You noticed the leaves on your rose turned yellow and drastically began to fall off few weeks after you bought it. You’ve been watering and feeding your rose well but when yellowing worsens, you wondered if you’ve done enough or done too much. Worst, you started to blame yourself for not having the ‘green thumbs’ or being bad at gardening.
Yellowing of leaves happens to most of us in the beginning of rose growing. In some cases, the leaves dry up and even the younger ones wither prematurely.
If you are like me, you probably have tried few methods to save this rose you just bought. You’ve probably started off by modifying your feeding and watering. If these didn’t work, you changed the soil too and tried everything else your hunches told you.
Right Photo: Good green leaves and new shoots indicate good start/recovery.
When all efforts failed miserably with the ending result was death, you made up your mind. You concluded that roses are simply too hard to grow than most flowers (conforming to what most people believe and now that you’ve experienced it!), that rose growing is not for you, that you will never grow rose again, and worst, that you’re not a good gardener!
Understanding why leaves turn yellow?
Always is, think a rose as any other plants in your garden. Better still, a living breathing thing. Why the leaves turn yellow? What triggers a shed-off of leaves in plants anyway?
To answer these questions, let’s just look at our own body. When we fall sick, the first thing our body does is cooking a fever, which is a signal that our body is fighting off whatever sickness that’s invading. It’s our immune system in charge, increases our body temperature to kill off any lethal viruses.
What plants do is they shed off their leaves. It’s their way of defending themselves by conserving whatever energy they have left as well as signaling us that they are either sick or under awful stress.
You may have treated the rose wrongly by not giving enough water or too much water, or feeding too much in that first few weeks but put that aside first since leaf yellowing is symptomatic of a variety of problems.
Common drastic yellowing of leaves few weeks after purchase is often due to great stress.
So, what causes my rose to stress up?
Well, you have to see where your roses are coming from; I don’t mean that literally but physically.
I am sure you bought your rose from a nursery, a garden retailer or a shopping complex. No matter where you got it, the fact is, it didn’t originate from your garden.
This means that your rose has undergone a few shifts of places; the place it was cultivated, the transportation, the place you bought it from, and last - your home.
In short, your rose underwent changes of micro-climate; as at each places it went, the micro-climate it experienced differs. Being your house was the last place and for a longer duration; it tried to adapt the most.
If your rose came from a place cooler such as Cameron Highlands, (which I term this type of roses as ‘high-land roses’) then the level of stress this rose had was a lot greater. This is known as heat stress, that is when transition from cold to warm temperature is sudden.
What should I do?
What you should do is to concentrate on easing this heat or transition stress, instead of dwelling with watering, feeding or forcing your roses to flower and etc. The rose survival is your main priority!
There are a few things that you should do;
- Importantly, do the ‘hardening’ process.
- Watering your plant well, as drought stress can cause even severe stress. Since roses that you buy are often new young plants, they do not have sufficient time to establish root systems for supporting leaf transpiration when being placed at warmer temperature. Water demand therefore is greater.
- Do not feed your rose just yet; not until it stabilizes. You may choose to fertilize lightly or better still exercise foliar feeding. Coupled with lack of water, fertilizing can be lethal.
- Shade your rose or give protection from the hot direct sun, as intense heat can be too much at this time. Sun screen is good, but don’t forget to give your rose few hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Cut off any buds or flowers to help conserve its energy to survive, rather than to flower. This will promote new canes and leaves as well as assist to establish the root system.
- Keep a lot of foliage and most of the foliage left. Plant is always at its best health when they have vigorous foliage.
- Do early detection of pests or diseases. Sick rose can’t stand stress well.
- Avoid re-potting too just yet! You don’t want to add transplant shock on top of the transition shock/heat stress, do you?
- Lastly, if you wish to eliminate this problem at all. Choose the right rose! ‘Low-land roses’ will give you less hassle as there’s not much of adapting to do. Low-land roses will most likely survive in your garden and thus are perfect for rose growing beginners.
So, now that you know; I know now you worry less and may even buy a new rose soon and start anew.
Good luck to you! The rose and you will be just fine.
“A bad gardener doesn't intentionally kill plants, only a misinformed and an ignorant one does”
– Rough Rosa