strange unwanted hybrid

Help! I hope I can explain the problem so someone will answer me. I’ve got three “blue boy” rose bushes. They flower with a fragrant violet colored rose. Well, they did until last year. Now I’ve got these ugly little red roses with little leaves growing everywhere and taking over the bush. It’s like a hostile takeover and it’s upsetting to watch. Is there anything I can do so save my blue boys?

Sounds as though Dr. Huey (rootstock rose) has taken over. Resistance is futile if none of the larger leaves and mauve flowers are to be found. Maybe the “Blue Boy” (one of the varieties sold as Blue Boy, anyway) got frozen out this winter? Check the link below and see if this is your red rose.



If you have both Blue Boy and Dr. Huey growing in the same plant, you can cut back all of the Dr. Huey canes below ground level.

Thanks so much for your reply. There are still some large leaves and even a few “Blue Boy/Girl” roses on the bush. Is this common? Do I dig up the bush and start over?

Chris, dig carefully to where the suckers come off the root. If you can expose the point of attachment and it is on the main vertical rootstock, either wrap the sucker in cloth or wear gloves (or do both) and try to strip the sucker off the root by pulling it downward or, if you have room for your foot, holding the sucker firmly and stepping on it right next to the root. It would be good to remove the outer layer for about 1/4" back from where the sucker tears off. This will get rid of the lateral buds at the base of the sucker. Let the wound air-dry, and wipe it with a mild bleach solution, before you put the soil back.

If the sucker is coming off one of the lateral roots and that root is not the only one, it might be sensible simply to cut the root above the sucker, and dig/pull out the piece with the sucker. Remember to treat the point (as above) where the root was removed–root gall is more likely when roots are wounded.

It’s better to strip off the sucker because if you remove the growth and the lateral buds at its base, the sucker is not likely to come back.

Regardless of which you choose to do (cut off the suckers or strip them off the rootstock), you might want to root some cuttings as insurance against loss of the bush.