Rose Replant Sickness

Looking to replant a rose bush, but scared off by gardeners who warn against the practice? Here's the truth about replanting and rose sickness

There’s a stigma around the rose replant, but is it a genuine concern?

Q: We have a rose bush in our garden that I do not like (previous owners planted). It never does well there, has no fragrance, and overall looks sickly. I would like to replace it with another rose (shrub), but have been told not to plant a new rose plant in the same location as the old.

What should I plant to fill the space until it is ready to be replaced with a rose, how long should I wait, and what species would you recommend? I live in the western Fraser Valley outside of the city of Vancouver. The location of the rose bush is on the east side of our home, and receives approximately six hours of sunlight during the warm season.

“Rose replant” or “sickness” is a belief by rosarians that the soil surrounding the original rose plant may contain organisms or compounds that inhibit the regrowth of roses in the same spot.

While there is no concrete scientific evidence to support this, rosarians suggest not replanting another rose in that location for anywhere from two to five years, or alternatively removing the old soil down to a depth of about 30 cm (12 inches) and replacing it with fresh soil.

As for what species of rose you should plant, nothing is bulletproof – what you gain from one you lose for another. For example, it might be disease-free but lacking in fragrance.

Based on the Vancouver Rose Society list for disease-free choices, I suggest: ‘Savoy Hotel’ (light pink), ‘Warm Wishes/Sunset Celebration’ (apricot), ‘Easy Going’ (yellow blend), ‘Fellowship/Livin Easy’ (orange blend), ‘Flower Carpet’ (deep pink) or ‘Knock Out’ (red blend).

Check your gardening magazine for upcoming rose shows.