How to Tell If a Rose Bush Is Alive or Dead

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A rose bush typically has some amount of dead material on it, but by examining the color underneath the outer bark you can tell whether the bush itself remains alive. A gardening expert explains in this free video on growing roses.

Part of the Video Series: Growing Roses
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Stan DeFreitas, Mr. Green Thumb for askmrgreenthumb.com. How do you know if a rose is alive or dead? Almost all roses eventually have some die back or dying parts on them. And sometimes, you'll have a whole rose that may look like it's dead or dying. Get your clippers out or get your pocket knife out, and start to scrape along the outer bark where you have some dead material. If there's no green underneath the outer bark, if there's no green in the cambium layer, it's dead. And you are going to have to trim back until you find live wood. Normally, you want to trim back into good, live wood. And you can see we trimmed it back here, this little branch was dead. But underneath it, it's good and alive. So, trim back to good green in the cambium, and you can kind of peel back with your little clippers or with your knife until you find that good green area. The good green cambium tells you that you have a live, active rose bush. Sometimes, it will be down the stem, sometime it may even be to the trunk of the rose. By checking it, you'll find out if your rose is alive or dead. For finding more information on how to check your roses, of course, I'm Stan DeFreitas, Mr. Green Thumb for askmrgreenthumb.com.

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