Peeling Rose Bark & Poison Oak Security Barrier

Question:

 I have several old roses in planters. The bark on one of them has been peeling off for several years. You can touch it, and the bark drops off. Another rose nearby, looks as though it has the same problem. Is this problem contagious? I can't find any references to this problem in any of my gardening books.

Answer:

  • Peeling bark may or may not be a problem.
  • The bark on older roses will naturally peel off below the bud union very easily. The bud union is where a rose is grafted on to a rootstock. As long as the tissue in this area is showing no noticeable discoloration, I would not be overly concerned.
  • You should carefully inspect any areas above the graft if they are peeling. Rose canes that are damaged by sunburn or from a physical injury may peel. The problem areas will turn a dark or black color and can be an entry point for borers.
  • Borers will not attack healthy tissue. You would locate the Borers by scraping the bark with a knife as they are right under the surface. The borers are white or amber-colored, usually linear in shape and are easily seen with the naked eye. The simplest way to treat the problem is to prune out the affected canes. 

Question:

I would like to plant Poison Oak around the perimeter of my yard. We've been robbed several times with the bad guys going under the fence. Any idea where I can buy it? I would use cactus, but it takes too long to grow.      

Answer:

  •  Sorry, but I don't know of a local source of Poison Oak plants. Also, I couldn't find any listing on the internet.
  • I'm not sure this is the right answer to your problem as the Poison Oak rash wouldn't show up for days.
  • Instead, I'd consider planting Pyracantha, Xylosma, Barberry, or Climbing Roses as a barrier. These plants are thorny and would make an immediate impact as an intruder tried to cross it. Also, they're faster growing than cactus and a lot prettier.