Roses are one of the most popular and commonly grown flowers. Since 2004, when the Knockout® rose was introduced they have become so common in the United States that I’d bet you’d be hard pressed to go a day without seeing a rose bush somewhere. Even my local McDonald’s (hardly a mecca for fine gardening) has rose bushes along its drive-thru line.
Easy Care Roses – I Promise!
So.. what’s new with roses? The big news in the rose world is the proliferation of new easy-care roses. This generally means a rose that will grow with little or no care while continuing to bloom year round. Young gardeners want color and beauty but are not thrilled at the idea of
being out in their garden every weekend caring for finicky plants. Breeders got the message loud and clear and are introducing plants to meet that need.
Tesselaar has recently introduced a lovely family of no-care roses called Flower Carpet. These are very low-growing roses, so low they are advertised as ground cover roses. I have planted several of the ‘Pink Splash’ varieties along a rather bare wall at my home. Since it is planted in a place I don’t want to do much gardening these roses should be just the thing for this spot.
Another easy care rose just introduced is ‘Watercolors Home Run’ from Weeks Roses. This rose reminds me a little of ‘Joseph’s Coat,’ a multicolored heirloom rose. ‘Watercolors Home Run’ is a shrub rose that forms a well-behaved mound of color throughout the growing season. It is said to be disease resistant. Because it is a sterile hybrid, it needs no pruning to remove the spent flower heads. This rose would be a good candidate for homeowners that want color without any fuss.
How About a Living Fence?
Roses can do more than provide color in the landscape. Some varieties are climbing roses that can be used as a lovely, dense barrier shrub. Climbers can also be used to create an arching entrance to your garden. If this sounds good for your garden, consider ‘Tropical Lightning’ also from Weeks Roses that features “exotic-colored blooms that mix sunset orange and smoky purple—accented with cream-colored stripes.” This climbing rose produces canes 10-12 feet long so plant it where it will have plenty of room to spread out.
It’s Easy to Grow Roses
Rose bushes—whether new varieties or heirloom varieties that have been available for decades—grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. For the best show of flowers and the healthiest plants, rose bushes need to receive 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. In especially hot climates, roses do best when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun. In colder climates, planting a rose bush next to a south- or west-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter freeze damage.
Roses thrive best in soils that retain water without getting water-logged. In heavy clay soil, mix in compost, peat moss and other organic matter to improve drainage. Adding compost to lean, sandy soils helps to retain moisture near the plant’s roots.
To ensure a healthy rose bush, give it the equivalent of one inch of rainfall per week during the growing season. Water at the soil level to avoid getting the foliage wet, because wet leaves can encourage diseases such as black spot and downy mildew. Fertilize 2-3 times a year to encourage healthy growth.