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My Climber Won’t Flower

When newly planted, climbing roses either flower or send up large climbing canes.
If your rose is not flowering but has lots of large climbing canes, you have to wait until next spring for a mass of flowers along these canes.
Do not prune these canes as this is the main framework of the plant and where the majority of the flowers come from.

When do I cut back a rose to have it flower at a certain time?

It takes roughly 58 days from cut back to next flowering although this can vary with temperature and variety.
Trim the rose in stages over the period of 55 days to 60 to virtually assure the rose will be in some flower when wanted.

I was told to remove some soil with a rose removed, is this correct?

Although it is not known why, a rose will struggle if planted back into the same soil as a rose just removed. Options are to wait 12 months before replanting in the same region, fumigate the soil (very expensive) or change over the soil (easiest). Remove 2 buckets of soil (300mm cube) and replace with soil from elsewhere in the garden. Old soil can be used elsewhere in the garden.

Does it help to plant a new rose in a cardboard box where an old rose was?

Some experts have recommended this but there is no evidence to suggest this will help in any way as the box will break down in a matter of days and allow root to enter surrounding soil without delay. My opinion is the box gives you a clue on how much soil must be removed and replaced.

What are the silver insects under the leaves?

Most probably any silver insects located under leaves (if the look like aphids) are the ‘mummy’ of the parasidic rose wasp, Rosea Aphidius, who lay their eggs inside aphids and kill the aphid through this means. Do not spray with any insecticide as having a predatory wasp in the garden can eliminate the need to spray with chemicals.

Can I get rid of aphids without spraying?

You can certainly wait for natural predators to control aphids but as it takes time for natural predators to build up their numbers you can use several other short term options. Use pest oil, soapy water (velvet soap sloshed in a bucket of water) or ‘hose off’ small infestations (water restriction permitted).

Why have modern roses not got strong fragrance?

Some modern roses do have exceptional fragrance such as Thank you, Deane Ross, Lady Phelia and many Austins yet breeders today want heavy flowering and high health and dedicate much of their breeding for these factors. If fragrance is your major factor many of the older varieties have exceptional scent such as Just Joey, Double Delight, Fragrant Cloud or Oklahoma.

I heard money is paid overseas on all new roses, is this correct?

This is partly correct and partly not. Most roses introduced come from overseas and a royalty is paid overseas to the breeder for a period of time which may be up to 20 years. If you are a proud Australian and concerned with money leaving Australia you can purchase older varieties or any of the Australian bred roses.

How do I get me David Austin roses to grow lower and flower more?

Many newer Austin varieties can grow excessive sizes and unless the correct conditions are found will not flower well over Summer and into Autumn. A lot of older Austin roses are more compact and do flower well throughout the year. Sophies Rose is one I have noticed to perform well in Summer and Autumn. Do not prune Austin rose too hard in winter as this will also help with flowering.

I have heard Austins can be used as climbers.

The definition of a climber does not fit with Austin roses even though many are bred from climbers. A climber should have a limited number of base canes which can be spread over a structure. Austins have many basal shoots and are more large shrubs than climbers. If you would like to use them as a climber be prepared for a multitude of shoots coming from the base.

I have heard you can prune with a chain saw?

Several years ago we conducted trials involving rough pruning roses with saws. In our trials we performed a rough prune on 1 row and a traditional prune on the other row. For 8 years this trial was conducted. Our conclusion is a rough prune can be made on many ‘landscape’ varieties with floribunda’s and shrubs also flowering well with rough treatment. However, Hybrid Teas did not like this treatment too much and although flowering was better there was too much dead growth and shorter stems to recommend this as a good practice. My recommendation would be to certainly rough prune for a number of years but perform a traditional prune every 3-4 years to clean out the bush and extend it productive life.

I was told Milk will get rid of Black Spot and other fungal problems?

Milk will kill fungal infections that are on the surface of the leaf such as Mildew and Rust, but as Black Spot is located inside the leaf it is not controlled with milk. It is possible to reduce the chance of Black Spot on roses with a preventative milk spray, but if rain falls more spray need to be applied.

Is there a Blue Rose?

No, not yet. Unless a major breakthrough occurs in genetic engineering we will not see a true blue rose. Suntori in Japan has produced a ‘Blue Rose’ though their work but it is still a Mauve colour and not what we call blue. No doubt it will come one day and probably in our lifetime. As a breeder of roses I am interested to see what new colours can be created using a true blue rose more than having a blue rose as such.

What is the most popular rose in Australia?

Very hard question to answer indeed. Each year new roses come and go and popularities change depending on garden designs and marketing. Also each nursery grows different varieties and promoted their own differently. In general we state any rose selling better than Iceberg is a good selling rose. For Ross Roses our top 10 are fairly stable although the order does change each year. For 2007 they are: Crown Princess Mary, Just Brilliant, Mawson, Deane Ross, Flemington, Double Delight, Pierre de Ronsard, Just Joey, Bonica and Amazing Grace.

Can I keep a rose bush lower than it is growing?

Roses when bred grow to a specific size. The breeders identify the size the plant grows and this information is usually provided on the label of the plant purchased. In many cases the roses are bred overseas and when they grow here in Australia we can find they may grow as much as double the size experienced overseas. It is possible to slightly reduce the size the plant grows here in our gardens but mostly if it grows 2m tall it will stay a tall variety. Selection of specific varieties is important if size is important.

Can I make my own rose?

It is not hard to breed your own roses. Look at our section on breeding and follow the step by step images on how it is done. First step could be to collect seed pods in winter and plant in potting mix. This will get you started with the processes needed for seed germination prior to performing your own crosses. Australia has a rose breeders association with a contact number also in the breeding section.

I see on the internet there are several names for the same rose. Why?

Marketing. Most breeders or introducers market their varieties with a name that will suit a particular country. Jacqueline Nabout was considered not as popular in Australia so City of Adelaide was chosen. In any case most introduced roses have an international code which goes with the rose in every country. My example has an international code of MEIchoiju. Look at if you would like to find other names of specific rose varieties.

Will roses grow in the tropics?

Roses will grow in most areas but tropical areas are a challenge. From information we have been given grow roses in raised beds gives better draining and stops wet feet. Selection of varieties is important as roses in yellow and apricot colours do have more health problems. It has been noted that roses with high fragrance do get more Mildew problems. We have been advised roses in the Tea, Hybrid Musk, Rugosa and China families can be successful. Consult your local Rose Society or talk to locals who grow roses to find best selections. Our web site will list recommendations for tropical areas.