Last week Shirley from Calgary phoned me at CBC radio in Calgary to ask about her Morden rose. It was forming large flower buds but instead of opening up normally the large fluffy buds fall off when she touches them. I was shocked and surprised. I had not heard of this problem - a cause of great excitement for me but obviously not for Shirley. When I was off the air I called Joan Altenhof at the Calgary Rose Society. Joan is one of the many people cooperatively writing the book "Growing Roses in Calgary" so she is in the know.
Joan immediately knew the problem - it is called "Balling" - and it is common in Morden Fireglow roses - so she assumed that Shirley's rose is this cultivar. Joan has solved the problem in her own garden by shovel pruning. If you are not familiar with this drastic measure - in involves digging up and tossing out the plant. Joan has an extensive rose collection and numerous plants in the Morden group and only Fireglow regularly had this problem so obviously this plant is no longer growing in Joan's garden. Sometimes "Balling" is caused by cool spring weather but since it was continuously happening with Morden Fireglow she felt it was just a problem with the plant. Because she has tossed the plant she couldn't send along a Fireglow image so she sent me balling in a different rose. In this photo you will see the flower bud also has Botrytis disease (ie browning) but balling doesn't always lead to Botrytis.