Caring for Rose Trees

“HELP!  My rose tree doesn’t look right.  I used a compost in the soil.  Also rose fertilzer spikes.  Prune in the spring to keep a ball shape.  Don’t know what else to do.  ~ P. in Iowa”


Dear P. in Iowa,

Thank you for the email, but I guess I don’t know how to answer this one.  What types of symptoms is your rose tree having?

Without a little more information, it is rather hard to give you much information.  However, let me start with some basic rose tree care information and we can then go from there.

Rose trees, also known as Rose Standards, differ from rose plants or rose shrubs in that they are actually cultivated to resemble a tree. A rose tree consists of a long, slender cane, 32 – 36 inches (about 1 meter) in length, void of any foliage from which an abundance of rose flowers literally burst forth. The ‘tree’ is created by making two grafts: one at the top of the central cane to support the hybrid tee, grandiflora or floribunda and one at the bottom, at the rootstock.

(Note:  Miniature roses are created in a similar manner, the difference being that the central cane measures only approximately 24 inches. Whether regular-sized or miniature, the end result is a unique rose that has the shape of a lollipop.)

To endure the weight of the grafted rose on top, the central cane usually must be staked. Extra care must be taken in areas prone to wind, where staking is especially important. Another problem with rose trees, besides the usual pests and diseases that plague all roses, is the sun. The cane part of the tree rose is especially susceptible to sun scald.

During the winter months it’s difficult to protect rose trees from the cold. With regular roses, all that’s required to prepare for winter is a layer of mulch around the base. But with the rose tree, to be protected from the cold, mulch must be placed all the way up the cane. The only way to accomplish this is either by relocating the rose tree during the winter, or by engineering a container made from wire mesh to surround the cane that can be filled with mulch.

Besides the seasonal rose tree care, growers have to diligently prune rose trees to achieve the right look. The central cane should never be pruned, only the flowering top part. How you prune will depend on the type of rose that sits atop the cane so know the right way before beginning. Improperly pruned roses, regardless of type, are more prone to diseases. And with the rose tree, it can cause an uneven distribution of weight that could break the stems.

For more information on Rose Tree Suckers, please click here to see a previous post I wrote.

As for diseases, those that are found on rose trees are the same as are found on rose bushes.  For a great diagnostic website, please check out the University of Minnesota Extension’s website.

Even though Rose Trees require more love and care, the attention they’ll get when they’re established and in full bloom is well worth the effort. They’ll add height to your garden and bursts of vibrant color throughout your landscape.



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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