Published by Rose Sales Online on 5th Mar 2020

Hello dear Rose Friends!

As the smoke haze lifts to be replaced by incredible flooding last Sunday evening when we received 90mm within half an hour here at Clonbinane... see our front fence destroyed by debris and fast flowing rain water which was headed for the Sunday Creek within 50 metres of our fence line. 

The issue of understock emerging whether from a newly established rose or perhaps a rose which has become stressed due to external pressures can be annoying and very frustrating in your rose garden.

Here's an email exchange so that you too can get rid of understock growth:

'Hi, I enjoy reading your rose rambler emails and I was hoping you could answer a question for me. I was told that you can tell the difference between root stock and the rose you want by the number of leaves on the branch - 5 for rose and 7 for root stock. Is this correct or just an urban myth? Also, does leaving the root stock hurt the plant at all?

Thanks - Mary-Ann'

My Response: Hi Mary-Ann .... this is a bit of a furphy or an 'urban myth' because indeed, lots of old-fashioned/species roses carry seven leaves and so do lots of modern roses! There are many different varieties of rootstock too!

Here is a picture of 'Dr. Huey' understock:

Leaving understock/rootstock to grow at the base of any rose will deplete the rose of energy, reduce flowering potential and eventually can take-over completely so the rose succumbs and dies.

We always recommend removing rootstock BEFORE it has the opportunity to take over and dominate - to do this, put gloves on, grab the rootstock in both hands and pull very sharply down and away. If the piece you end up with has a nicely rounded end, you have more than likely been 100% successful in permanently removing the active 'eye' which produces the growth. 

You'll know soon enough- if there is re-growth within a few weeks, you might need to get down and eyeball exactly where the active 'eye' is and then, with a sharp knife, cut upwards and inwards from beneath and above the understock growth 'eye' - a wide 'V' in the understock stem. This should 100% successfully remove all possibility of understock growth. Push the soil back and give the plant a soak with seaweed solution to speed-up callousing and recovery.

If the rose is very old and been producing basal understock growth which you've been cutting off for a long time, it might be worth considering removing the entire rose and take at least a barrow-load of soil from the area. Restore the site by adding compost/aged animal manure and some left over leaf-litter from somewhere else in your garden (for microbe population). Soak the area with seaweed solution once a week for six weeks and then replant a new rose in that location. Hope this is helpful.... cheers - Graham

WATER SHOOTS on the other hand, are lovely new growths from the base/crown of a rose which is growing perfectly. Sturdy water shoots will carry lots of flowers, replace old growth and should be encouraged on all your roses by regular applications of quality organic fertilizer and monthly seaweed solution. 

During this phenomenally hot summer, here are a couple of roses which have excelled in their abundant flowering, strong/healthy foliage and tolerance to heat:


The Children’s Rose produces highly fragrant blooms of soft powder pink which slowly unfurl to reveal a mass of swirling petals in fully double blooms. The flowering stems are mostly single, sometimes in clusters and are very long lasting in the vase. There are very few thorns on the flower stems which means that the children themselves can pick the flowers! Purchase Rose!


Pink - Regarded by David Austin himself as “a rather special rose; in fact, it is possibly the best rose that we have introduced to date.”

Named for David Austin’s granddaughter, it commences flowering very early in the season and continues well into autumn. Medium to large fully cupped roses of an even mid pink which have a good fruity fragrance and sit on a very healthy, well balanced bush. Purchase Rose!


Was one of the most outstanding and alluring roses we saw in the rose fields last summer when we went to check-out all the new release roses … stunningly healthy foliage on a sturdy, rounded shrub just over 1 metre tall smothered in large blooms of brightest pink – and, it’s beautifully fragrant to boot!!

Customers who grow this beauty report abundant flowering - extremely healthy bush - lovely and already a favourite. Purchase Rose!

Yes, I know, they’re all pink roses but oh, my goodness, they’re all so delightfully fragrant as well!!!

Q. What does a queen bee do when she burps? A. She issues a royal pardon.

IN CLOSING... We hope you've had good rain on your garden - enjoy all that being an Aussie means to you this Australia Day!

Cheers from Graham, Diana & Mooi at SILKIES ROSE FARM, CLONBINANE - a great destination for a day out this holiday weekend!