Tag: shrubs

Reasons Why Your Rose Isn’t Blooming

I have beautiful rose bushes but no roses, the bushes have no bugs or spots that look like disease. Why don’t I have any roses?

I can think of 4 reasons why your rose may not bloom: winterkill, improper pruning, lack of sunlight, or a reversion to the understock.

Winterkill – If you live in a region where winters are severe and your roses are not given proper protection they could die back to the root. In such a case the plant may be not able to return the following growing season with enough vigor to produce roses.

Improper Pruning – Old-fashioned roses should be pruned with a light hand. Severe pruning or waiting too late in spring can diminish bloom production. This is especially true of roses that flower once each growing season, such as Damasks and Mosses. These types should be pruned in the summer after they have flowered.

Lack of Sunlight – For good bloom production roses need at least 6 hours of sunlight. Now there are varieties that will flower in partial shade to light shade. I’ve had luck with ‘Gruss an Aachen’, ‘White Meidiland’ and ‘Marie Pavie’.

Reversion to Understock – Some roses are grafted while others are grown on their own root stock. A grafted rose is created by attaching a bud of the desired variety onto to a more vigorous root stock. The problem arises if the root stock starts putting out growth and overpowers the grafted on variety. This growth can be very healthy and yet not produce any blooms or if you do get roses they can be an unexpected color. Such was the case with a ‘White Dawn’ I had planted in my garden that suddenly started blooming red.

Pruning Climbing Roses

I planted two climbing roses last summer, and not sure if I should cut them back, and if so when? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Climbing roses are a great way to accent your garden. To keep them in tip-top shape I prune my climbing roses once a year. This helps stimulate lots of new growth, which makes them produce larger flowers and a lot more of them. Plus, a good pruning helps them to keep their shape.

In most regions of the country mid to late February is the ideal time to shape up your plants, even if you live in a mild area where roses never go dormant. If you live in a cold climate, pruning should be done when you remove winter protection and the danger of a hard freeze has passed, which may be as late as April in very cold zones. Once blooming roses should not be pruned until after they flower.

To prune a climbing rose all you’ll need is a good pair of sharp pruners and some gloves.

When I prune, I always take out all dead and diseased wood, then I take out any stems that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil. When I make each cut, I try to make them as clean as possible and about a quarter of an inch above a bud. It’s important to know that the position of the bud on the stem is the direction the new growth will head once it’s starts growing, so I always try to cut just above a bud that’s going to grow up and over the arbor.

What are the Best Climbing Old-Fashioned Roses?

I need an antique climber that is a repeat bloomer, of any color, fragrant and one that preferably blooms in clusters. However, although we live in Zone 6B, we are on a high hill and have a slightly colder "microclimate." Which rose do you suggest?

Old-fashioned roses are one of my favorite subjects. Their beauty and ease of care make them ideal for any garden.

Climbing old-fashioned roses are excellent accents for growing over entry arbors, around doorframes and across fences. I have a friend who has trained climbing ‘New Dawn’ around her kitchen window. The pale pink, fragrant flowers appear continuously from spring through fall framing her view out into the garden. The effect is enchanting. Whenever I am there I half expect to see Snow White smiling at me through the open window.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite old-fashioned climbing roses. One of these is sure to suit your garden needs.

  • Climbing ‘Cecile Brunner’- 1894, Polyantha
    This delightful rose bears pale pink clusters of blooms throughout the growing season. Grows 20 – 30 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 6 – 9.
  • Climbing ‘Clotilde Soupert’ – 1902, Polyantha
    White clusters of blooms adorn this garden beauty from spring until late fall in my garden. Grows 12 – 15 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 6 – 9.
  • Yellow ‘Lady Banks’ – 1807, Species
    This rose only blooms once but what a display! Cascades of tightly clustered yellow blooms cover the plant for as long as 6 weeks and perfume the air with a sweet violet scent. The canes are nearly thornless, which makes this a perfect rose for accenting an entryway. The only downside to this rose is that it is susceptible to temperatures below 15 degrees F. Grows 12 – 20 feet. Fragrant. Deer resistant. Hardiness zones: 8 – 9.
  • ‘Lamarque’ – 1830, Noisette
    This is one of my favorite climbing roses, so I had to include it on the list. However, it is only cold hardy to zone 7 so it might not be suitable for a zone 6 garden. I have this rose planted so that it grows up and over the door to my chicken house. It blooms repeatedly throughout the summer and often as late as December. The large flowers are fully double, creamy white. Grows 12 – 20 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 7 -9.
  • ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ – 1879, Noisette
    The hefty blooms of this rose are highly fragrant, making it a favorite for planting over an entry arbor. The continuously blooming flowers open a pale pink and fade to cream. The canes produce a minimal amount of thorns – always plus when selecting roses for training to grow up arbors and trellises. Grows 15 – 20 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 6 – 9.
  • ‘New Dawn’ – 1930, Large Flowering Climber
    Although not a true old-fashioned rose, my list would not be complete without ‘New Dawn’. I have this rose planted in several locations in my garden. Requiring little effort on my part, this rose rewards me throughout the growing season with large, pale pink blooms and lustrous, dark green foliage. Grows 12 – 20 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 5 – 9.
  • Climbing ‘Old Blush’ – Unknown Date, China
    I have ‘Old Blush’ situated along the front fence in my garden. The lilac pink blooms blend nicely with the maroon barberry and violet roses of my ‘Russell’s Cottage’ planted nearby. The flowers form in loose clusters and are produced with such abandon that they fade quickly to make room for more. Grows 12- 20 feet. Fragrant. Hardiness zones: 7 – 9.
  • Climbing ‘The Fairy’ – Unknown Date, Polyantha
    As the name implies, ‘The Fairy’ is dainty in stature but robust in bloom. Petite, deep pink blooms cover this rose in tight clusters from spring through fall. Grows 8 – 12 feet. Not fragrant. Hardiness zones: 5 – 9.

Transplanting Knock Out® Roses

Much like the interiors of our homes, our gardens sometimes need a little rearranging. Perhaps the color combination is wrong, a plant isn’t happy in its current
location or you just want to make a change. Moving established plants takes elbow grease and planning, but there’s really nothing to it. This is especially true
of Knock Out® roses. More vigorous than some other roses, there is little to fear when transplanting this shrub.

When to Move Knock Out® Roses

The best time to move a rose is in late winter or early spring while the plant is dormant.

Prepare the Planting Hole First

Dig the hole twice as big as it needs to be to fit the root ball. This will give you room to spread out the roots and add soil amendments to the bottom of the hole.
If your root ball is 18 inches, make the hole 24-inches wide. Ditto on the depth.

The Double Pink Knock Out Rose

Digging Up

When moving any plant, always try to keep as much of the root system as you can. Use a sharp, narrow shovel to cut around the perimeter of the shrub and remove as
much of the root ball as possible. Often the soil may fall away from the roots, but that is okay. The plant will be fine.

It is handy to have a piece of burlap around to use as a sling to transport the rose to its new location.


Make a pile in the bottom of the planting hole with a 50:50 mix of garden soil and compost. Place the rose on the pile and spread out the roots. Make sure that the
soil level is the same that it was in the previous location. Planting too deep can actually kill many plants.

Back fill the planting hole with the soil and compost mix. Spread an organic, all-purpose fertilizer around the base of the rose. The package will indicate the proper
amount. Water in and add more soil if needed. Top with mulch, making sure to keep the mulch away from the base of the shrub.

Caring for Your Newly Transplanted Rose

Once the rose is in its new location, it needs to be pruned back about 50 percent.

Summer Rose Care

The peak of rose bloom in my garden occurs around the last week of April.  I consider this an unofficial farewell to spring and the beginning of summer.  I say good bye to peonies, iris and pansies and hello to daylilies, hydrangeas and of course, more roses.  With the exception of one or two, the roses in my garden are repeat bloomers and will continue to throw out flowers until the first hard freeze in fall.

 I’m a rose fanatic and have planted them extensively in my garden.  While most of the varieties are fairly carefree I do have a summer regimen that I follow to keep them in tiptop shape.

I give my roses a healthy dose of fertilizer in the early spring to fortify them for their first flush of bloom. I simply use a fertilizer high in phosphorous, which is the middle number on the package. After the first wave of flowers fade I hit them with a second application of fertilizer formulated especially for roses. This will re-energize the plants and promote more roses for those that are repeat bloomers. Through the summer I continue to feed my repeat blooming roses after each bloom cycle.

Black Spot and Powdery Mildew
The biggest headache when growing roses is blackspot and powdery mildew. 

Blackspot – As the name implies it starts with a black spot on the leaf. It’s a fungus that certainly diminishes the look of the plant. Now I’ve never had a rose bush actually die from blackspot, but it can certainly cut down on their performance and make the shrubs look pretty shabby.

Blackspot is usually brought on by weather conditions. Sporadic rain followed by humid to hot conditions is the ideal breeding ground for this fungus. The rain soaks the plant, and then the weather heats up and causes the fungus to form on the damp leaves and petals.

If the problem becomes severe, use a commercial fungicide for blackspot and always try to get the plant completely saturated from top to bottom with the spray. Some serious cases of blackspot require several treatments before the fungus is completely annihilated. You should also spray the ground around your roses and put any diseased leaves in your trash, not in your compost.

Powdery Mildew – Powdery mildew is another fungus that reveals itself as a powder-like coating over the leaves.

Rarely will it kill a plant, but some perennials like phlox and shrubs such as lilacs, crape myrtles and roses can be damaged. A heavy infestation of powdery mildew can cause a plant to lose its leaves diminishing its vigor and causing it to not flower quite as much.

If you’re having this problem in your garden there are two approaches you should try in bringing the problem under control. The first is prevention. Remove and dispose of infected plants and leaves by burning them or put them in the garbage to help cut down on the spread. Don’t put infected leaves in your compost because you will just harbor spores for another round next season.

The second line of defense is to take action by spraying. But before using a conventional fungicide, try some of the new safer alternatives. I use a sulfur-based product. Since it’s not a synthetic fungicide, I don’t have to worry about it damaging the environment. Spray your roses about every 7 to 10 days when mildew is a problem.

One home remedy that some people have found useful as a preventative to powdery mildew is using this formula:
1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of summer oil
1/2 teaspoon of insecticidal soap or dishwashing soap
1 gallon of water

It’s important that a plant is well hydrated before applying this solution. Water deeply a couple of days before spraying and don’t spray during the heat of the day.

Black Spot Resistant Roses in My Garden
‘Marie Pavie’
‘The Fairy’
‘Caldwell Pink’
‘New Dawn’
‘White Dawn’
‘Marchesa Boccella’
‘Russell’s Cottage’
‘Katharina Zeimet’

Allen Dead Heading Roses
The time to do any hard pruning of roses is the late winter or early spring before the leaf buds open.  But don’t panic, if you didn’t get to cutting back your plants this year. Your plants will not suffer and once the blooms have faded at the end of spring you will have the opportunity to do some light pruning. Not only will this be a chance to reshape and clean up your plants, but with many of the repeat blooming varieties, it will encourage a second round of flower production.

It’s important to realize that not all roses rebloom. Some old-fashioned shrubs types only bloom once in the spring. Cutting the old flowers away on these types will just help the plant look a little better. But for those that rebloom like my favorite ‘New Dawn’ as well as any of the floribundas, polyanthas and popular hybrid tea roses, removing what is left of dead flowers will definitely encourage the next wave of bloom.  When you do this it’s important to remove them with sharp pruners, making the cut just above a leaf with five leaflets. By cutting here, when the new bud forms, the stem will be large and strong enough to support it. Another thing I do after I’ve pruned my roses is feed them with a high phosphorus liquid fertilizer.



I have a very special rhododendron in my shade garden. I received it from a friend who has a particularly green thumb when it comes to rhodies. It’s a hybrid that he developed and its hardy nature is one of the characteristics that makes it so exceptional.

Rhododendrons are quite temperamental. They like climates that have moist air and mild temperatures in both summer and winter. My garden is extremely hot in summer and can get quite cold in winter, but this rhododendron has thrived. Over the past 15 years it has grown into a stunning 5 foot tall shrub and this spring it is covered with pale pink blooms.

If you are lucky enough to live in a climate that is suitable for growing rhododendrons here are a few tips to help keep them happy and loaded with blooms.

RhododendronMost rhododendrons prefer light shade or full morning exposure with protection from intense afternoon sun. Dense shade will cause the flowers to be sparse.

Rhododendrons need acidic, but well-drained soils. They also like for their soils to be consistently moist. But, be careful, too much moisture around their feet can cause the roots to rot. Also, make sure the soil is loose and full of rich organic matter, like compost or peat moss for all those tiny, fibrous roots.

Feed rhododendrons soon after they finish flowering using a blend designed for azaleas and rhododendrons. This will help the plants set plenty of buds for next year.

To further promote heavy bloom next year, remove the spent flowers. To do this, just break off the faded flower at the base just above the buds. Depending on the size plant you’re working with, this job can take a little time, but it will be worth it.

If you are considering adding a rhododendron to your garden check out the mature height of the variety you choose before you plant it. Some varieties are monsters growing to eight feet or taller. So think about that before you plant them because this is a shrub that looks best when allowed to grow unchecked.

Good to Know: Cold Tolerant Rhodies

  • ‘Mrs. Chas. S. Sargent’ – Deep Rose
  • Everestianum – Magenta with Green Spots
  • Atrosanguineum – Red with Purple Spots
  • ‘Purple Splendor’ – Violet with Purple
  • ‘Nova Zembla’ – Red, both cold and heat tolerant

Pruning Butterfly Bushes

I need some pruning help. I know the butterfly bush is supposed to be pruned, but I don’t know if I can do it now or if I should wait until spring. I also don’t know the best technique.

Butterfly bush, or buddleia, performs best when cut back hard in the late winter or very early spring before new growth begins. I usually do this at the same time that I prune my roses, which in my Zone 7 garden is late February or early March.

Prune your buddleia down to about 6-inches from the ground to maintain a compact form and for prolific bloom production. There are also a couple of other techniques you might want to try. Pinch back new growth a couple of times before the end of spring and as summer progresses, remove the spent flowers to promote more flowers in the fall.


I would like to find out something about a bush called elaeagnus. Can you tell me about it?

Elaeagnus is one of my favorite evergreen shrubs. I have a privacy hedge of Elaeagnus pungens planted along my south property line. If allowed, this shrub can grow quite large and it keeps its leaves year round, so it is perfect for creating living walls for enclosures.

During the fall Elaeagnus pungens produce tiny bell shaped flowers that perfume the air with a sweet fragrance. These blooms are followed by small brown fruits that ripen to red. The leathery leaves are gray-green on top and silver underneath. The stems of new growth are whip-like with a wonderful cinnamon brown bark. I like to cut these to use in arrangements with other flowers. They also make an impressive statement when the stems are cut long and placed solo in a large vase or urn.

Elaeagnus pungens is a tender shrub that is only cold hardy from zone 7 – 9. It is heat tolerant in AHS heat zones 9 – 4. It thrives in full sun to partial shade, well drained, fertile soil. It is known to be drought tolerant and forgiving of coastal winds. Depending on the variety, you can expect this shrub to reach a maximum height of 15 feet.


I have a gardenia bush that I received when my mother passed away. I have been keeping it in the house under a grow light but the leaves are falling off. Is possible to plant it now before the weather gets cooler?

Gardenias are only cold hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether you plant it outdoors or not depends on your winter temperatures. If you do plant outdoors, place it in a protected area that gets full sun to part shade.

Gardenias thrive in consistently moist, well-drained soil. Feed the plant in the spring before new growth starts using an all-purpose fertilizer.

As you have found, as houseplants gardenias can be temperamental. They require high humidity, consistent moisture, full sun and warm but not too hot temperatures. And they can be quite cantankerous even if you get the conditions right.

To help with the humidity set the pots in a tray of gravel and add water to the tray. As the water evaporates it will humidify the air. Avoid misting the leaves as this encourages fungus. Gardenias thrive on 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures in the day, and 60 degrees Fahrenheit evening temperatures.

If you move your potted gardenia outdoors for the summer, place it in an area where it will get afternoon shade and be sure to bring it back indoors before temperatures start getting too cool in the fall. Fertilize monthly with an acidic fertilizer. Gardenias are susceptible to insect problems so check often for signs of insects.