We planted a rose 3 years ago. The bush has tripled in size, but has never produced a bud. What's wrong? —Violet McElwee, Newton Falls, Ohio
Three things generally prevent a rose from blooming—a deadbudgraft, insufficient sunlight or too much nitrogen. Since your rosebush is growing well, we can rule out lack of sun.
A dead bud graft is the most common reason a rose won't bloom. The bud graft is that swollen portion of the stem just above the roots. Most roses are grafted onto hardy rootstock. If the bud graft is killed by cold temperatures, the rootstock takes over, resulting in thicker stems, fewer leaves, more thorns...and no flowers.
Examine the new growth to determine if the bud graft is dead. If so, the only solution is to replace the plant.
If the bud fraft appears okay, have your soil tested to see if fertilizer is the problem. The test will tell you the right kind and amount of fertilizer to use. In the meantime, avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers.