I’d never been much of a rose fan, save for the idea of heirloom roses growing against a cobbled wall in an English garden.  Other than that, they seem a bit pretentious and riddled with issues, hardly worth my time or energy, but this year in particular, roses seem to be flourishing everywhere I look.  They’ve caught my eye on numerous occasions, and Tom has reminded me that roses have come a long way in recent years.  Sure, there are still the old-fashioned varieties that seem to require the hand of a pro, but there are also hybrids that were designed for people like me –  impatient, temperamental novices.  Welcome the shrub rose, also known as landscape rose.

Shrub/landscape roses are easy to grow and will bloom all season long. They are disease resistant, hardy and well accustomed to our fickle Midwest weather.  Some of the newer varieties are more compact making them more versatile in our gardens.

Buy the largest plant you can find.  Keep in mind it will take 3-4 years for the plant to reach maturity.  Watch for the designation “low maintenance” and/or “hardy” when purchasing.  Make sure to plant in full sun, although there are a few varieties that will tolerate partial shade. Plant your shrub roses deep.  Water on a regular basis near the base of the plant.  Try not to get the leaves wet as this will encourage disease.  Remember to mulch to help optimize moisture conservation.  Fertilize early and stop by mid to late summer.  Prune in Spring to remove any dead wood and prune back about 10″ to prevent overgrowth.  Help your roses survive winter by providing 1-2″ of an insulator, like mulch or evergreen bows.

When it comes time to cut your roses for a bouquet, it’s best to cut a single bloom, close to the base and float in a bowl of water.  If you cut the entire stem, like other rose varieties, it will only take longer for your roses to regrow and bloom.

Knockout Roses, a trademarked variety of the shrub rose, were developed by a fellow-Midwesterner, William Radler, a Wisconsin botanist.  It has become the best-selling rose in the world since its inception in 2000, and I can certainly see why.

How about giving shrub roses a try?  I am confident if I can do it, then I know you certainly can too!

“Truths and roses have thorns about them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney