The Charlie Brown Rosebush

Blooming Rose

The rosebush right in front of my living room window bloomed this great peachish-coral color back in early June. The flowers were gorgeous, if a bit bespeckled with purple weirdness… and many of the leaves looked sickly and spotted.

Blackspot, I Presume?

A week later, the rose bloomed again, this time in yellow. The canes were so thin and spindly that the blooms were drooping pitifully, so I deadheaded most of them and brought the most beautiful inside (on a very short stem).

Yellow Rose in the Kitchen

It was then that I decided I needed to do something about this rosebush. The other bushes on my property seemed to be surviving the neglect of the past few years — their former caretaker having passed away — but this one caught my attention as needing some TLC.

I did some online research about rose pruning during the growing season, and found Paul Zimmerman’s YouTube channel. From his videos, I learned what tools I would need, and I purchased them on Amazon.

The day they arrived, I set to work.

New Tools

This was where I started: a rosebush with about six canes, at least one of which appeared to be dead, and most of which were afflicted with blackspot. The bud union also appeared to me to be completely above ground, which is not how roses should be planted in Zone 5B. It had survived this long, though, so I opted not to worry about it for now.

Rose Before Pruning

I made my first cut: a cane that appeared to be dead or dying, along with being ridden with blackspot. I cut at the base of the cane, but still saw brown in the middle. I thought that meant the tissue was still dead? I couldn’t cut much lower. Was I screwing up already?

First Major Cut

I cut even closer to the base of the cane, but still saw brown in the center.

No matter. I continued to cut first the completely dead canes, then pruned back the necrotic canes to a healthy bud eye as best I could. Finally, I started inspecting the canes with blackspot. I took out as much as I thought was necessary, and started removing only the mildly sickly leaves when I thought I was taking out too much of the rose.

Bud Union After Pruning

When I was done pruning, I had two main canes growing from the bud union, and could clearly see the bud union above ground — at least, I thought that was what I was seeing. Isn’t it?

I also saw a cane-sized shoot coming up next to the rose. At first I hoped that it was indeed another cane… but once I stepped back and stopped deluding myself, I realized that it was a large weed.

Bud Union From Above

After the pruning, but before pulling the Very Large Weed, I was left with a pathetic, scraggly rosebush.

End Result

A few days later, I pulled its weedy companion — and then the full force of what I had done finally hit me.

After Weeding

Dear god! I’ve created the Charlie Brown Rosebush.

Luckily, though, the rose still had buds ready to bloom. What was left seemed healthy.

Healthy Bud

Today, nearly a week after my questionable pruning escapade, there is a single open bloom on the rosebush, with a few more ready to pop.

My Rose Isn't Quite Dead

We’ll see what becomes of my poor little Charlie Brown Rosebush. Hopefully, it will continue to bloom this year, and will come back even stronger next year.

This entire property is a long-term work-in-progress, and any headway I make on even a single plant feels like a win.

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