Rose Pruning Woes: Weeds, Suckers and Termites


We’re in Week 3 of the Urban Farm Project and I’m STILL working on the roses.  For the most part my roses seem to thrive on benign neglect.  I deadhead a couple times during the year, cut them back in the winter, and they reward me with beautiful blooms.

Garden Roses


This year I started cutting the roses back on January 1st.  What should have been a simple task has mushroomed into a mini fiasco.  Thanks to an overzealous azalea, weeds, suckers, and termites it looks like I will have to dig up at least one of the roses, perform surgery, and replant.

This rose had some suckers coming up from the rootstock that I was able to tear off however it looks like half of the rose is rootstock gone wild.

Rose Suckers


And to make matters worse, a thorny prickly weed had grown around the base.  After ripping it out and digging down to look for more suckers I found a huge root system from the weed.  I may dig up this one to remove the weed roots and rose suckers and then replant.

Update:  Thank you to Rebecca who identified this weed as asparagus fern.

Rose Weeds


Does anyone know what this weed is called?  It’s asparagus fern!  It’s awful.  The thorns are really painful and it always seems to return no matter how well I think I’ve dug up it’s roots.  How am I going to get rid of this one growing up from under the brick?

Rose Weeds


This poor rose was overtaken by the azalea bush this year and, after I cut back the azalea, I realized the rose had more suckers than basal canes.

Rose Suckers


This rootstock sucker sprung up halfway between the rose and the one next to it.

Rose Sucker


Suckers weren’t my only problem.  I cut away one large, dead basal cane and found termites.  Gross.

Rose Cane Termite Termite


Here’s a short video highlighting the rose pruning woes with a closer look at the asparagus fern, suckers, and termite:




Be sure to remove the entire root system of the weed or it will grow back.


Tear off the sucker at the base of it’s growth.  This video demonstrates the proper way to remove sucker growth from roses:


Remove all dead canes from your roses and consult a professional if you have a termite infestation in your home.



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