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Fortuniana, the Florida rootstock

By Geoff Coolidge, Consulting Rosarian

Most modern roses do not do well grown on their own root system. They are much slower to mature, if at all, and are susceptible to diseases and nematodes in the soil. Therefore, most roses are grafted onto a hardier root system. The most common rootstock is called Dr. Huey. It is easy to work with and will grow in most areas of the country. It is a one size fits all type rootstock used by most large scale rose growers. You will find rose bushes with Dr. Huey rootstock in most garden centers and large home improvement retailers like Home Depot.

But in the early 1940’s a professor at the University of Florida began working with a new rootstock called Fortuniana. This new rootstock proved to be an excellent choice for our more tropical environment. Roses grown on Fortuniana rootstock matured faster, produced more flowers and were resistant to diseases of the root, as well as attacks from soil borne nematodes. Fortuniana roses are able to thrive in our very wet summers and also in out dry winters. Fortuniana produces very large fibrous roots that are able to absorb more water and fertilizer than the “tap root” type roots produced by the Dr. Huey rootstock. The Dr. Huey root system is better suited for clay soils that do not drain like the sandy soils we have in South Florida . Because Fortuniana root stock roses have shallow-growing fibrous roots, you must stake your roses to prevent them from blowing over during periods of high wind. Next time you buy a rose bush, ask for Fortuniana rootstock roses, you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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