What should I do with an overgrown multiflora wild rose bush?


I had a huge white multiflora wild rose bush. I’ve cut it back moderately several times but now it looks awful. It is misshapen and has several dead branches underneath. I actually love these bushes, but just don’t want it to take over my garden. Any advice on what pruning, etc. that I should do at this point?


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

This is a bit of a tricky case. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is an invasive species in Maine, and a particularly problematic one. This is absolutely no judgment on you for having or liking the rose, but I do feel I should stress that the species spreads rampantly and escapes captivity, even when well-intentioned gardeners are staying on top of it. In the wild, it outcompetes native plant species and generates a reduced/deteriorated habitat for native insects and animal life. My best professional advice to you is to remove the plant (especially if it’s already declining) and replace it with either a Virginia (Rosa virginiana) or Carolina rose (Rosa Carolina), both lovely natives.

Otherwise, care of roses is largely the same across species: full sun, plenty of good air circulation, well-drained soil, and annual pruning maintenance. You can read more about general rose care on this Univ of MO Extension page. For pruning advice, please see our UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #2169, Pruning Woody Landscape Plants.