With Fortuniana rootstock, roses grow big and beautiful

I heard about it for the first time fortuniana Rootstock at a Rose Society meeting a few years ago. The moderator, Rosary Master Dona Martin, told us that rose plants were grafted fortuniana Rootstocks grow taller than grafted roses dr huey or on their own root. That piqued my interest. Then she said that the flowers continued to grow fortuniana Rootstocks were more plentiful and also bigger and better. Wait! What? She had us all on “plentiful, bigger and better” buds. You could have heard a pin drop as we all listened intently to learn more about this magical rootstock. Did we dare to believe it?

fortuniana is a very large, vigorous climbing rose, also known as ‘Double Cherokee’. Believed to be a cross between two giant roses, ‘White Lady Banks’. (Pink Banksia) and ‘Cherokee Rose’ (Rosa laevigata). The shady circular patio area at the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park is covered in this rampant vine. named after Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveler. Fortune is best known for sending around 250 new ornamental plants – mainly from China but also Japan – to the Royal Horticultural Society in London. He discovered the rose flower in Ninghpo, China around 1840.

fortuniana grows 12 to 20 feet. The nearly 2-inch flowers are fragrant, white, and very double. The almost thornless canes have leaves that are open like that Banksias, but larger and shinier than ‘Cherokee Rose’. This disease-resistant rose also thrives in poor, dry, sandy soil. It is assumed that Rosa fortuniana was introduced to America and Australia around 1903. The earliest mention of its use as a rootstock was in Perth, Australia, in 1903 by a rose grower.

‘Beverly’ grafted to Fortuniana rootstock sent out 6 foot skirts in the first six months. It was fenced into a pillar structure.

Homegrown roses refer to roses that have grown from their own roots. Homegrown roses do not perform equally well in all parts of the country. This is one of the reasons why roses are sprout on rootstocks. The rootstock chosen must be well adapted to the region, local soil types, pH tolerances, diseases and climatic conditions. Multiflowered pink does not show its best performance in alkaline soils and is the underlay most commonly chosen for colder climates. manetti is the base most commonly used for florist flowers. In our region is the most commonly used underlay dr huey In Florida and the Southeast, underlay is chosen fortuniana. This is because very few self-rooted roses can adapt to very light, well-drained, high-temperature soils. In addition, most Florida soils are infested with many species of nematodes. A rose that is not resistant to these pests will not thrive on its own roots. fortuniana Rootstock thrives well in sandy soils, it is very resilient to the nematodes that inhabit these soils and can thrive in hot and humid conditions and is the most salt tolerant rootstock.

Roses grafted fortuniana develop a shallow but massive, vigorous, fibrous root system that spreads horizontally up to 6 to 17 feet from the bud junction. Especially in sandy soils, this extensive root system is of great benefit and is instrumental in efficiently delivering water and nutrients to the plant, resulting in faster growth and the production of more buds.

Ungrafted pink 'Beverly' is currently at the predicted height of 3 feet.

Ungrafted pink ‘Beverly’ is currently at the predicted height of 3 feet.

(Rita Perwich)

In her presentation, Martin quoted Samuel McFadden, an ornamental gardener from the University of Florida who started grafting fortuniana in the early 1960s. His tests on hybrid teas showed that the varieties formed buds fortuniana produced about three times as many flowers as these roses budded R. multifloraand twice as many as the buds up dr huey. Martin grew roses in both Arizona and Escondido. Roses have grown in their experience fortuniana had remarkable resilience to heat stress and had a growth rate three times that of other roses in the first year. Martin told us that a rose has grown fortuniana could have five times as many feeding roots and a root mass that could be six times larger than an established rose dr huey

I was curious and had to try a few things fortuniana grafted roses. They are not available from local nurseries and you must specifically order these roses online from specialist nurseries. I ordered ‘Playgirl’ and ‘Oh My!’ by K&M Nursery (kandmroses.com) in Bucatunna, Miss., in 2019. The roses are shipped in small pots because of their fibrous root system. The roses grew well and yes, the blooms were plentiful.

In 2020 I decided to do an experiment. I ordered ‘Savannah’ and ‘Beverly’ from K&M. I also ordered ‘Savannah’ and ‘Beverly’. grown on their own root from Heirloom Roses. Martin wasn’t exaggerating. Kordes, the breeder of ‘Savannah’ and ‘Beverly’ describes the height of each of these roses as 3 to 4 feet. The native root roses grew to 3 feet as predicted. That fortuniana Roses sent out 6- to 7-foot canes for the first six months.

'Savannah' is a heavily scented Kordes hybrid tea rose that is beautiful and very disease resistant.

‘Savannah’ is a strongly scented Kordes hybrid tea rose that is beautiful and very disease resistant.

(Rita Perwich)

What to expect from roses grafted onto Fortuniana rootstock

  • The rose bush will grow taller, produce more leaves and therefore more flowers.
  • You need to water and fertilize over a larger area and beyond the rose bush’s drip line.
  • You don’t have to dig a deep hole to plant a rose grafted onto this rootstock. You must plant the budding compound above ground or the rose will revert to its own roots.
  • fortunianaGrafted roses tend to send out stolons that need to be removed, but the tiny, narrow rose petals on one fortuniana Suction cups are very easy to distinguish from the rest of the foliage on the rose bush.
  • Don’t cut these roses heavily and no deeper than waist high as the massive root system requires a lot of energy when new growth begins.
    A small and a tall rose bush grow side by side.  One is grown on its own rootstock;  the large one, on Fortuniana rootstock.

    The large pink rose in the center is a 1 year old ‘Savannah’ who grew up on it Fortuniana rootstock. The short pink rose right next to it is a 1 year old ‘Savannah’ grown on its own rootstock.

    (Rita Perwich)

  • You have to reckon with a larger rose and space accordingly. I planted ‘Beverly’ along a sidewalk by mistake and had to rein in her enthusiastic growth into a columnar structure.
  • You need to stake these taller roses because of their shallow growing roots.
  • Be aware that these roses cannot be successfully transplanted due to the extensive root system.
  • You may not find all the varieties you want to graft fortuniana rootstock. You will probably spend more on these roses and shipping them.

fortuniana-grafted roses generally do very well in San Diego. They’re not easy to find, but for some of us, it’s well worth the hunt and the extra expense for this new “must-have” pad.

Perwich is a member of the San Diego Rose Society, a Consulting Rosarian, and a Master Gardener with UC Cooperative Extension.

Editor’s note: Rita Perwich was recently named a 2022 Outstanding Consulting Rosarian for the Pacific Southwest District by the American Rose Society, which includes the 27 rose societies in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

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