Runaway roses might need some outside guidance

Runaway roses might need some outside guidance

Tracey FitzgibbonQ. I have two Lady Banks roses, about 22 years old. Most of the canes are over 15 feet tall and some are climbing over the roof of my house. Yes, I made the mistake of not doing my homework and planting them in inconvenient spots.

Now, they’ve become a nuisance. While nothing brings me more delight in the spring when these monsters bloom (they bloom profusely), I am having issues controlling them. How damaging would it be to severely prune these two back to heights of 5-to-6-feet?

Will it affect next year’s bloom? Should I only prune the wayward canes and try to keep the more obedient ones? I’m not sure which are new canes and which are old wood except that the original trunks of the roses are peeling like old trees. Thank you. – S.S.

A. Like you, I am always happy when I see a bank of this type rose in bloom. The usually graceful arching canes that have masses with either cheerful pastel yellow or white blooms that are, like you say, a delight.

I’ve never grown a Lady Banks but it sure sounds like you’ve got it going on, getting them to the age and heights you’ve mentioned.

On that note I’m going to suggest that on the internet you search for the Albuquerque Rose Society, The site lists “Consulting Rosarians” with several member names and contact information. The blurb says, and I quote, “Any one of these members will be happy to answer your questions about growing better roses in our Albuquerque area.”

These are a group of folks that adore roses and could offer guidance on how to best to tend your Lady Banks.

I’m not suggesting that any one of these folks is going to come and do the maintenance work for you, they’ll offer verbal guidance.

With that, I hope you consult with a bunch of people that will better guide you on how you can get your “monsters” back in hand and keep them healthy for years to come.

Q. I know you really like redbud trees, but am curious if you have any other favorite blooming trees that grow good here. – J.N., Albuquerque

A. You are correct in knowing that the redbud is my number one favorite blooming tree. They are such a visual marvel to me.

Yes, I do have two other favorite blooming trees that I really enjoy seeing bloom here in the metro.

The first is the tree known as a mimosa or silk tree (Albizia julibrissin). Although the mimosa doesn’t create deep shade, it is dappled enough the you can still garden beneath one and make a lovely space. It’s the flowers that are a joy to me. As soon as it warms, the mimosa throws out these feathery pink, powder puff shaped, delicate looking flowers. So very pretty. Another advantage is that hummingbirds enjoy feeding from the mimosa’s blooms.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but the small leaves tend to fold up at night too.

The next favorite of mine is the vitex or chaste tree. You know it’s gotten warm here when all of a sudden you see these usually mulit-trunk trees awash with skinny, upward spiked, long pyramidal-shaped blooms.

The flower colors offered on this cool grey leaf colored tree have a true wow factor. You can find the vitex that’ll have pale lilac shade blooms through to the most vivid, near vibrating, purple color you’ve ever seen. I like to pluck leaves from the vitex and roll them between my fingers as they have a sort of antiseptic scent to them. The vitex offers lots of blooming color.

Thanks for asking about my favorites and keep your eyes open to spot any of these charmers growing in these parts.

Happy Fourth of July and stay safe while you’re out there Diggin’ In.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to


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