Your plant absolutely can be salvaged, even if there's a large amount of dieback.

Roses experience dieback for a variety of reasons, but as long as more than half of your plant remains healthy, you may be able to save it with some careful pruning. Proper care, maintenance, and a little bit of patience is all you'll need to get your roses back into shape. Ahead, exactly how to do so, according to an expert.

constance spry rose bush
Credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Dieback happens for a myriad of reasons.

Rose dieback is typically caused by a number of things, like improper nutrient levels and maintenance, fungus and insect damage, plant age, and improper placement, says Matt Arnett, a Georgia-based certified plant professional with Pike Nurseries. "Because dieback is caused by a combination of these factors, it is very hard to determine the root cause," he adds. This can make treating it a bit more challenging, but not impossible.

Act quickly.

Arnett says to act quickly, as soon as you notice this condition; you'll want to prune any impacted stems back to the unaffected part of the plant. "These might be small stems or larger sections that need to be removed back to one of the main canes," he says. "Use sharp pruners for clean cuts." Additionally, Arnett says to monitor the foliage for signs of insect and fungus damage; look for discoloration and holes. "If there are issues, bring a sample of the damaged foliage to your local garden center and they can help you determine the right remedy," he says.

Prevent future problems with strategic planting.

If your roses aren't planted in the correct location, under the right conditions, they will be more likely to experience dieback. "Roses perform poorly in shady or wet locations, so put them in a spot that receives at least six hours of sun and has well-drained soil," he says. "When planting, don't plant the rose too deep," he says, explaining that these plants are sold in two ways: containerized and bare-root. "If working with containerized roses, plant them at the same level as they are in the container." And for bare-root varieties, Arnett notes to follow the planting instructions given by the rose supplier.

Don't get intimidated.

Don't let the chance of dieback scare you from growing roses in the first place; Arnett says these bushes can provide a lot of visual intrigue to your garden. "The diversity found within roses, from different growing habits to the wide range of bloom colors and fragrances, offers something for every gardener," he explains.


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