Meet Dr. Huey

The blooms you see are NOT blooms of the Peace rose. They’re the blooms of its rootstock, Dr. Huey. The top of the grafted plant was probably killed by cold weather.

This picture demonstrates a prime reason you need to plant own-root roses: the blooms you see are NOT blooms of the Peace rose. They’re the blooms of its rootstock, Dr. Huey. The top of the grafted plant was most likely killed by cold weather. Here’s what the Peace rose looks like.

Rose.A.Mailend1

By Hobbykafe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10054325

The Peace rose has a famous backstory dating to before WWII. Check it out here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Peace

What happened?

What’s happened is that Peace was grafted onto easy-to-root Dr. Huey plants, but then the cold weather killed the top of the plant, and the rootstock that was left sprang up and bloomed.  Every spring here in Zone 6, Dr. Huey is blooming everywhere. I like the maroon flowers and gold stamens, but the rose is a once-bloomer, and the plant itself is not great looking without blooms.

Answer: Because it’s cheaper to produce grafted plants

To make mass production of plants easier, growers root the variety of rose that’s easiest to get rooted. They then graft the more finicky variety, such as Peace, onto the already-rooted plants, and sell those.

Another reason you don’t want grafted plants

Not only will the top of a grafted plant often die, leaving you with Dr. Huey, but grafted roses also don’t thrive as well or live as long. After only a few years, a grafted plant will decline and die from a kind of tissue rejection. On the other hand, a rose on its own roots will live as long as a tree. 

Where to get own-root roses

I’ve listed my go-to sources here: Sources for excellent own-root roses

  1. Read the labels: if a rose is own-root, it will probably be labeled as own-root. If it’s listed a #1 – or # 1 1/2 or any number plant, it’s grafted.
  2. There are plenty of growers who sell own-root roses only: Petals From the Past in Birmingham, Antique Rose Emporium in central Texas, and Heirloom Roses out west are my go-to sources for own-root roses.

Lazy gardeners, plant own-root, for a rose that will thrive for a long, long time. 

 

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