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Janet Macunovich

Is metal bad for roses

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D.S. wrote recently:

Many years ago I was told that if you buy a rose with a metal tag on it to take it off because it will eventually kill that cane.

My husband got into welding rebar (steel) so I had him make me a trellis last year for my zephirine drouhin climbing rose. It's been over a year now.  It is not doing well.  I got to thinking about what I heard years ago.  Do you think that is what is going on with my rose?  

I made sure when I moved the rose it went into a well-amended hole.


Our first response:

Hi D.S. -

It's true that a metal tag on metal wire looped around a rose cane can eventually kill that cane by girdling. But unless your trellis is somehow tightly circling a cane, there's no parallel. It isn't the metal, or proximity to metal or rust, that affects the rose.


Any rose that's been in your garden for moe than 2 years may not be doing well because the two winters prior to this one were the absolute worst for roses we've ever seen. Many roses that didn't die outright, limped badly.


Second thought: Great drainage is imperative for a rose. Amending the hole well is good, but is the drainage in this spot good? If you dig a hole 18 inches deep there and fill it with water, does it all drain out within a day - better yet, within 12 hours?


Another possibility is that the plant has been infected with rose rosette disease * and is declining although it's not yet showing the definitive symptoms. (We first saw this disease 5 or 6 years ago and took almost a year to figure out what it was, as it was new in the landscape then. Now after only a few years we see it everywhere. It's quite depressing how it affects the sturdy old roses like Zeph as well as the hybrid teas, and even the wild roses...)


From Michigan State University about rose rosette: msue.anr.msu.edu/news/rose_gardeners_should_learn_the_symptoms_of_rose_rosette_virus


If you can tell us more about what it is that causes you to say it's not doing well -- Its color? Overall growth? Flowering poorly? -- we might be able to narrow this down.


I'm sending you this first reply directly but also posting it on our Forum. I hope you will go there if you want to further the conversation. I think there may be others in the community who might have ideas about what's going on with your rose. At any rate, others will benefit by having the discussion out in the public eye.




*Sorry in advance if at some point these hyperlinks fail; it's an unavoidable consequence with our move from GardenAtoZ.com-to-GardenAtoZ.org. If a link fails:

Cut and paste the URL to your browser bar to read the article.

Or go to GardenAtoZ.org or GardenAtoZ.org  then search the article name.


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