Now is an excellent time to consider adding roses to your landscape. For many gardeners, particularly those just getting into roses, a rose is a rose. But several different categories or types of roses are available, and each type includes numerous varieties.
Before you go to the nursery, it’s important to think about the type of roses you want to grow so that you make the proper selections.
Decide how you want to use roses in the landscape and why you intend to grow them. Consider how large you want the bushes to be. For example, Knock Out roses can reach 6 feet tall while Drift roses tend to stay under 3 feet.
The trend these days is to incorporate roses into landscape plantings just like any other shrub. This works particularly well with the old garden roses, landscape roses, polyanthas and floribundas.
The following is not a complete list of all the many types of roses, but it includes some of the more popular categories that will do well in our area. Repeat-flowering – everblooming – roses bloom intermittently from around late April to early December. Once-blooming roses bloom profusely around May and produce few or no flowers afterward.
Modern roses – Types developed after 1867, the year the first hybrid tea was introduced.
Hybrid tea roses produce large, exquisitely shaped flowers generally produced singly on long stems for cutting and in an amazing range of colors. Plants range in size up to more than 6 feet tall and can be leggy and awkward in appearance. Highly susceptible to black spot, these roses generally require regular spraying and pruning to remain healthy and vigorous. Repeat-flowering.
Grandiflora roses are tall plants that produce hybrid tea-like flowers singly or in clusters of a few flowers on long stems. Generally comparable to hybrid teas, they also require similar care. Repeat-flowering.
Polyantha roses are vigorously growing, bushy plants that produce small flowers in large clusters or sprays and are excellent in landscape plantings. Most are relatively disease resistant, and they are some of the more reliable and easy-to-grow roses for our state. Repeat-flowering.
Floribunda roses are a useful type of rose for landscape planting. These shrubby roses are less ungainly than hybrid teas. The flowers are smaller than hybrid teas, often brightly colored and produced in clusters. Fragrance is light or lacking entirely.
Climbing roses and ramblers produce long canes that can be tied or trained on a support. Some varieties have been bred to climb while others are vigorous mutations of bush roses. Ramblers and many climbers are once-blooming, but some climbers are repeat-flowering, so check before purchasing.
Landscape rose is a catchall name for roses that tend to be bushy and are useful for landscape planting. This category includes English roses, ground cover roses, landscape roses, shrub roses, hedge roses and others. Currently, the Knock Out rose and its several color forms are a highly popular part of this category. The Drift roses come in a variety of colors and are excellent low-growing landscape roses.
On another note: Don’t forget that late January through mid-February is when we do major pruning to repeat-flowering types of roses in our landscapes. Most roses need at least some annual pruning to maintain an attractive shape, remove dead wood and encourage vigorous growth and bloom. If you don’t prune, the result will often be tall, rangy, overgrown bushes that will not be nearly as attractive. It is far easier for you and healthier for the rose bush if you do this pruning annually.
Use sharp bypass-type hand pruners that make clean cuts and minimize damage to the stems. Wear a sturdy pair of leather gloves and long sleeves. Should you need to cut canes larger than one-half inch in diameter, use loppers.
Don’t forget that we also do a second annual pruning in late summer, around late August or early September.
Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. He can be reached at DGill@agcenter.lsu.edu