If the main stem dies, the rootstock may sprout a different type of rose.
Sue asks, “I planted two roses in memory of my parents. Unfortunately, the tops were killed during our cold winter. This summer, they have begun sprouting again from the roots. Can these roses be saved?”
The future of your roses depends on whether or not the roses were grafted. With the exception of some heirloom, shrub, and miniature roses; most rose varieties are not grown with their own roots. Instead, they are grafted onto the rootstock of tougher varieties. Take a look at your roses and see if you can find the graft bud – it will be a lump or scar right above the root ball, indicating where the two stems were fused together. If the roses were properly planted, it should be just above ground level.
If your roses are grafted, and the sprouts are coming from below the graft, then the sprouts aren’t the same type of rose. The most common root stock is from a red climbing rose called ‘Dr. Huey,’ which is likely what you’ll have if you let the sprouts grow. If the sprouts are coming from above the graft (or if your roses aren’t grafted), then your rose may indeed be making a comeback!
Hybrid roses do funny things when stressed, so you may not know exactly what has happened to your rose until it blooms again. You may end up with the rose you started with, or you may find that it has reverted to its parent variety (the one used to create the hybrid), or you may find that the rootstock has sprouted a whole different type of plant. Prepare to be surprised!
Before purchasing roses In the future, check to see if the variety is winter-hardy for your hardiness-and-heat-tolerance-understanding-your-zone/”>planting zone. If you’re worried about cold damage in your area, see our article on How To Winterize Roses.