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Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Hutto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Planting a non-native rose on oak tree in Hutto TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to consider planting an earth-kind climbing rose on the south side of my 12 ft oak tree. Is this a good idea? Will I create problems?


We are not sure what you mean by an "earth-kind" rose. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. We need to point out that there is no such thing as a true "climbing" rose, in the terms of an ivy or honeysuckle that either has stick-tights or winding tendrils to help the vines grow. Rose have stiff canes, and to make them go up, they need to be tied to some sort of trellis or support. We don't know how this would work trying to take it up an oak tree. In the winter, roses being deciduous, you would just have long bare canes tied to a tree with no leaves, kind of pitiful.

Most roses need a good quantity of sunlight to fuel their blooms. We consider full sun to be 6 or more hours of sun a day, part shade 2 to 6 hours of sun, and shade less than 2 hours of sun a day.There are other factors besides heavy shade that might be causing problems in getting plants to stay alive, including the fact that oak roots tend to be in the upper 12 inches of the soil, and form a mat that would be discouraging to other plant roots. In addition, there is the question of allelopathy. From the University of California Cooperative Extension article Landscape Notes by James Downer, Farm Advisor, we have extracted this paragraph about the allelopathy of oaks:

"Various studies have demonstrated that oaks can have allelopathic affects on surrounding plants. Allelopathy is the production of plant inhibiting chemicals by one plant to regulate the growth of others in its vicinity. One important group of chemicals produced by oaks is tannins. They are produced in leaves and litter and also directly by root systems in soil. Tannins are inhibitory to many organisms. Salicylic acid and other organic acids are also produced by oaks and are toxic to other plants. Allelopathy is species specific for the oak in question and the species that is inhibited."

So, you get our drift-not many roses are native to North America, most are from China. The oak is not going to like having that rose under it, and the rose is not going to like having the shade of the oak. However, we will give you some roses native to Texas to look at; there is nothing to keep you from trying it if you want to. There are 9 members of the Rosa genus native to Texas, but only 2 seem to have the possibility of surviving in Williamson County. These are going to be "wild" roses, and it's unlikely you will find them in a nursery.

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) - low, freely suckering rose, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Rosa setigera (Climbing prairie rose) - has canes 6 to 15 ft. long, which classify it as a climbing rose; it is mostly found growing on fences in East Texas.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Rosa carolina

Rosa setigera




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