Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Multiflora Rose Search and Destroy

Now that I’ve cleaned up the large patches of Multiflora Rose, I’m hunting individual bushes. Multiflora Rose greens up early in the year and the combination of green canes and new bright green growth makes them easy to spot.
If the cut bushes are manageable and there’s a brush pile nearby, I’ll haul the cut canes off for proper disposal. This insures that I won’t end up with a nasty rose cane wrapped around my leg the next time I walk through here. There have been times in the past when I’ve had the cut canes leap from the grass and snare me in all manner of places. You could almost imagine an intelligence in the attacking canes, akin to the freshly killed movie monster that springs suddenly back to life.
A red flag identifies the cut stump as needing a herbicide treatment in the future. I could leave the canes to decompose in place, but I like to see the roses gone.
A different tactic is needed for large sprawling rose bushes. To crawl beneath the canes to cut the bush at the stump is to risk being permanently ensnared in the prickly tangle. I’ve never actually been so tangled that I couldn’t get myself free, but the amount of blood loss severely limits the number of times you can do this in one day.
It’s safer to do your cutting from a distance. I’ve found that a standard pole pruning saw works perfectly for this job. The saw is designed for reaching into trees and pruning branches. It works just as well in a horizontal position cutting rose canes from their stump. It only takes a couple of pulls to sever the bunch and if the canes collapse around the stump, the saw is easily extracted.
I toss a flag into the center of the mess to make it easier to find when I come back to spray the sprouts. These canes have all been cut, but they were so intricately intertwined that none changed position. The cut canes all point to the base from which they were cut, so leaving them in place makes it a simple matter to find all of the sprouts that need treatment. It’s nice to have the large rose thickets destroyed, so I can put my energy to finding and eradicating the last of the bushes.


  1. I've never doubted the intelligence of a multiflora l rose bush. I'll always remember my country husband's look of horror when his new city-bred wife brought in a lovely bouquet of wild roses for our dinner table. I have since reached a compromise - hate the growth and love the bloom. I, too cut them down as they grab at my jeans. I like your pole saw idea.

  2. Well, that was very helpful. I have a spot in the corner of the garden where the wild roses have taken over. I am quite sure they were the base of tea roses that have gone wild on their own when the grafted tea roses died back. I'll try the tree pruner to get in there to get rid of them.... Thanks.

  3. Hey Steve,

    Have you entertained using a Triclopyr BEE solution? You could kill the roses with a basal bark treatment (no cutting nessesary) or you could treat cut stumps. Either way you could get everything done at once, potentailly eliminating the flagging and revisting the sprouts.

  4. Hi, Nellie. I also like the bloom and the fragrance, even though the sight of a big blooming bush can really aggravate me.

    You're probably right about the multiflora rose root stalk, Lois. This used to be the most common species used for grafting hybrid tea roses.

    Hi, David. I have looked into using a Triclopyr BEE solution, but I've had some doubts about using it here. I'm concerned about the studies that showed the active ingredient penetrating the soil to a depth 12 inches before becoming bound to clay or organic particles. Many of my areas have less than 12 inches of soil overlaying bedrock, so I'm concerned about the possibility of contamination of the ground water. Many of my roses and other invasive woodies are growing along side native trees and shrubs. A mishap with the spray wand could easily treat a nontarget shrub. I also wonder if the active chemical moving 12 inches into the ground could dose nontarget species through the intermingled root systems. Also, I use a limited amount of herbicide each year and making one chemical fit all needs keeps me from having a shelf full of aging chemicals. There are many chemicals to choose from and I encourage people to choose what best fits the needs of their particular situation.

  5. Any ideas on de-graping a woodland opening? I've gone through it a few times during the winter with a chain saw and cut as many vines where they originate from the ground as possible, but I never seem to make a dent in the drape that develops over the small trees trying to establish. I guess I need to go back through in spring and spray the resprouts? Glyphosate?

  6. Hi, Ted. I've been successful at eliminating grape vines by spraying the sprouts with glyphosate. Timing is critical since it seems like the sprout can turn into a 6 foot vine in just a few days. Grapes really respond to pruning. I've cut some that I forgot to spray later and they turned into real monsters - a dozen vines where once there was one. Good Luck.