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A rose tree is not really a tree, but a rose bush that has been grafted and trained by the growers into a small tree form. They typically grow from 4-6 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.
Roses that are grown as tree roses are called rose standards.
Growers make a rose standard by grafting a long, leafless rose stem to a hardy rose rootstock. They then graft a flowering rose on top, sometimes using more than one graft to make a full and impressive tree canopy.
These new standards are generally grown for a couple of years in the nursery and pruned to shape before being ready to sell.
Rose Tree Types
There are many types of rose trees, limited only by growers’ choice or creativity. There are three available sizes: standard, miniature, and patio. Two-color rose trees, weeping rose trees, and many other shapes and variations exist.
Are Rose Trees Perennials?
Rose trees are perennials, just like the roses they were created from. In colder areas, they will drop their foliage in the autumn and go through a dormant period before breaking buds in the spring.
How Tall Do Rose Trees Get?
Although it depends on the length of the rose cane used for the trunk, most rose trees grow between 4-6 feet tall at maturity. Miniature and patio varieties are shorter.
How Long Do Rose Trees Live?
Rose standards developed from old roses–rose species and cultivars in existence before 1867, also sometimes called antique roses, can live to be 50 years old.
Modern rose varieties and the rose standards they are used to create often live 6-10 years.
Rose Tree Care And Maintenance
Best Time To Plant Rose Trees
Plant rose trees in early spring when the danger of frost has passed, just like you would plant a rose bush. Your rose tree will need to be staked at the trunk and up in the crown.
Use a non-abrasive material that will have a little stretch. Never use wire or rope. The stake will need to remain in place for the life of the standard, as they are pretty top-heavy compared to their relatively small trunk.
Pruning Rose Trees
Pruning rose trees is easiest during the dormant season when the leaves are off, and you can see the branch forms. Start by removing dead wood, then clean up crossing branches, suckers, and other undesirable forms.
Growing Rose Trees In Pots
Rose trees look stunning in pots and can grow quite well, provided the pot is large enough. Clay or terra cotta pots are recommended. Make sure it has good drainage.
You will need a huge pot, likely the largest one you can find. It should be at least 15 inches in diameter and two feet tall.
The bigger, the better, not only to provide adequate rooting space for your rose tree but also to provide a counterweight to keep your tree rose from tipping over in the wind. Your container-dwelling rose tree will need to be staked, just as if planted out in the garden.
How To Winterize Rose Trees
Tree roses are grafted on hardy rootstock, but they can still benefit from a deep layer of mulch to protect the graft union during the winter.
If you live in a cold area, you may need to build a column of mulch as tall as your rose tree, using chicken wire or other fencing material to hold it together. Fill it with straw or leaves before bitter weather arrives, and carefully remove it in spring.
If your rose tree is in a container, consider bringing it inside to an unheated attached garage or other sheltered places where the winter temperatures won’t get quite as low.