it will not just grow right back again.

Otherwise, the old guy doesn't look to bad. He's showing a lot of new growth up at the top. That's good. If it were me I'd just take out any dead wood and leave the rest but you can prune him to whatever height you like. He will grow back!
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Mar 22, 2021 8:35 PM CST
As I can see from the exposed nether parts, if it is a sucker, the place to do the damage is obvious.

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