Easy-care, low-maintenance rose gardening
Many home gardeners shy away from planting roses due to their reputation as being difficult to grow and high-maintenance. Today’s rose hybrids, however, have been specifically bred to be hardier, more disease-resistant and require less maintenance, taking the fear out of planting them.
Roses that have been specially bred and tested to grow well in a wide range of climates are available. To select the best roses for your landscape, look for the American Rose Society (ARS) rating, which is a useful guideline for predicting the success of a rose. ARS ratings are typically from 6-6.9 for “fair” to 9-9.9 for “outstanding.”
Other good choices include roses designated as Earth Kind Roses by the Texas A&M University’s Agriculture program, which tests and evaluates roses for a high level of landscape performance and outstanding disease and insect
tolerance and resistance. To see the Earth Kind recommendations, visit http://earthkindroses.tamu.edu.
An easy-care knockout
If you’re looking for a true, easy-care rose, many experts recommend the Knock Out Rose, a shrub rose that blooms from April to November. The most disease-resistant type on the market, Knock Out Roses have a generous bloom cycle (about every 5-6 weeks) that will continue until the first hard frost and are heat tolerant throughout the entire United States.
Currently available in seven varieties, all Knock Out Roses are self-cleaning so there is no need to deadhead. You can plant them individually among shrubs, annuals and perennials in mixed beds and borders, or plant in large groups to create a colorful hedge. For more information, visit www.theknockoutrose.com.
Don’t avoid planting roses because of the many pest and disease problems traditionally associated with them. These problems can often be minimized or avoided. The most important point to remember is that success for any plant begins with selecting the proper site selection and planting. See Rose Care 101 for tips on planting.
rose care 101
Here are the essentials of rose gardening:
Site selection: Plant roses in a location that receives 6 or more hours of direct sun each day. Roses do best in well-drained soil, so place them in a raised bed or on a hillside or terraced area.
Planting: Spring and fall are the best seasons to plant roses. Before planting, water your rose plant well to help it through the transition.
Watering: Water deeply rather than frequently. Avoid sprinkling the leaves as this can promote black spot and mildew. Low-maintenance varieties require very little supplemental water if rainfall is sufficient.
Fertilizing: Fertilize according to the directions on your rose fertilizer container. Roses are heavy feeders and will perform best if fed regularly.
Pruning: Pruning depends on the type of rose, so do your research, but generally, prune roses while they are still dormant in the early spring. If your rose only blooms once a year, prune after it blooms. Low-maintenance roses usually don’t require pruning—just remove any dead canes each fall.
Mulching: Mulch around your roses following planting. Keep mulch away from the stem to help avoid insect and disease problems.
—All-America Rose Selections, www.rose.org; American Rose Society, www.ars.org
roses to watch
Recognized as the best roses in the country, these 2009 All-America Rose Selections winners have excellent disease resistance:
Cinco de Mayo
—All-America Rose Selections, www.rose.org