Roses: own root vs grafted

The increased popularity of roses has brought with it the need for new techniques to make roses more reliable for the gardener. The availability of own rooted roses instead of grafted roses has been the biggest improvement to date. Own rooted means that the top of the rose and the roots are genetically the same. Grafted roses, like commercial apple trees, have a top (scion) grafted on a bottom (rootstock) that is not identically the same. The rose rootstocks can be variable in hardiness and produce an inferior rose if allowed to grow.

The advantages of own rooted roses are:
1. The rose will have similar cold hardiness top to bottom.
2. Suckers coming from the roots will produce the same rose you initially purchased.
3. Pruning is made easier since the whole plant is the same rose so there is no concern of pruning out the desired rose.

As a general rule, the own rooted roses are usually the hardy shrub roses that can survive the cold prairie winters. It is not unusual that most of these cold hardy roses winterkill partially or totally above ground. However, new suckers come from the root, and that rose will vigorously grow the next growing season and produce a great display of flowers.

The most commonly grafted roses are the tender roses that flourish in zone 5 (Kelowna) and can struggle in zone 2 (Saskatoon) and zone 3 (Edmonton) if winter protective measures are not done in the fall. Tender roses are the ones with the spectacular blooms that are long lasting and fragrant. These roses require winter protection such as piling autumn leaves a minimum of 30 cms above the graft before the temperature consistently stays below freezing. If the top dies back the roots will sucker up the next season and produce a poor quality rose, not the rose you had purchased the season before.

Most gardeners plant own rooted instead of grafted roses since they are hardier, easier to maintain and much more reliable. The gardener who wants something very special in a rose will choose a grafted rose that requires extra work and dedication.

Happy Gardening!

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Floortje

Guest post by Rick - Bylands Product Development

I was born and brought up in Manitoba, and this has influenced my outlook and forged my love of the prairies. I now live in the Okanagan Valley and continue to focus on improving plant material suited for the Canadian prairies. The advantage of living and working in a Zone 5 is that I can easily access a wider variety of plant material to breed with a select group of cold hardy material that I brought with me from Manitoba.  I look forward to introducing new plants from Bylands in future years. With my wife Karen, we enjoy the opportunity on weekends to hike the first class hiking trails in the Kelowna area.