Regardless of what the tag says, plant
the bump on the stem of rose bushes at least 5 cm below the soil
'Miss Canada' rose adopted by the Canadian Nursery Trades
Association to celebrate Canada's Centennial in 1967. Controversy
surrounded the entire topic."
remember the first section of this was written in October, 1999!
almost a decade now many of the thousands of rose bushes sold not only in
major home and garden store outlets, but also in retail nurseries and
garden centres, have featured a colourful printed tag. That tag is often
very controversial! Its purpose is to identify the cultivar with a colour
photo, and on the reverse, advise the purchaser on just how to plant the
of the origin of the bush or bushes, the tags for virtually all rose
bushes sold in Canada (the only exception would be lower mainland British
Columbia and the Gulf and Vancouver Islands) should advise planting the
bud union--the traditional “bump on the stem”--at least 5 cm (2
inches) below ground. In the coldest parts of the country, on the Prairies
for example, it is often recommended to plant rose bushes with the bud
union 13 cm (5”) below the ground level.
that’s not what one reads on many of the rose bush labels--and not just
labels on bushes coming here from the U.S. In fact, I regret to tell you
that even after years of harping about this, I am still finding Canadian
wholesale nurseries (the growing nursery that actually buys and attaches
the tags to the bushes) that use tags with instructions not at all
suitable to the Canadian climate. One example is from Enderlein in
south-western Ontario, that shows in two places “Enderlein Canadian
Grown”, and makes still a third “Grown in Canada” statement on their
tags. And yet, on the back it says (and shows) “Set top of rootball so
that bud union is above ground level.” Another grower in the St.
Catharines area, who is known for good quality stock, has their tags with
a similar miss-statement, but has already taken steps to correct the
referring here to tags that are supposed to help novice growers.
They are produced and printed in Canada, used on Canadian-grown rose
bushes, grown for Canadians, and yet they have instructions that are dead
the care tags that come on rose bushes grown in the U.S. by large growers
such as Weeks, have the correct information for the Canadian (and northern
U.S.) climate. Why then are Canadian growers short-changing their own
asked this question of Andy Enderlein and his response was that they as
rose growers believe that rose bushes will produce more and better “shoots”
or canes, if the bud union is NOT planted below ground. Of course, it goes
without saying, the more canes, the more flowers. And, he says, that all
hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora bushes should be hilled up in most
of the country anyway, so that mound will cover the bud union for the
winter. He also added that the reason they got into growing bushes near
Creemore, Ontario in the first place was to produce hardy, Canadian-grown
I told Andy that I had to take the side of the members of the Canadian
Rose Society (CRS). My only compromise would be this. They say on their
tags to plant the bushes with the bud union 5 cm below the soil surface.
They could then add that superior performance may be
achieved if the union is planted just above ground, but in that case, the
bushes absolutely must be hilled up each winter--no exceptions.
didn’t get a positive response to this latter suggestion from CRS
members. They still strongly support the planting of the bud unions below
ground level, and point out the successes of their members all across the
country. Paul Graber of the CRS does suggest each spring it is easy to
develop a concave around the stem of each bush simply using pressure from
the water hose. In this way it is possible to expose (partially) the
buried bud union for the encouragement of new shoots.
Enderlein agreed that new and novice growers having repeated failures,
whether due to inferior (for our climate) U.S.-produced bushes, or
following controversial and incorrect information on the accompany tag,
does a disservice to the nursery industry. That’s not the way for them
to sell more rose bushes to my way of thinking!
response to this was a letter from Enderlein, which included the following
“We are outraged with the opinions expressed by Art Drysdale in his
column “Last Word” in the October edition of Plant & Garden.
This column addressed the issue of garden rose picture tags for Canada…..
is very unfortunate that the views of Mr. Drysdale and others have forced
Enderlein Nurseries and some other Canadian growers to change the planting
instructions on their picture tags. In 2000, the tag will advise gardeners
to plant the bud union below ground level.
want to assure your readership that Enderlein Nurseries has not
misinformed them in any way. Our rose planting and care instructions are
correct and have proven to be successful for nearly 20 years, both at our
rose nursery and in our gardens at home. As a progressive and ethical
company, we take every measure to ensure that our customers are completely
satisfied with our product and service. In future articles, Mr. Drysdale
should exercise better judgement and refrain from such harsh, unwarranted
Arnd and Jorg Enderlein
Owner/Operators, Enderlein Nurseries
finally, my “last word on the topic” from the same issue:
Harsh yes, but not unwarranted. Methinks Messrs. Enderlein doth protest
because they have finally been “forced” to do something with which
they disagree, but which is widely acknowledged will help average Canadian
gardeners replace fewer rose bushes each year.
“others” mentioned are astute members of the Canadian Rose Society
who, since 1913 have been promoting the proper planting procedure for
budded roses to be placing the bud union at 5 cm below ground level.
international and world-renowned rose hybridizers and growers such as
Harkness in Britain, Meilland in France and Kordes in Germany, and now
even the Royal National Rose Society in Britain, ALL recommend planting
the bud union below ground level.
Art C. Drysdale
6 Nesbitt Drive
Toronto, ON M4W 2G3