If you’ve never grown a rose simply for fear that you’ll kill it in no time, think again! The National Garden Bureau has designated 2017 as “The Year of the Rose”. According to the NGB: “Each year we select one annual, one perennial, one bulb crop and one edible as our ‘Year of the’ crops. Each is chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile.” (Note their term “easy-to-grow”!) The Rose is the US National Flower but they’ve been around for centuries, with the oldest on record dating back 7,000 years ago in China.
Although there are still plenty of prima donnas in the rose world — those sweetly scented hybrid tea and grandiflora roses that send off a few gorgeous blooms per stem and need quite a bit of TLC — modern-day rose breeding has resulted in a full range of low maintenance roses, from taller shrub roses to lower-growing groundcover roses. These newer varieties throw off tons of blooms throughout the summer, providing loads of color for months on end and many are considered to be easy to grow.
One of the early pioneers of the “easy care” rose phenomenon was Anthony Tesselaar, who, over 22 years ago, introduced the exceptionally disease tolerant Flower Carpet® groundcover roses to the American gardeners. Not a rosarian himself but rather a general plantsman and avid gardener, Tesselaar searched for a rose than anyone could grow without chemical sprays or the need for difficult pruning or care. Bred by the renowned German rose breeder Werner Noack, Flower Carpet rose is the recipient of over 25 international awards for disease resistance, making it a favorite of gardeners across the US.
These days, garden centers are filled with easy to grow roses. So, how do you decide which rose to start with? First of all, consider your growing conditions. Are you in an area that suffers from drought conditions? If so, make certain that whatever rose you choose is drought tolerant. Those with two-tiered root systems – like Flower Carpet roses – allow the plant to search deep into the soil for stored water, while fibrous upper-level roots take advantage of more readily available water.
Is the combination of heat and high humidity one of your gardening challenges? If so, the Next Generation Flower Carpet rose varieties – Amber, Scarlet and Pink Supreme – may be your answer. Bred to be exceptionally tolerant of high heat and humidity (and the woes that combination brings to roses), these bulletproof roses will tolerate even the toughest conditions. Not only do they tolerate heat and drought, they’re also hardy to USDA Zone 4 (which includes those subfreezing areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin!)
The next consideration is how and where the rose will be used. If you’re looking for a taller rose to plant along a fence or wall, Knock Out® shrub roses can grow to 4-6 feet high in a season, depending on your location, making them a good backdrop option. They’re available in a range of colors, from pale pinks to deep reds.
Lower growing Flower Carpet roses are ideal in borders and beds, and even do well along driveways, toughing it out through high radiant heat, road salt and even snowplow damage! With 10 colors to choose from, there’s one for every taste or garden palette.
Smaller roses like the Sweet Spot® decorator roses are ideal for those with limited space and can be planted on their own or mixed with smaller annuals or perennials – either in the ground or in decorative containers.
Does the thought of rose thorns frighten you? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that there are now “thorn free” roses (well, almost thorn free). Smooth Touch™ Roses are 95% thorn free!
If you’re limited on time, remember that easy-care roses are your best bets. While shopping for roses, look for ones that have green leaves, with soil that’s slightly damp but not soggy. Depending on the time of year that you’re buying your rose, you may see buds or full blooms. It’s not unusual to find some yellow leaves on any nursery plant, especially if it’s been sitting on the store shelf for a while, but avoid plants that have a lot of dead leaves around the base of the plant, or an abundance of yellowing leaves. If the plant is dry enough, you can even try to lift it out of the pot to make certain it has a nice full root structure.
Still confused? Your local garden center staff are often a wealth of knowledge, so don’t be intimated but the large selections. Simply explain what you’re looking for and ask for suggestions. Another way to learn what roses grow best in your climate is to ask friends who may be gardeners, or check with your local garden club.
So, stand up straight, head and shoulders back and off you go to the garden center, armed with all you need to tackle your fear of growing roses! For more information on choosing the right rose for any location, check out this helpful video by Growing Wisdom’s Dave Epstein.
Click here for a downloadable version of this story starter. For free hi-res photos to accompany this and other Tesselaar Plants story starters, please contact jbrower@TesselaarUSA.com