Leafless Rose Stems

by Garth
(Chattanooga,TN)

QUESTION:
I have five big knockout roses that I transplanted about two months ago (about May first). I trimmed them back before moving, and watered them like mad, both before and after. Unfortunately, they are now almost entirely just stems, with the leaves all withered and largely fallen off. Some of the stems are brown and dry,and I am ready to prune them off.
About half of the stems are either green or a mottled green -brown combination. My question is: have I killed them? Is it time to just yank them, shed my tears, and move on. Or, could they survive in a dormant state with just 'stem-potosynthesis' thought August, Septemeber, and the winter, and then come back to life in the spring. I am so mad at myself for not having waited until they were winter-dormant. I am afraid that I have killed my beloved knockouts. Please advise. Garth

ANSWER:

Hi Garth,
Sorry to hear about your rose problem. The problem is you moved them when they where actively growing and the Knockouts suffered transplant shock.
Also when you dug them up, they most likely lost many feeder roots.
Without sufficient feeder roots, they are not able to take up nutrients and water from the soil, no matter how much you water.
The result is they lost foilage and the foilage that's there is turning brown (no water).
So this is what you should do now:
Prune off dead canes, and prune down to live wood. The pith should be withish inside when the canes are alive.
Add half a cup of Epson Salts and scratch it into the soil.
Deep water so the epson salt reaches the root area.
The main ingredient in epson salt is magnesium sulfate which is very beneficial for plant growth.
Do not provide any fertilizer until you see new growth emerging. Yes I do think they will recover from the transplant shock, because you have some live green canes. Keep praying.
Keep in mind, the Knockout roses have to grow below, before they can grow above.
The rose bushes will spend most of their energy growing new feeder roots, before you will see any new foilage.
So be patient now and keep them moist. Check for progress daily, and protect the new foilage from aphids, by blasting them off with water, if you see any.
Here is my page about transplanting roses.
Happy Day
... Annelie

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