June 27th, 2006
Rose Dieback

photo: rose die back
My white China rose ‘Ducher’ succumbs to rose dieback.

Rose dieback is not a disease, I’ve read, but it sure acts like one. The canes begin turning brown and dying back. At first, it’s difficult to tell whether or not the rose just needs a little more water and extra loving care. Then, more and more canes die back and the rose is dead.

Your supposed to be able to squelch the spread of the dieback by pruning the cane low where it is still green. If you look at the the place you cut, there should be no brown center. Howeever, with ‘Ducher’ and major cane had died and I couldn’t cut it out without cutting the bush in half. No matter. The whole thing is dead now, to my regret. I always thought of ‘Ducher as my New Year’s rose as, here in Austin, it seemed to bloom best in the winter. I don’t know if that’s because it preferred temperatures in the 50s, or it was just relieved to be out of the shade of the pecan. I loved its lemony scent, its very reddish new growth, and that it formed a neat, dense shrub.

I lost “Caldwell Pink” to dieback last year about this same time.

I’ve always thought I was good pruner, but the primary cause of rose dieback is poor pruning–pruning too far above a node. Given that ‘Ducher’ was very dense and twiggy, she was difficult to prune. So I guess it’s my fault. Darn!

by M Sinclair Stevens

9 Responses to post “Rose Dieback”

  1. From r sorrell (Austin):

    I uprooted a few of my roses last week because their leaves were turning a brownish-yellow color. And now, my Crepescule is getting sick, too. It’s very depressing.

    R~, I was telling my son about my rose ‘Penelope’ and he said, “You name your roses!?!” “No. I didn’t. The hybridist did.” I think it’s harder to lose a rose than any other plant. I know each by name and habit. I think it does set one up for a very personal relationship. In requiem for the rose friends I’ve lost: ‘Marie Pavie’, ‘Sombreuil’, ‘Gruss an Aachen’, yellow ‘Lady Banks’ (3!), “Caldwell Pink”, ‘Souvenir de la St. Anne’, ‘Ducher’ and…oh, durn!, I forgot her name. How depressing! That’s about half of them. On the upside, I did propagate three ‘New Dawn’ rose. from cuttings. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    How sad to lose some of your favorite roses – you have my sympathy.

    Would either of you want to try to root cuttings from my Lady Banks?? I’m pruning it back every few weeks because it blocks the path through the archway.

    I never had ‘Penelope’, but still feel sad about leaving ‘Graham Thomas’, ‘Abraham Darby’ and ‘Kathleen’ in Illinois. “Gruss an Aachen’ was on my wish list for years.

  3. From r sorrell (Austin):

    I actually have a Lady Banks growing on my back fence. The foliage seems healthy enough, but it only had two puny little flowers this spring. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s not old enough yet (at 1 1/2 years), or if it’s just a dud. The plant is still fairly small. I’d certainly try another.

  4. From lynda:

    Dieback is so painful, i never believe that is what the rose is suffering from and try to nurse affected rose back to health, silly i know. Penelope is such a beautiful rose especially when grown with clematis through it. regards, from Tenterfield Australia

  5. From merrill Harrison:

    Dieback is a recurring nightmare in my rose garden, is it a fungus or a virus or a bacteria? Is it spread from unclean secateurs or mould spores, or is it just a weakling of a rose bush. . . .or worse my not so wonderful gardening skills?

    As I said above, I’m not sure what the cause is nor can I provide any fool-proof remedy for treating rose die-back. It’s rather like getting a cold. You can do things to help prevent it but there are no guarantees. Clean your secateurs with disinfectant between bushes. Clean up fallen leaves around rose bushes and don’t mulch any of the clippings. And keep an eye out so you can catch dieback early. If you see a branch dying back, cut it back to the healthy green wood. — mss

  6. From Jill southern oregon:

    I bought a bare root grandiflora “Arizona” this year (true from a chain store!). It never did well and now the canes are turning black I am going to get it out of there in case the problem can be spread but would like to hear any ideas on causes.

    With dieback the canes usually just turn brown very suddenly. Whatever the cause, you should not replant another rose in the same spot unless you remove all the soil and replace it with new soil first. — mss

  7. From Dale Webb, Little Rock:

    Our Sombrueil is dying back. Have any of you guys taken a sample to an Argriculture Extension agent or anybody to see what is going on? We’re going to try to see if we can get somebody to take a look at ours. If we find out anything, we’ll get back to you.

    I’d be very interested in hearing what you find out. — mss

  8. From Robin Walker, Cincinnati:

    I have a 7 yr old climbing rose, New Dawn. It has been beautiful for years and grown some 25 feet along a fence. Late this spring half the rose turned yellow then the canes began to die. It seems as if half the climber is affected so far. What is going on? I thought that maybe our new dog was urinating on the roots. Can this do it? I have been cutting back the dead canes but am afraid that eventually the whole rose will go. Can I cut it to the ground and let it regrow?
    Appreciate any feedback!

  9. From Dr. TKS, India:

    Rose dieback can be either physiological or pathological. At least 2 to 3 fungal pathogens can bring about dieback. High humidity is the reason. Covering the wounds with a good fungicide can prevent the spread. Lack of adeqaute foliage can also be another reason for dieback an probably precipitates the disease