Is this the year to add that rose garden to your landscape? Or would
you like to see a colorful rose hedge softening the appearance of a
backyard fence or bordering a driveway?
Perhaps you've been putting it off, believing that roses are tricky
plants to grow and you're not sure you're up to the task. Yes, some
roses have acquired a reputation for being finicky plants. But if you
select the right varieties, you will find they are a lot less demanding
than you think.
Cheryl and I particularly like the varieties collectively known as
"Knockout Roses." In fact, we have a Knockout rose hedge at our
home that demands very little of our time and attention.
Rose, Knockout Red
If you're looking for a low-maintenance, disease-resistant, red shrub
rose, this is probably the one you need. We've been amazed at its
outstanding blooming capability. We've found that it will bloom from
the early spring to the last frost in late fall. In 2004, it was
designated the ARS Members Choice by the American Rose Society.
If you plant Knockout Red early in the season, you should see
impressive repeat blooms the first year. In cooler weather, the blooms
are a fluorescent fire-engine red, becoming a deep, dense pink in the
heat of summer.
If you live in a humid area or tend to have fairly harsh, windy
winters, you'll find Knockout Red to be a hardy plant. Another
benefit is that it is very resistant to the dreaded black spot and the
tough leaves actually resist Japanese beetles.
Rose, Knockout Pink If you'd prefer a more delicate color, go for the
Knockout Pink. Maturing into a neat 3' x 3' shrub, it sports bright
pink blooms that stay throughout the growing season into late fall.
The petals fall cleanly so it doesn't need deadheading. As with other
Knockout varieties, the pink is disease-resistant, drought-tolerant and
requires only 3 to 4 hours of sunlight a day.
Rose, Knockout Rainbow
The Rainbow is a fairly new addition to the Knockouts and is so named
because it features lovely single blooms that change color as they
mature. The blooms open orange from coral-pink buds, and then quickly
turn soft coral-pink shading to gold at the base, surrounding a yellow
The blooms are about 2 inches wide and very colorful with a delightful
scent of sweetbriar. It's lovely to see a fully-blooming shrub, when
the various colors of buds, new blooms, and mature flowers are present
at once. When the blooms have passed, the shrub is covered with bright
orange hips that will remain throughout the winter, attracting birds to
In addition to being an ideal choice for a hedge or driveway planting,
Rainbow can add a ribbon of color to a perennial border or as a
While not a member of the Knockout Rose family, this one certainly
deserves a mention. The Fairy has been around for a long time, 70 years
or more, and can be seen at many of the country's heritage gardens.
It produces delicate rosettes in clusters of pale pink from early
spring until late frost. When the shrubs are spaced about 3 feet apart,
they quickly mature into a solid 3 foot tall hedge of color in a sunny
garden. Fairy would also be a nice focal point in a patio garden or as
a colorful addition along a foundation.
You don't have to be a dedicated rosarian to create a successful and
colorful rose garden. Choose varieties, such as those I've described
here, that are low-maintenance and disease resistant, and you can enjoy
the sight and scent of roses all season with very little effort.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org