by Connie Oswald Stofko
Debbie Hageman of Lancaster e-mailed us this question:
“I’m looking for information on winter damage for a rose (I think it’s an old fashioned rose) that split where the two main canes come together. Can they be glued or taped? Thanks for any information.”
Yes, they can be taped, answered John Farfaglia, Extension educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County.
“Basically you want to get those two pieces to hold together long enough for the tissue to repair itself,” Farfaglia said.
The process is something like setting a broken bone. You can use bamboo stakes or something similar as splints, then tape the splints so the two stem surfaces are in direct contact with each other– it’s important that they’re in direct contact, he emphasized. The splints will help prevent wind or other forces from pulling the two pieces apart.
You can buy the kind of tape that is used on tree trunks, but duct tape or electrical tape will work, too.
The repair should be done as soon as possible after the break occurred. If the break occurred earlier in the winter, repairing it now might still work, Farfaglia said.
In June, if the plant is leafing out and looks like it’s growing normally, you’ll know that the repair is working. During the summer, carefully remove the tape if it hasn’t already pulled away on its own. You don’t want to keep the tape on too long because insects can get underneath it, he said.
“My number one recommendation is to try” to repair the break, Farfaglia said. “The only other alternative is to cut the plant back.”
Depending on how deep the break is, you may be cutting into the root stock. That could be a problem if the plant is grafted, he explained.
With a grafted rose, you may have, for example, a pink rose grafted onto the root stock of a hardier wild rose. You have to think of the root and the stem as two separate plants. If you cut into the root stock, instead of getting a pink rose, you may get a wild rose.
Almost everything that’s been recently released is grafted, but an older rose may not be. (As you can see from the photos she sent us later, Hageman’s break isn’t near the root.)
“A lot of the old roses are pretty resilient,” Farfaglia said. Trying to repair the rose is “definitely worth a shot.”
By the way, Hageman isn’t sure what kind of a rose she has. If anyone can identify it for her, please leave a comment. Thanks!
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