What Do Dry Leaves After Planting a Rose Bush Mean?

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    Damaged Feeder Roots

    • The presence of dry leaves on your newly planted rose bushes may indicate that you have lost or damaged feeder roots. Feeder roots are the tiny, delicate roots on a rose that actually collect most of the water and nutrients that nourish the leaves, canes and flowers of the rose bush. If you haven’t already cut back the rose by half from its pre-transplant size, do so quickly. You will have to compensate for the missing feeder roots until new ones establish themselves in about two months. Water daily and keep the soil moist, but not wet. Don’t fertilize, because the bush can’t absorb it until the feeder roots come back.

    Transplant Shock

    • If you’ve been careful about preserving the feeder roots, you can still get some leaf wilting, especially around the edges, due to transplant shock. To compensate, protect the canes from loss of moisture until the roots are established in their new home. Spray the canes with an anti-transpirant solution, a commercial product available at your nursery that helps keep moisture from evaporating from the canes. If the feeder roots aren’t damaged, you may apply a little fertilizer, but don’t overdo it.

    Overheated Roots

    • Roses like a cool, moist root system. To help cool the roots, pile a hill of mulch around the canes to insulate and hold moisture around the canes and roots until new shoots begin to appear in a week or two. In hot, dry weather you may need to reduce heat and moisture loss by stringing up a sheet of burlap or shade cloth above the bush till it perks up.


    • You can do several things to prevent the leaves from drying out when you are planting your roses. Dig the hole before you remove the rose bush from its container so that you quickly remove it from its container and set it immediately into the hole. Fill the hole with water and let it absorb into the surrounding ground. Then, quickly plant the bush and pile up mulch around the roots.


    • Your rose bush may look terrible and lose a lot of leaves following transplant. Don’t panic. Begin taking care of the transplanted rose just as you would any other rose bush. Water and mulch. Tuck a few banana peels into the mulch. Roses like that. Above all, be patient. Resist the urge to fiddle with it. If you need to trim it, do so, then leave it alone. Most of the time, what a transplanted rose needs is time to re-establish itself. Resist the urge to overwater. That will kill it. A transplant solution used according to directions along with your regular watering can help, but again, don’t overwater and don’t over-fertilize. Just care for it the same way you do the healthy roses next to it in the garden. It may be next growing season before the bush looks like anything, but roses are a pretty hardy species. The leaves may droop and wilt. The plant may look dead, but if you give it what it needs and leave it alone to recover, it will likely survive.

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