Pruning rose bush that has reverted

Asked March 13, 2020, 5:00 PM EDT

Hello I have a rosebush that has partially reverted back to a plain flat five petal red rose. The rose is actually a long stem pink rose. I’ve taken pictures and it looks to me like the red cane is the original rose. And the green cane (which on the right hand side of the rose in two these pictures,) is the reverted cane. I’d like to trim the green cane to the base. Is that what you would recommend? Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you, Charlotte W.

Jackson County Oregon roses

1 Response

Your pictures show a very old rose planting which appears to have been sadly mispruned and/or neglected. What has happened is not "reverting" but a result of the suckers from the root stock (probably that of a red rose) being allowed to grow and bloom. When roses are grafted, the root stock is always the stronger element and provides the ultimate form of the mature plant as well as disease resistance. When suckers sprout, they should be immediately removed at the base of the rose plant.There are half cut off suckers visible in your photos and many of them are now branched and leafing out. Notice how some new growth is red and others is green? Yes, I would agree with you that those little green leafed branches need to be removed. However, you need to check that they indeed are coming from the very base of the plant. New growth on many roses is red but turns green in maturity. The key in thinning out these plants (opening up the center for better air circulation) would be to cut off those suckers that you can definitely identify now and wait for the questionable ones to bloom. Then, any remaining red flowered branches can be safely removed all the way to the ground. A good source of information about rose pruning can be found in the Sunset Western Garden Book. It is still time to prune roses, so much of the suckering can be cut now and into the bloom season. Next season your rose should be well on its way to a totally pink beauty!.