Thursday, May 26, 2022
May 26, 2022

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Gardening with Allen: Shrub roses useful for landscape

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I quit growing roses years ago because they required too much maintenance. I heard that there are now some roses that require a lot less work. Could you help me identify some of them?

Some of the newer landscape roses require less maintenance than roses grown primarily for cut flowers. Their biggest advantage is disease resistance. They do not require frequent pesticide application to prevent diseases such as black spot, powdery mildew and rust. They also require less pruning for shaping and to remove spent flowers.

The group known as shrub roses are the most useful for landscape purposes. Shrub roses grow in denser ball shapes that mature at about 4 feet in height and width. Flowers are smaller and grow in clusters of three to seven florets.

Several American rose breeders have developed series of shrub roses in multiple colors. Easy Elegance, Knock Out and Home Run are three of these series. There are also a number of excellent additional varieties with individual names.

Another useful group is a shorter ground-cover size maturing at about 2½ feet or less. This group also can be grown in containers for patio applications. Meideland and Happy Trails are two group names.

Roses are one of the earliest woody plants available in local stores in the spring as packaged, dormant, bare-root plants. However, these landscape roses are more likely to be available at local full-service nurseries and garden stores as potted, growing plants. Best selection of varieties is found online or via mail order through such companies as Jackson and Perkins, Spring Hill Nurseries and Heirloom Roses. Bare-root roses from these companies could be planted outside as early as January. Unlike traditional roses, the shrub roses are also available as potted flowering plants in mid-summer in full-service nurseries and garden stores.

If you like the idea of disease resistance and low maintenance in other traditional rose groups like hybrid tea, grandiflora and multiflora, you should look for roses developed by a German rose breeder. The Kordes roses have been developed over many years for their outstanding disease resistance. Heirloom Roses lists 70 varieties of the Kordes group.

Roses are heavier feeders than most woody plants. I have found timed-release fertilizers like Osmocote work quite well to give continuous feeding.

In addition to diseases, roses are especially attractive to insects like aphids. I have found that aphids are usually controlled by ladybugs (lady bird beetles) if you give them a few days. Rose fertilizer that contains granular insecticide is also available as a substitute for spraying.

Landscape roses tend to be a little hardier to cold temperatures than traditional varieties. They are seldom damaged by winter cold in our climate.

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