‘Etna’ moss rose recovery

Judith Adam

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‘Etna’ moss rose bloom and buds. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
‘Etna’ moss rose bloom and buds. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
‘Etna’ moss rose bloom and buds. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)

From the department of small miracles comes the good news that my ‘Etna’ moss rose has finally sprouted buds. I was sure it was entirely dead, having been tricked into early growth, then checked by frost. The first set of red buds on all four canes dried up and turned brown.

Despairing over the loss of my favourite rose (one I’ve had in the garden for 10 years), I still kept some hope and trowelled about a cup of Epsom salts into the soil over its roots, and kept it well watered. The Epsom salts are not a fertilizer, but contain magnesium and sulfur, elements which usually trigger basal canes to grow. But, of course, a plant must be alive to respond to the treatment, and I wasn’t sure that ‘Etna’ had any living tissue left.

The response has been enthusiastic, and every cane has shoots and new leaves opening. I’ve now given it a granular fertilizer, and look forward to a flower display sometime in mid July—six weeks late, and just in time for the Japanese beetles! No matter, I’m so pleased to see it recover with so much vigour. The second ‘Etna’ rose that I planted last year for insurance is just about to open a few flowers, so I’ll have the best of both plants. I noticed the nursery that supplied these roses no longer lists ‘Etna’, so I might be wise to learn something about propagating roses this summer. This gardener needs to learn some new tricks.

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