Freak roses puzzle growers — blame cold nights

2008-08-28 00:00

A Chase Valley woman could not believe her eyes when she found that her rose bush had produced two flowers that had small buds sticking through the centre of blooms.

Naseema Naidoo told The Witness that she noticed the peculiar flowers a few days ago when she went to look at her rose bush, which is in a pot by her gate.

“I was totally bamboozled.”

Her other rose bush was unaffected. She has not given the affected rose bush any special attention other than watering it.

Naidoo makes sugar flowers and a botanist advises her how to make them botanically correct.

“I asked her if she had ever seen something like this, but she was also bamboozled,” said Naidoo.

Pretoria rose expert Halmar Taschner of Ludwig’s Roses said the phenomenon, referred to as “phyllody”, is known to rose growers as “bull-nosed blooms”, a form of which “is a curiosity when instead of stamens and pistils a new stem grows out of the centre of a bloom, anything between five and 10 cm, forming a new flower with sepals and some leaves on top of it”.

Taschner advised gardeners who encounter it not to be alarmed, because it does not mean the plant is diseased.

Phyllody was described by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet, also an astute botanical observer in 1790.

Taschner ascribes the phenomenon to plant hormones being out of balance. “In roses, we know that bull-nose blooms appear mostly during the spring flush on varieties with a very full petal count.”

The deformation happens at the end of August, he said, in cold nights and hot days when the bud is formed. Cold nights induce an abnormal production of the hormones responsible for bigger cells and longer stems. The rose produces fewer deformed buds as night temperatures rise.

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