Roses are the queens of the garden. No other flower is as universally prized, and no other flower is as celebrated as the rose. A rose bush in full bloom is the star of the landscape. But roses can be fussy. They have a reputation as being a Goldilocks in the landscape. Conditions have to be just right—not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry. Sometimes caring for a finicky rose bush involves lots of spraying, special care and prayer.
At least that’s the way it used to be 20 years ago. In 1995, a new kind of rose appeared in American garden centers. It was called Flower Carpet®, and it was introduced as the first “eco-rose.” Unlike the other fussy roses available to gardeners, the easy-care Flower Carpet was disease and pest resistant. It seemed to thrive on neglect, and it didn’t need to be sprayed with fungicides to battle diseases such as blackspot and powdery mildew, or sprayed with pesticides to kill insect pests.
Flower Carpet Pink, the first Flower Carpet rose to be introduced, boasted a profusion of bright, carmine pink blossoms. The plant seemed to bloom nonstop, with a flowering season that could easily last for five months or more. The flowers were framed against the plant’s rich, glossy green foliage, which could stay on the plant all year long in warmer climates. Once the plant got established, it was remarkably drought tolerant —and tolerant to road salts in colder climates.
But that wasn’t all. Flower Carpet roses didn’t need fancy pruning; they only needed to be cut back once each spring to keep the plant vibrant and healthy. Its growth habit kept the plant lower and more spread out that the typical rose bush, so a thriving, blooming Flower Carpet rose bush looked like a magic carpet made of roses.
The Marketing Genius Behind the Miracle Plant
The original Flower Carpet rose was developed by Werner Noack, a plant breeder in Germany, in the late 1980s. At first this new variety was called Heidetraum, until a marketing genius from Australia named Anthony Tesselaar devised a unique strategy to bring it to market as the first globally branded rose.
“The plant was phenomenal, and a rose this distinctive deserved an equally distinctive marketing strategy,” said Anthony Tesselaar, president of Anthony Tesselaar International. “We trademarked the Flower Carpet name, and we began to use branding techniques to create awareness and communicate the value that Flower Carpet roses brought to gardens and landscapes.”
One of the cornerstones of the Flower Carpet branding was the plant pot itself. Back then, a shopper at a garden center was greeted by row after row of black plastic pots that looked exactly the same. But each Flower Carpet rose came in an easy-to-find bright pink pot bearing a distinctive Flower Carpet logo. Instead of a small, plain plant tag, the Flower Carpet Rose tag was a large, full-color instructional booklet that sat atop a patented clip-on stake that would flutter in a breeze to call attention to itself. “The presentation was groundbreaking, and so was the plant,” said Tesselaar.
Flower Carpet Pink was a gardening sensation. The “no spraying, no dusting, no kidding” environmental rose changed an entire plant category—and began to forever change the way plants were marketed and sold.
New Varieties, New Colors
When gardeners planted the new Flower Carpet Pink rose, they were rewarded with garden performance as good or better as the advance publicity promised. The rose bushes really were tough-as-nails in the yard. The flowers were bright and prolific, and they even dropped their petals neatly instead of leaving ugly clumps on the bush.
The worldwide success of Flower Carpet Pink was followed by the introduction of additional Flower Carpet roses with different-colored flowers. In 1997, Flower Carpet White was introduced, and the very next year Flower Carpet Apple Blossom, a pale pink variety, became available to American gardeners. New colors continued to be introduced every few years to broaden the Flower Carpet color palette.
To date, 10 different Flower Carpet roses have been introduced, and gardeners continue to buy them every spring. The growing Flower Carpet family of roses has received an impressive list of international awards for beauty, garden performance and natural disease resistance. Flower Carpet roses have earned 28 top honors including Gold Medals from competitions in The Hauge (Holland), the Royal Horticultural Society (England) and the Horticultural Journalists’ Association (Paris, France)—and six ADR Rose Awards from the All Deutschland Rose trials in Germany, which is widely considered to be the world’s toughest test of rose performance.
Outstanding Performance in the Garden
The most important aspect of Flower Carpet roses is their performance in gardens throughout the world—year after year. If Flower Carpet rose bushes didn’t continue to look great in a front yard or backyard garden, all of the prestigious awards and accolades would mean nothing. A Flower Carpet rose bush can be planted almost anywhere in the landscape. Like other roses, it thrives in full sun, so its dark green leaves and prolific blooms look great in a sunny garden bed or in front of a garden wall or a fence. But unlike a typical rose bush, a Flower Carpet bush will also bloom in partial sun when planted under a tree.
Traditional rose bushes are famous for the meticulous pruning that they require each year to coax the plant into full blossom. But sometimes it seems as though a Flower Carpet rose thrives on neglect and mistreatment. Prune off one-third of its growth in the spring, and it will bloom magnificently. Forget to prune it all together or accidently run over it with a lawnmower, and the next year it looks healthy and vigorous, and it’s covered with colorful, multi-petaled blossoms once again.
What makes this rose so special is its ability to thrive without much fertilizer or pest-control chemicals. That makes a Flower Carpet rose an ideal choice for inter-planting with vegetables, herbs or flowers that attract beneficial pollinators. Its natural, low-growing habit also makes it ideal for erosion control on slopes or as a groundcover in hard-to-access areas in a landscape. The newest varieties, often called the “Next Generation” of Flower Carpet roses—including Scarlet, Amber, Pink Supreme and Pink Splash, have all been bred for even stronger heat and humidity tolerance.
Another influential garden writer and plant expert agrees. “Flower Carpet roses…changed how gardeners feel about roses,” said Stephanie Cohen, co-author of The Nonstop Garden. “They went from high-care, being fussy and lots of work, to being a gardener’s best friend.”
That, in a nutshell, is why more than 80 million Flower Carpet roses have been sold since the US introduction of Flower Carpet Pink in 1995. That’s a lot of pink pots, and there’s no end in sight.
- A Magic Carpet Made of Roses.pdf Feature Story
- Flower Carpet Timeline.pdf Sidebar
- Rose Growing Made Easy.pdf Sidebar
Free downloadable Flower Carpet images are available at Tesselaar’s Flickr site or by contacting Judie Brower at JBrower@TesselaarUSA.com