May 25th, 2007
Rose ‘Penelope’

photo: Rose Penelope
Hybrid Musk Rose ‘Penelope’ Austin, TX 2003-11-03. ‘Penelope’ is no blushing, virginal rosebud, but a fullblown, dowager beauty.

Dateline: 2007-05-25
I had to pull up ‘Penelope’ today and put it a plastic bag in the trash. I never put my rose cuttings on the compost because it is too easy to spread diseases and ‘Penelope’ succumbed to rose dieback.

I’m really surprised because last fall when ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ struggled and died and ‘Prosperity’ held on by one cane (and has now sprouted a second), ‘Penelope’ was growing strong. She had gotten huge and her leaves were large and a deep healthy green. This spring she bloomed more profusely than ever before.

photo: Rose Penelope

Then as soon as the flowers faded she showed the tell-tale signs. All the leaves on a cane turned yellow overnight.

photo: Rose Penelope

I tried stripping the leaves and cutting back the canes to green wood. But it didn’t help. In three weeks she went from looking gorgeous to dead.

photo: Rose Penelope

In A Year of Roses Stephen Scanniello says that dieback is a fungal disease and can be spread by allowing water to splash on the leaves when watering or a stressful situation (like last year!) when the roses don’t get enough water. Insects can also spread dieback as the gardener by pruning one rose and then another without sterilyzing (dipping in bleach) the pruning shears.

photo: Rose Penelope
2007-05-25. Tell-tale signs of cane dieback.

Zanthan Gardens History

Dateline: 2002-11-10
I fell in love with ‘Penelope’ the first time I saw a photo of her. Creamy white, blush of pink, peaches and cream–she was all of these. But her most entrancing characteristic was that she seemed to be lit from within. She glowed.

So last year, ‘Penelope’ was on my list of “must buy” roses when we went to the Antique Rose Emporium. That day the ‘Penelope’ roses were looking peaked, so I came home with her older sister ‘Prosperity’ instead. (Both were developed by Joseph Pemberton.)

Happily, this year I found a healthly looking ‘Penelope’ at Barton Springs Nursery (supplied by the Antique Rose Emporium).

Dateline: 2006-03-29
Now into her fourth spring in my garden the Hybrid musk rose ‘Penelope’ has really matured. She has produced many large sprays at the end of her long arching boughs, often with up to a dozen flowers in each spray creating an instant bouquet. Like the other hybrid musk roses (‘Prosperity’ and ‘Buff Beauty’) one large flower (3 inches across) blooms first and then as it fades the others in the bouquet open. I’ve read that you’re suppose to pinch the early flower in the bud, but I never do.

photo: Rose Penelope
Hybrid Musk Rose ‘Penelope’ Austin, TX 2006-03-29. Still wet from yesterday’s record 4 inches of rain.

In my mind ‘Penelope’ is a white rose and am surprised when I look back over my photographs to see her in color. When temperatures are cool (below 60), the flowers open a soft, peachy pink. But when that the temperatures are in the 90s, the color drains away.

This year she leafed out before the spring cankerworms began their assault, but she is particularly affected by them because of her velvety leaves and habit of forming the buds on short stems inside the leaves.

Hybrid musk roses have the reputation of blooming well in filtered shade even with only 5 hours of sunlight. However, I find that ‘Penelope’ blooms does not bloom well after the trees have leafed out. Whether that’s due to lack of sunlight or too much heat, I can’t tell yet.

by M Sinclair Stevens

15 Responses to post “Rose ‘Penelope’”

  1. From jenn:

    Love your photos.

  2. From Don:

    Such pretty flowers. I am envious.

  3. From Sheila Freeborn:

    Would like to buy this beautiful rose for friend 50th birthday.

  4. From Julie (Austin):

    Sorry to hear about the death of this beauty.

    How does one tell “dieback” from other rose afflictions — like severe black spot, when all the leaves drop off? Just a matter of pruning and waiting/hoping for new growth?

    Well, with black spot you have black spots on the leaves. The leaves stay green longer and it effects the individual leaves. Some start to turn yellow but they don’t all turn yellow and fall off at once. I’ve often strip off leaves showing black spot but the rose always responds with new growth. With dieback, it looks like someone sprayed it with glyphosate or something. The leaves turn brown. The cane turns brown (cut it and you’ll see the brown center). And once that happens, the cane will not produce new buds. — mss

  5. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    That must be discouraging! Geez, I didn’t even know that die-back lurked out there for my roses. Something else to worry about, right?

    All the leaves yellowed and fell off my ‘Valentine’ rose this spring. That was the rose that looked so poor during the Ground Robin, remember? After sitting naked for a couple of weeks, it began to releaf, and now it’s in bloom again. Obviously not die-back, but it had me worried for a while.

  6. From Annie in Austin:

    Oh, M – what a shame. Those hybrid musks are so beautiful. Maybe one of mine has it, too – that possible ‘Dr Huey’ on the south fence dropped all its leaves. Some canes are green but have long brown sections. The other old climber over there also de-leafed itself, as did the two mini-roses nearby. They’re just beginning to grow new leaves. These roses are in winter/spring sun with summer shade, so a similar situation to yours.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I don’t think that the leaves yellowed and dropped. It happens so quickly that the leaves just turn brown overnight without dropping. I’ve never had a case of one of my roses dropping all its leaves. Many of my roses have mild cases of blackspot but defoliation has never been an issue. — mss

  7. From Julie (Austin):

    Thanks for the black spot info. I guess I’ll whack these that have gotten so bare, feed, and see if they revive. The hardiest rose in my yard is Marie Daly (same as Marie Pavie?), little pink blooms with nice soapy fragrance.

  8. From firefly (Maine):

    Such a lovely rose — what a shame. Isn’t there anything that can prevent it?

    Would spraying with neem oil solution help? It supposedly has antifungal properties and since it is an oil might protect the leaves from water splashes … ? I don’t know that much about growing roses, but it might be worth investigating.

  9. From Ki (New Jersey):

    It’s unfortunate to have lost such a lovely rose and the ‘Madame Joseph Schwartz’ too. I’m amazed that the dieback would occur so quickly. We do get black spot but I haven’t seen dieback. I noticed some of our branches of our apple tree are dying. I think it may be fire blight which is probably a fungal disease related to dieback.

    Here’s a site with some information on dieback. They claim dieback happens when the rose is already stressed by blackspot.

    They recommend a regular spray program of fungicides which I’m not happy to do. I tried spraying elemental sulfur liquid mixed with water and a few drops of detergent with mixed results. I also tried dusting the soil around the rose plant with sulfur dust and corn gluten again with mixed results. I think my problem has been too lax a program of spraying and I only sprayed when the problem (black spot) was already advanced. Good luck with your ‘Prosperity’.

    Thanks for the info. I was surprised by the suddenness of the attack. ‘Penelope’ seemed to be one of the roses least affected by last year’s stressful drought. And she seemed so healthy this spring; no blackspot. I try to avoid spraying. Corn meal is recommended by various organic nurseries in Austin. I need to try it. — mss

  10. From r sorrell (Austin):

    I lost a couple of roses last year to what I think was dieback. This year two lost their leaves, but the canes are still green.

    I guess I need to bleach my pruning tools.

    See Rebecca’s fantastic idea below. I’ve been lax about sterilizing my tools, but I’m going to try the Clorox wipes. And I tend to handle all my plants by way of saying hello so I suppose I spread disease from one plant to another. Maybe I need to use some of that disinfectant soap on myself. — mss

  11. From Rebecca:

    Hi, MSS, I’m a “lurker” and enjoy your very informative blog, but never feel that I have anything to add – just learn. I wanted to mention that when cutting my roses, I use the Clorox bleach wipes to wipe down my pruners. It seems impractial to bleach the blades after every cut otherwise. I’ve had really good luck since I’ve started this and thought the suggestion might be helpful.

    Thanks for allowing me to “desk garden” at work and may the coming Austin Summer treat you kindly!

    Wow! That’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for delurking. It’s always good to hear from another gardener. — mss

  12. From Maria_Philippines:

    My husband and I have red and white roses. It’s our first time to have this kind of flower and whenever our roses blooms, its center has this brown colored material then after a few days, the flower dies already. We don’t know what is that. Is that a kind of an insect? The leaves have a lot of holes in it, too. Please help us eliminate this. I’d love to hear an advice from anyone. Thanks!

    I don’t know what it could be. Readers? — mss

  13. From Suzie, Altoona, PA:

    My rose bush has lost all of its leaves. The flowers remain. I figured we had a lot of rain and thought maybe that was the problem. The leaves where yellow with some spots on them. Did it have spot rot? I am upset. I have had problems in the past, it would not bloom, now this. Help!

    I am not very familiar with problems caused by lots of rain since that is not a condition we suffer from much here. The best thing to do is to take a leaf sample (dying not dead) to your local independent nursery or to your county extension office. They are most familiar with the problems afflicting plants in your area and will provide a more appropriate solution. — mss

  14. From Jason, McMinnville Oregon:

    I appreciate the info on black spots so much! Thank you. I have no idea what I’m doing in the garden but have recently found myself interested so I decided to begin taking care of a scrubby neglected rose bush that came with our house. Now that I know how to treat black spots, I just have to figure out why the flowers which were a deep red in color during the spring have faded all of a sudden and turned pale. Anyone have any ideas that might help me out?

  15. From Lonnie Keene:

    I’m trying to find out where to buy the Penelope Rose for my garden. Can you please advise where to purchase in the Springfield, MA area?

    Thank you!