Watershoots vs Suckers
Watershoots and Suckers are the tall canes which can be seen growing upright on your rose plant. They are often thicker than the normal canes and can grow to excessive heights. Water shoots are beneficial to the structure of the rose, but Suckers need to be removed or they will take over your plant. As they look very similar, it can be confusing whether to cut them out or let them grow.
Water shoots (aka basal shoots) are new growth that occurs from the bud union or graft. They will have the same foliage and flowers as the remainder of the plant.
Water shoots are the new main stems or structure of the rose. This is the growth we want to encourage.
Water shoots can often grow very tall and tower over the remainder of the rose. This is especially noticeable in the first year after planting. It is also very common to occur during Autumn.
If your rose is producing very tall water shoots, try staking them to offer some support. You could also cut them down to be level with the remainder of the plant.
If your rose is established and continually producing very long water shoots, it may indicate that the rose is not getting enough sunlight or that it is being over fed.
While suckers also produce very long, tall growth, you will often notice the foliage and flowers are different to your rose. However, there is exception to this as foliage may appear similar in some root stock varieties. (Please note that the old rule of 7 leaflets is not always correct. Some rose varieties can occasionally produce 7 leaflets on water shoots, and some rootstock varieties only have 5.)
The best way to assess if the growth is a sucker, is to look at where it originates. Suckers occur from below the graft and mostly appear from below the soil. If the stem comes from anywhere below the graft, it is a sucker and will need to be removed.
For more information on the cause of suckers and how to remove them, click here.
If you are in doubt as to if the growth is a watershoot or sucker, take a photo of the rose (include a photo of the graft) and email us.