Bending the graft-wood from the base will induce development of basal- or ground shoots, forming the structure of the plant for flower production.

Apical Dominance

New sprouts in rose plants develop from the topmost point of any part of the plant. This means that if we want to have ground shoots from the basis of the graft, all branches and leaves have to be bent below that point.

Other Factors

For getting good ground shoots, the plant has to be in a good condition, i.e. healthy leaves, no deficiency, no pests or diseases. The plant should have a length of 1.5 feet and a good number of branches or a main branch with side shoots and 20-25 healthy leaves. Then bending can be done.

The growing-conditions also have to be optimal, i.e. appropriate supply of water and fertilizers, low light, good air humidity (>60%) and high humidity at the basis of the plants, hence moist top soil.

The Bending Technique

The stem is twisted 180 to 300 degrees just above the basis and simultaneously it is bent down gradually and slowly. For this the fingers from one hand hold the basis of the stem from the graft tightly to avoid any breakage and the other hand does the twisting and bending. Twisting is necessary to avoid breaking of the stem while bending. Some skin damage may occur, but breaking of the stem would put off the whole bending process. In this case, the plant, if surviving, will need two to three months to recover from this accident! If the stems are very hard or brittle it is better to squeeze the stem somewhat with small pliers at the point where it is bent. Wrap the tip of the pliers with some tape to avoid damage to the skin of the branch.

The branch with all its leaves is bent below the bending point. Bending the branches diagonally into the pathway will help to get them below the bed level. If necessary a string can be put over the branches over the length of the bed, to keep them down.

A spray with captan or copper oxycloride, both at 1.5 gr per litre, will avoid infection of wounds with Botrytis, canker or others. In two or three days all leaves will turn themselves in the right position again.

Maintenance of The Bent Branches

Sprouting and any bud formation on the bent branches has to be removed. Do this maintenance work in a weekly round. Later on it may be necessary to collect some yellow or brown leaves in the same handling.

Further Care

Just after bending the plant has reduced its activity, hence less water and fertilizer is required. The water and the fertilizer will be increased when the plant starts making the basal shoots. Keep the top soil moist after bending. But always keep plant dry to avoid dieback!!

When spraying, take care that the leaves of the bent branches are also sprayed underneath. This is necessary to avoid insect and spider mite concentrations or fungal diseases, below the leaves.