Easy Care Roses and Others

This morning I am off lecturing in Connecticut. The first week of May is always very busy for me with multiple lectures. In fact, by the end of May, you’d never know that a gardener lives in the house because I am usually too busy lecturing to garden! There’s a sad state of affairs!

My topic this morning is “Easy Care Roses.” As a general rule, this is a category of roses that requires no extra “inputs” from the gardener (horrible phrase–I have no idea who came up with that) once established. By that, the breeders (and we writers who describe the roses) mean that the roses can pretty much survive on their own without supplemental fertilizer or pesticide. They also say no supplemental irrigation is required but I have found that to be more true of some roses than others. And remember, I have that heavy wet clay that holds moisture longer than most soils.

As a rule, hybrid tea roses are not “easy care.” If you want something easy care, you’ll want to look for something that’s a “shrub” rose. Before we had all these patented roses in the different color pots with the brand names all over them, shrub roses were polyanthas, grandifloras and floribundas. They might have a rugosa in their parentage but it doesn’t mean they’re going to be invasive.

Now that almost every rose in the garden center comes in a branded pot, it’s even more difficult to tell what might be a “shrub” or an “easy-care” rose.  Almost everything claims to be “easy care” but it’s not.

As much as I love the David Austin shrub roses, they are NOT easy care no matter what I do and they never will be. They are beautiful, fragrant, spectacular roses–but they need treatment and that is not for me. I am pulling out the last of mine this year.

And then there’s Knockout™, the great hope of rose growers everywhere. They can grow beside every gas station and in every traffic median. I am not happy with how they grow for me. Maybe it’s a sun thing. So I am not growing them anymore.

I do far better with smaller flowered, incredibly prickly caned roses. This describes many of the roses in the OsoEasy™ series by Proven Winners. It can describe some miniature roses. It describes polyanthas like ‘The Fairy’ and ‘Red Fairy’ which would probably grow for me under a tree (well, maybe not quite there).

Unfortunately these are not cutting roses, nor are they fragrant. But they are tough as nails and they bloom all summer (without any extra ‘inputs’ or any extra water once they are established). They also survive whatever my Connecticut winters throw at them. Minus 15 and no snow? Not a problem.What more could a gardener want?

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