Roses – one of the longest blooming plants for the garden

Roses are a traditional favorite plant for the ornamental garden and are typically one of the longest blooming plants in any garden.  Roses have a history dating back millions of years. Rose breeders from all over the world love the challenge of finding the next best rose, resulting in thousands and thousands of varieties.  At Kennedy’s Country Gardens we do our best to sell the most prolific blooming and disease resistant varieties. Roses are not know for being easy, but many of the newer roses are much easier to grow, longer blooming and come in a huge variety of colors and sizes.

Here is a quick breakdown of the most common types of Rose Bushes and their uses to help you simplify your selection.

Shrub Roses

We wish there were such a thing as a plant and forget rose bush with no maintenance.  All rose bushes require some maintenance, however, the rose varieties within this category typically provide the most amount of color for an ornamental garden with the least amount of work.  Plant them in the garden and they will typically produce waves of blooms from late spring until fall.  Shrub roses tend to be among the most winter hardy and reliable.  This type of rose includes the Knock Out series of roses. They are known to be fairly easy to grow and require less spraying and maintenance. Shrub roses are generally bred for disease resistance and ease of care. Kennedy’s carries a great selection of Knock Out roses as well as a few other tried and true varieties and we always experiment with a few new ones as well.  Do not expect plants within this category to be good for cutting and put in a vase.  The stems are not as long and the flowers do not last as long as a cut flower.

Groundcover Roses

This type of rose bush is expanding every year because they are easy to grow and stay lower in the landscape. Very similar to shrub roses, they are just smaller.  Groundcover may not be the perfect term, while they stay lower than most roses and do spread wider than tall, but many varieties still get at least 2-3′ tall.  A series of groundcover roses called Flower Carpet started giving this group of roses a buzz. Another series called Drift Roses is now a very popular collection of low growing roses. Our buyer, Susan, loves Apricot Drift and Rose Flower Carpet.

Floribunda Roses

Floribundas were produced by crossing Hybrid Tea Roses with Polyantha Roses. The result is a smaller shrub with with more flowers, but often smaller flowers.  They can be single or double and tend to be fragrance free although there are some newer varieties that do have a scent. Floribundas are also known for their hardiness. A favorite yellow variety commonly stocked at Kennedy’s  is called ‘Julia Child’.


Similar to above, but slightly larger flowers but slightly less flowers clustered at the end of the stems.

Climbing Roses

This category of roses can be trained to climb up trellises, arbors and and along fences to add color and charm to your landscape. ‘New Dawn’ is a stunning light pink climber that is the most popular tried and true climbing rose.

Hybrid Tea Roses

This category is traditionally the type of roses that are best used for beautifully formed, often fragrant flowers with long stems, bread to be cut and used in floral vases and arrangements.

David Austin Roses

This is a branded collection of older style roses, not always known for ease of care, although many have been bred to be more resistant to insects and disease. The priority in this breed of roses has always been their flowers. Many David Austin Roses have long stems, perfect for cutting, colorful flowers and breathtaking fragrance. David Austin ‘James Austin‘ is a customer favorite.  Height varies within this category.  Some grower shorter to about 4’ and others can get quite large and some can be used as climbers to be trained on a trellis or along a fence.


Rose Care:

Sunlight – Roses are not negotiable on sunlight.  Basically the more sun you have the easier it is to grow roses.  If you try planting roses in less than a full day sun, you will likely experience more problems with diseases.  There are better, easier plants to grow if you have less than 6-8 hours of sun.

Insects – Generally insects are easy to control with an organic insecticide. The type of spray varies based on the insect. Common insects include aphids, saw fly, caterpillars and beetles. When in doubt cut off a rose stem and place in a zip lock and and we can help you diagnose.

Diseases – Black spot is the most common disease of rose bushes, but there are others.  The more sun and the more wind and air circulation the less disease most roses have. Some varieties are more prone to disease than others.  If you need help diagnosing and treating bring us a sample in a zip lock type bag.

Growing season pruning – It is best to remove the spent flowers so all the growing energy does not go into producing fruit/seeds or the next generation.  You want to “dead head” your roses as to trick them into continuing to flower.  The flower is their way of attracting pollinators in an effort to reproduce.  Most experts suggest deadheading by cutting the flower cluster off the ends of the branches. Typically the pruning produces another flower better/faster if you cut in between the first and second set of 5 leaves. The branches with 3 leaves typically do not produce as many flowers.

Off Season Pruning – This is typically done later winter/early spring.  This is done to remove any dead branches and stems with lots of dead tissue from a cold winter.  Some people will selectively prune out the canes that are brown and leave the greener stems.  Other people just prune the entire rose bushes back to 18-24″ from the ground.  It can be higher if you have had little winter damage.  After some winters pruning is hardly needed.  How far to cut them back is based on winter damage and how much you want to cut the rose back.  Most people do not cut back climbing roses in order to not lose the height that took years to establish. Thinning rose bushes such as climbers is a good practice to remove some of the older canes and open up the rose bush to allow better air circulation.
Pruning is not always easy to explain with text.  Feel feel to take pics and ask us in store your pruning questions.

Enjoy your rose gardening!!!

Chris Kennedy, MCH







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