Sucker from rootstock can be cut from Austrian rose

I have an Austrian copper rose bush and this year a long branch came out from it that is red, like a Paul scarlet climber. Is it possible that this was a grafted rose and this was its original rose? This is not a complaint; it is very pretty. Please let me know what you think happened.

— Lorraine

Austrian copper roses, unlike most all the other “species” type roses are always grafted. Most other roses are grown on their own roots to help improve their hardiness, but Austrian copper has the bad habit of suckering terribly if grown on its own root. Given good soil and adequate water, it will form an impenetrable bramble as big as your yard. I’m sure what you’re seeing is a sucker from the rootstock coming up. I’d recommend cutting it off because that rootstock rose can get a bit wild, out of control, out-compete your Austrian copper and crowd it out.

After the petals of my roses fell off, the bottom part became like a small marble. Can I cut this and plant it? Will this round thing grow to be another rose plant?

— Chua

Sounds to me that what you’re seeing is the seed capsule of the plant, called a rose hip. They can vary in size depending on the species and variety of rose.

If it is a hip, you can cut it open and there will be some seeds. If this is the only one on your plant, don’t cut it yet; it really should be left on the plant until it starts to turn brown and dry up a bit so the seeds inside can fully mature.

Once that’s happened, plant the seeds either in some pots or out in your garden, but make sure that the seeds are outdoors over the winter. Rose seeds need to go through a period of cold weather in order for them to germinate reliably.

There’s a chance that what you’re seeing is not a rose hip but simply the base of the flower, called the receptacle. It’s usually not spherical but a round, flattened disc. This won’t do anything except dry up and decompose.


My roses are going rogue on me. Small branches with small leaves are coming up from the base of the plant. I keep cutting them off at the ground, but wonder if that isn’t diminishing the flowering ability and health of the original graft.

— Ole

Those small starts are rootstock suckers. Most roses are grafted plants, meaning they’re two different plants grafted together. It’s usually a scion, which is the hybrid type rose you want, and a rootstock that lends the plant improved vigor, growth and flowering.

Occasionally, that rootstock will sucker up from the ground. We’re seeing more this year as it was so cold last winter.

Suckers don’t make a good rose; they’re long and lanky and they will sap strength and vigor from the scion and eventually choke it out completely. This type of rose usually only blooms once in the spring and has semi-double deep orange-red flowers. They often will develop alternate blooming characteristics; that is, they will bloom heavily one year and then very little, if any, the next.

The only way to deal with suckers is to prune them. Rootstock suckers arise at the base or out of the soil immediately around the plant. Cut them off as completely as you can. Don’t leave a stub because that will just sprout again. You may have to dig into the soil a bit to cut it off as low as you can, even underground.

The plant will often send up some more suckers after you’ve done this. Be persistent. If you’re good about cutting them out and keeping them cut out, the plant will eventually give up suckering.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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