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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - October 09, 2009

From: Conroe, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Non-blooming climbing rose in Conroe, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a climbing rose and it has never bloomed and has no thorns, it was a cutting from another rose bush. I have given it water and fertilize and have mulch around it also.

ANSWER:

The first thing we think of when a plant is not blooming well is that it is getting too much fertilizer, especially too much high nitrogen fertilizer, such as lawn fertilizers. The high nitrogen encourages lots of green leaves, which you want in grasses, but not blooms. If it was a cutting and has not been in the ground long, it simply may not have developed to sufficient maturity to bloom quite yet. The last possibility is that it is not getting enough sun. Roses, whether they are native or non-native, require full sun, which we regard as 6 or more hours of sun a day.

Since we are already at the end of the blooming season for  most roses, we suggest you stop fertilizing, perhaps do a little pruning of dead ends or spindly stems. Then, in January or February, prune it back hard, again taking out any dead wood and leaving the living stems no more than 12 to 18 inches tall. If it is not getting sufficient sun, that would be a good time to transplant it, when the plant is semi-dormant. And still don't fertilize, as a transplanted plant is under stress and you should never fertilize a stressed plant. You can certainly amend the soil where the rose is being transplanted, adding compost or other organic material for good drainage, permitting the roots to get their water and nutrients from the soil. 

 

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