Garden · Roses

The Rose That Won’t Die

Two and half years ago we bought our current house.  The landscaping was mostly dead but I loved that it left me with a clean slate to plant what I wanted where I wanted.  One of the few plants that was still alive was an old rose bush planted in a very bad location.  It had to go.

Right outside our patio door is a long narrow planting bed along the side of the house.  It’s only about 18 inches wide but it comes to a point at each end.  In the pointed area just inches from the door to the backyard, some genius planted a hybrid tea rose bush.  Hybrid teas are huge plants.  The canes hung over and blocked the doorway.  With kids running in and out, it was only a matter of time before someone was sliced by these thorns!

The rose bush was in really bad shape.  It hardly had any leaves and the roses were very few.  The base of it is really thick so I think it’s about 20 years old.  I thought of digging it up and moving it to a better location but how do I dig up something so massive and get it out of such a tight space?  It’s planted in the area that’s only about 6″ wide and it’s surrounded by concrete and the side of the house.  I didn’t think I’d get much of the root ball out without a whole lot of effort.  It didn’t seem worth it.  It probably wouldn’t survive the transplant so why bother?

Life was busy with the move and getting settled in.  That was also the time when we starting homeschooling.  I trimmed back the bush so the kids didn’t get scraped when heading outside to play but otherwise I just ignored it.  The irrigation going to it was severely broken so it wasn’t getting any water.  I didn’t fertilize it.  I thought it would die from neglect but it didn’t.  I hacked it back during the winter and it came back in the spring.  It still wasn’t getting any water or fertilizer.  I cut it back all the way to the ground in July about a year after we’d moved in.  It’s 110 degrees that time of year and I thought that would surely kill it but it came back in time for our fall bloom season!  I hacked it back again in January during the pruning season.  It definitely didn’t count as pruning as I was still hoping to kill it.  But I had decided that if it came backagain then I’d try to take care of it since I certainly wasn’t having much luck in killing it!

When it came back again this past spring, I gave in and added an irrigation line to it and fertilized it with an all purpose organic fertilizer.  The plant had survived and produced roses but it wasn’t that healthy at all.  The addition of the water and fertilizer made a huge difference of course.  It is now fall and I haven’t fertilized it since spring.  It is still giving me lots of amazing blooms!  It’s not in the best health yet but it has greatly improved.  The scent is actually coming back!  It never had a scent which is an automatic death sentence in my book.  I know there are amazing roses that don’t have a fragrance but I just don’t see the point.  I love walking outside and being hit with not only the sight but also the scent of roses!

This fall was the first time it gave me roses that made me actually want to keep the bush.  I have no idea what to do about the size and location problems but I’m doing my best to tame it and we’ve learned to avoid the thorns when using the door.

I took a bloom to the our local rose society in hopes of finding out it’s name.  Some the blooms have been so beautiful that I may just want to enter it in our annual rose show this spring.  A rose must have a name for a show.  The pros at the meeting identified it as Tropicana.

So, what does this indestructible rose bush look like?


Tropicana - the rose bush that won't die
Tropicana – the rose bush that won’t die

See how ugly this thing is?  It’s actually much better now that it’s getting a bit of TLC.  I’m excited to see how it looks when it recovers a bit more from the abuse I’ve dealt it.  It went 2 years without water or fertilizer and it just wouldn’t die.  This is how it looks after regular water and one application of fertilizer 7 months ago.  But why oh why would anyone plant this just inches from a door?!   Grrr…





It’s blooms like this that make me what to keep it.  Beautiful!

Happy Gardening!




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