Easy Way to Get Long Stem Roses From Your Own Garden

Back when I first started to plant roses, I coveted the long-stem roses sold in stores. I could not understand why my roses would not grow on such long, straight stems.

Long stem rose from garden

I did what every nerdy gardener would do: I searched the Internet for answers. All I could find were articles about how to deadhead roses or how to properly prune them for growth. Nothing on the Internet taught how to grow gorgeous long-stem roses in one’s own garden.

For those of you who do not know, deadheading a rose simply means cutting the spent flower off the stem. You cut relatively close to the dead flower, counting only about two or three leaves down. After the cut, a new stem will grow from the bud eye where the existing stem and the leaf meet, and another flower will grow from that new stem. Unfortunately, flowers produced this way all have shorter stems. You can put them in a bud vase, but not much more than that.

There were also plenty of articles on how to properly prune roses. To prune, cut fairly low to the rose bush. You only prune once a year, either in winter when the roses are dormant or just before the roses bud out in the spring. You cut to thin the branches and maybe cut out the older canes to let new canes grow.

I studiously deadheaded and pruned as directed but still could not get long stem roses. Then I noticed that the first rose of the year after pruning usually grew from a fairly straight stem and did look like the long stem roses in flower shops. After I deadhead, however, I only got thinner, shorter stems.

So I began to cut my roses more like a prune than a deadhead. I went all the way down the cane and counted up maybe three or four bud eyes. Then I cut at the eye that faced outward from the bush. What I got were long stem roses. Every time.

I suspect this type of cutting is hard on a rose bush because it must produce a long cane every time it flowers. I fertilized mine every 2-3 months, made sure I watered well, and did not notice any decline in the rose bush’s vigor in the at least 4-5 years I pruned my roses this way. Rose quality did decline as the summer got hotter (we have 100+ degree days) but rebounded when the temperature dropped in the fall. This suggests that the decline in flower quality was related more to the temperature than the stress of the cuts I made.

This technique only works with hybrid tea roses. For the red roses, I’ve had the best result with Mr. Lincoln. I tried Chrysler Imperial last year, and it worked well too. For white roses, Pope John Paul II worked for me, but I haven’t tried other white roses.

Laziness Scale

This method of getting long-stem roses is Lazy Worthy.  If you grow roses, you are already either using them as cut flowers or have to deadhead them after the bloom is spent. This method simply cuts lower on the bush so it does not require more time. If you like long-stem roses in your house, then you can get free ones instead of having to go buy them. Because this method saves you money and does not increase the time you need to spend to take care of your roses, this method is Lazy Worthy.

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