Probably the best selling series of roses to ever hit the market is also one of the best “easy care” roses on the market. Even if you know nothing about roses and have never wanted to plant one, you’ve seen this rose because it is planted in all sorts of public spaces–gas stations, strip mall parking lots, highway medians–it’s almost inescapable. Its popularity doesn’t prevent it from being a great rose, however. I am talking about the series of roses sold under the trademark name Knock out®. This rose, with its deep green foliage and repeat bloom–often the shrub is in bloom all summer long–is everything it was promised to be.
The original Knock out® was developed by a man named Bill Radler. He sold the development rights to the Conard-Pyle company and 6 more roses with the Knock Out® name have been developed. Most are either in the red or pink/hot pink range and are variations on that theme (single and double blooms) but there is also a yellow available, sold as Sunny Knock Out®. (The second photo above is of Sunny Knock Out) The full color range can be viewed on the Conard Pyle web site, here.
I have grown every rose in the Knock Out® line. While some of my other shrub roses can be plagued by black spot and a pest of roses known as the rose sawfly larva (a little caterpillar-like creature too complicated to talk about here–but see this post) my Knock Out® roses are never troubled by anything. Even when an occasional Japanese beetle lands on them, the beetles soon move on!
The two most frequent critiques that I hear about these roses is that they have no fragrance (true) and that they don’t have that true rose form (mostly true–they look like an old fashioned single rose, if anything, but surely not like a hybrid tea).
They also would not be suitable for cutting, generally, because like all shrub roses, they bear their flowers in clusters and on short stems.
Interestingly enough, the grower says it will be a 3-4′ rose. Obviously they anticipate you pruning it. Without pruning, it has gotten much taller for me–and shows no signs of stopping.
But for a rose that’s hardy to zone 5 that I don’t have to give any extra attention to, that doesn’t get pests and diseases, that I don’t have to deadhead–I’ll definitely put up with a few minor drawbacks!