Roses Are Plants Too!

Do Own Root Roses Make Better Plants In Your Garden

Own-root roses make a fuller, bush with more flowers.  And that’s better for you!
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses


For this post I’d like to continue our discussion of own-root vs budded roses.  We’ve covered three aspects already.

1)  Why do own-root roses sold in pots seem to take longer to get established?

2)  The middle ground between own-root container grown roses and field-grown budded roses.

3)  Why do some roses do well own-root and some don’t?

To wrap this up I’d like to address the part of this that ultimately affects you, the gardener, the most.

End of the day what kind of rose is better for your garden?  Own-root or budded?

Fair question.  It’s fine and dandy that as we discussed in post #2 producing own-root roses is less expensive or in post #3 we explained why some roses simply don’t do well own root.  You just want the best “type” of rose for your garden.  One that will give you years of pleasure without a lot of fuss.  And that is one of the other reason you are seeing more and more own-root roses.

Own-root roses simply make a better rose bush.

Here’s why.  As I’ve mentioned before one of the definitions of a garden rose is a nice full plant with lots of leaves that looks, well, like a plant!  Hearken back to the dark ages of rose growing when most of the bushes were leafless sticks with flowers on top.  Pretty to cut for the dinner table but you certainly wouldn’t take your guests out to look at them.

Part of that look was due to the fact many of these roses weren’t actually garden roses, but in my opinion it was also partly due to them being budded roses.  A budded rose only grows new canes from the bud union, which is that knot above the roots where all the new growth comes from.  However, most plants want to send up new canes from their root system.  But with a budded plant that root system is not the rose you paid for so you dig down below the soil and cut off the new growth.

Own-root roses, as we’ve discussed, are the same below the ground as they are above.  Therefore they can do what a plant normally wants to do and that is grow new canes from the root system.  And grow lots of them!  Instead of a bush with three to five canes you end up with a bush with five, ten sometimes fifteen or more canes.  A nice full bush with lots of leaves and lots and lots of flowers.

A Plant!

I think this is why you hear more and more people telling you to bury the bud union of a budded plant below the soil so the rose will “revert to an own-root rose.  Own-root roses skip that step and get you there faster!

So yes, there are many reasons why you are seeing more and more own-root roses on the market these days.  And perhaps the most important one is they make a far better product for you, the gardener.

Happy Roseing


View Comments


  1. VicGardener 02/26/2012

    Paul, you make a convincing case. What source do you recommend for own-root roses? I like dealing with my local garden centre; do the tags on the roses have to specify if they are own-root, or budded?

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  2. PFZimmerman 02/27/2012

    Sometimes the tags will specify but I don't think it's required. Your local garden center should have an idea because when roses are ordered from the nursery it says on the order form if it is budded or own root.

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