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 center.
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 your garden.
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 container plant.
Fairy Rose 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 email@example.com and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org