The Garden Magazine 19(5): 298-299 (June 1914)

[Editors' Note: In a recent issue of The Garden Magazine a correspondent expressed himself very definitely as preferring budded or grafted rose plants to plants on their own roots (cuttings). Exception has been taken to that statement as being too general, too sweeping in its terms, although our correspondent, it may be noted, qualified his remarks by restricting their application to cold climates. In the belief that a fair and thorough presentation of the facts based on actual experience, would be of real help in this perplexing problem, we have invited expression from many rose lovers. Some of these are here presented — others will appear later. And in the meantime, we extend an invitation to our readers to contribute any actual facts that may have a bearing on the problem — mere opinions will not help; we ask for facts. The truth probably lies all around; by that we mean that there can be no one general answer to the question. Demonstration plots have been established this year at the Country Life Press Gardens, where visitors may see for themselves how the various kinds of plants behave under the peculiar conditions of Garden City, N. Y .]

Jens Jensen, Landscape Architect and former Park Superintendent, Says:
"We have in the parks a great number of Tea roses and Hybrid Perpetuals. I am planting very few H.P. as the Teas blooming all summer are so satisfactory with us. The Hybrid Teas make better root systems of their own than on grafted stock, and as this climate is very unfavorable for roses, due to the dry summers and cold winters, their own roots will stand droughts better and they rarely freeze out, whereas on the grafted or briar stock everything winter kills except the briar itself; or there may be a little shrivelled wood left which keeps you guessing what the result will be. Plants on their own roots you can cut back close to the ground and you are sure that it is not a briar that is coming up, but the desired variety; besides Teas bloom sooner from their own roots.

Grafted Tea roses are not nearly as lasting as their own root stock. They will have to be looked after continually or the wild wood is liable to take possession and crowd out the grafted stock. As for the Hybrid Perpetuals there is no question but that the grafted stock is best. Their hardy nature resembles more that of the briar or Manetti and they make very poor roots of their own. Grafting makes them more floriferous and there is a great need for this.

A friend of mine agrees with me; and he further states that few people want roses in their gardens that do not bloom more or less the entire summer, especially the Hybrid Perpetuals that with us bloom for only a few weeks in June. He also states that the large rose growers in the United States are all growing own root roses. The day of the Hybrid Tea rose is just coming and you will see that the grafted stock will not be wanted.
Chicago, Ill.

R. Janicke, an Amateur of Missouri:
Budded roses are very useful for immediate effect and give an abundance of flowers the first season, but are short lived compared to own root roses. Budded roses must be planted deep enough to cover the union of cion and root to prevent suckers from root and winter killing of cion. This deep planting causes the formation of a crown of fibrous, feeding roots from the cion, while the hriar stock will form very few feeding roots and gradually dwindles away. Own root roses usually have a very dense fibrous root system and live longer than budded plants. To develop the individuality of every variety, roses should be grown on their own roots.

A few of the newer varieties of Hybrid Perpetuals, Austrian Briar Hybrids (Pernetiana), and a few Hybrid Teas are weak growers on own roots, and will form more perfect flowers if budded on the strong growing briar or Manetti. These few exceptions should be accepted as a necessary evil and budding should therefore be restricted to these weak growers.

In our climate small potgrown roses of the Polyanthas, Teas, Hybrid Teas and Bengals will bloom splendidly the first year and develop into strong plants by fail.

After the first heavy frost in November the leaves should be stripped and the plant taken up and planted closely in a cold frame or sheltered spot in the garden and well covered with dry leaves or hay, protecting further with tar paper or boards to keep out rain and the winter sun, but should be subjected to light freezes. The following spring these roses are thoroughly rested and will flower more abundantly and freely than any budded roses.
St. Joseph, Mo.

Admiral Aaron Ward thus states the result of years of close observation on Long Island:
"To be of any use, a statement of preferences in rose stocks for open ground plants should give some idea of the conditions on which the choice is based. In my case, the plants are in an old garden on the North Shore of Long Island, close to salt water, good exposure and free circulation of air. The soil, two feet of sandy loam with subsoil of sand.

Omitting climbers, the varieties some twenty years ago were mostly Hybrid Perpetuals, Chinas, small Polyanthas, and Bourbons; at present chiefly Hybrid Teas, all dwarfs or so-called bush roses, no standards. The temperature ranges from about 3 below zero in winter to 98 degrees in summer, the extremes being reached only two or three times in a season.

The forms of growth have been on own root; or budded, on Manetti, on briar cuttings, or on seedling briar, the Manetti and briar cutting not used, when avoidable, in recent years. The form preferred is budded on seedling briar; reason, better all around results than obtained with the other forms above named. Too many of the Hybrid Teas will not thrive on their own roots at all and the Manetti does not seem long lived.

It should be noted that this garden is used for pleasure not for profit, pruned for quality not for quantity. The bushes are planted to stay, not to be removed unless better varieties, well tested out in advance, appear to take their places. The varieties are mostly full flowered, very few thin ones. When planted they are field grown plants in their second year — that is to say, roses budded in August, 1912, have been grown out of doors until April, 1914, and then placed in the garden.

As to climbers, the Multiflor and Wichuraiana hybrids, such as Crimson Rambler, Dorothy Perkins, Evergreen Gem and in general the hardiest and most prolific of these two climbing classes, do well here on their own roots.

Change any of the above conditions and it is possible that a different opinion as to stocks will be fully justified. For instance, it is generally known that certain Hybrid Teas do much better on briar cutting stock than on seedling briar — but not in the Long Island summer climate. Reason, not enough deep root growth. Again, an eminent British authority showed me in his garden last year some beautiful Comtesse du Cayla and other Chinas on their own roots. In a similar climate I should certainly try out this method of growing Chinas, but from previous and bitter experience it might not do here.

It follows that your symposium is likely to show great diversity of opinion and many of these views may be absolutely correct for the localities and conditions on which they are based. Which simply means that in this huge country, with a climate ranging from polar to tropical and every known variety of soil, rainfall and exposure, any hard and fast rule as to rose stocks will not govern.
Roslyn, N. Y.

C. L. Meller, Landscape Architect and Park Superintendent, Speaks for North Dakota:
"Oh, Mr. Meller! will you please come up and look at the rose bed you planted for us; some of the roses are running wild. Reverting to the ancestral form I suppose." Thus was I greeted, and what I expected I found.

It was budded stock I had set out, and some of the roots had sent up vigorous shoots that competed strenuously with the buds. But for this fact the rose bed was thriving, thriving under neglect because the soil was a soil that roses like. The inference seems obvious and if my experience had been limited to this single instance it might be: plant no more budded stock. However, I took up those wildings and planted budded stock, only an entirely different kind. I take it upon myself now to watch that rose bed a little and see to it that proper care is given.

A friend of mine writes: "I think they are much better if on their own roots, the severe cold seems to hurt the budded or grafted stock." This man has raised roses in North Dakota for twelve years and yet I am not convinced. Perhaps the editor has no business printing this. This friend I speak of raised in 1911 from his Paul Neyron roses, blossoms that measured six and a half inches across. He further tells me that he has tried almost every kind but has found that a lot of them will not stand our winters. This year he cuts down the list of roses with which, as he tells me, he has had the best results, to six Hybrid Perpetuals. Therein his trouble lies and that of many another who attempts to decide upon the respective merits of budded stock and own root roses for our northwest, at least for a large part of the region of the Red River of the North; they have not found the rose actually suited to our climate, but unaware of this fact they lay to budded stock the inherent weakness of the kind of rose they are trying to grow. The Hybrid Perpetual is not the rose altogether suited to our climate though some few varieties of that type prove hardier than others. The China rose, or Hybrid Bengal, Gruss an Teplitz is the rose for us. I have had real success with budded stock of this rose. Others have had like experience.

Soil is a rose's chief concern and we have the rich, clinging, clayey soil a rose delights in; perhaps a little too heavy our soil may be, but when into this there is spaded some cow manure rich in well rotted straw, an excellent humus, we have a soil to make a rose root grow with a gluttonous abandon. How well our soil is adapted to roses is attested to by the fact that our native prairie rose becomes a weed that seriously interferes with the cultivation of crops! Among the grains it also flourishes. There it takes the place of the poppy and the bachelor button of European grain fields. Now into this soil thrust a coarse vigorous root able to assimilate this abundance of coarse food and upon it bud a stock innured to the climate and what else but success can follow? The wilding is more able to dig into the soil and feed so that the budded stock will get its food more easily and in greater abundance.

A positive climate confronts the rose out on the prairies. The frost goes down eight feet or more and the wind at times, is strong. Our growing season is short, but nearly always intense. Not until the first of June and up to September first are we entirely free from frosts, free in such a manner that it becomes a certainty, though there is nothing regular about it all, for instance, during Arbor Day cf 1909, it snowed all day and it was a struggle to walk against the wind. During that year the first killing frost occurred the eleventh of October. I have had tulips in full bloom frozen brittle as glass, though this did not impair their blooming. With roses it does not seem to be so much a matter of cold as it is the evaporation they are subject to during winter. At least the behavior of the Crimson Rambler would seem to indicate this. When the canes of this climber are left uncovered they die down to the ground, when, however, laid down and covered with about a foot or more of soil firmly packed the canes come out unharmed in spring. Covering merely with straw or leaves will not answer the purpose. The intense cold of our winters penetrates this soil covering very readily, but the canes are protected against the evaporation of our strong winds and naturally dry climate. Might as well say that most of the apples are not hardy simply because they are grafted. A rose that is not hardy in our climate, unable to endure our occasional stiff winds and the dry cold of our winters is not going to prove any hardier because on its own roots. On the other hand, the wildling roots cover a larger area so to speak are more rugged and consequently better able to resist a drought. After the rose or roses best adapted to the climate have been found, the question resolves itself into one of food, for roses are "some feeders" and stock budded on to the more rugged root will have more food for its blooms than stock on its own roots.
Fargo, N. D.

F. V. Holman, Originator of Portland's Rose Fête, Writes:
When I began to grow roses, more than twenty-five years ago, I purchased small bushes on their own roots and was impressed with the argument that such roses were greatly preferable to budded or grafted bushes. I refer particularly to low-budded bushes which in European catalogues and books are called "dwarfs." But there were some of the finest roses which it is extremely difficult to propagate on their own roots. One of the best examples is Baroness Rothschild.

After I became more experienced in the growing of roses, I changed my opinions altogether and for a great many years I have not purchased any new bushes on their own roots if I could obtain them low-budded or grafted.

The greatest advantage is that on such stock as the canina and others which have an abundance of roots, far more sap is furnished than is furnished by the roots of the varieties themselves. Many varieties of roses have weak roots, and consequently produce but limited qualities of sap. Even bushes which have strong roots of their own seem to grow better when low-budded or grafted on strong stock. When planting dwarf bushes the place of budding or grafting should be put at about three inches beneath the surface of the ground. In the course of time new roots come from this place of juncture, so that the bush has not only the roots of the wild stock, but also its own roots. It is true, that care must be taken that suckers from the wild stock are destroyed in order that all the sap from the roots shall go into the budded stock. Intelligence is necessary even in growing roses.
Portland, Ore.

Part 2