Q. My roses died back to the ground. They now are sprouting from the roots. Will they be OK this year? Should I prune them all the way to the ground?
Joe from Boardman
A. My first question to Joe was, “What kind of rose is it?” Joe responded that it was a knockout rose. That made it easy. Knockout roses are grown on their own root stock. Thus, although many of them died back to the ground during this past winter here in the Valley, they will come back true to form. We won’t see the earliest June blooms of years past, but the roses will grow and bloom. Yes, the old canes can be pruned down to the ground.
But, those of you growing hybrid tea roses and some other varieties will not see the same rose grow this year. If you see a “knob” or graft union a couple inches above the soil, you’ll know you have a grafted rose. Thus, the canes emerging from below this union are not the rose you purchased. You can let them grow, but they will not be the same as the rose you planted. Most likely, you will not want that rose in your garden. Thus, it’s time to think of a new rose.
There are many new rose varieties which grow on their own roots and will survive our winters with no problem. But, like Joe noticed in his garden, they die back to the ground during these severe winters we have every few years. Thus, even these roses need some winter protection if you still want the earliest blooms. When you learn the temperatures are going to be unusually low, consider winter protection (http://go.osu.edu/roseprotection).
If you want to learn more about old- fashioned rose types, consider making the drive to our research station in Wooster for the Garden of Roses of Legend and Romance. There are 500 varieties of old-fashioned roses with many original plants aged 40 years. They are open seven days a week, from half an hour before dawn to half an hour after dusk. http://go.osu.edu/ohiostateroses
Eric Barrett is OSU Ext. educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hotline at 330-533-5538 from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays to submit your questions.