Candy Oh Roses Ideal for Non-Green Thumbs

How and why to grow this low-maintenance bush in your yard

Picture: Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose flowers, in closeup.
David Beaulieu

Candy Oh™ rose is a plant of many names, so homeowners shopping for it at a garden center or researching it online could easily become confused. Plant taxonomy labels it Rosa 'Zlemartincipar' (for an explanation of this crazy moniker, see below). The latter is the cultivar name. Problem is, you are much more likely to encounter the plant under some combination of the following names:

  1. Oso Happy®, which is the name of a series (of which Candy Oh is just one part)
  2. Candy Oh! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name, technically; we drop it for the rest of the article because we find it too gaudy)
  3. Vivid Red

Candy Oh roses are deciduous flowering shrubs. They are hybrid plants. In terms of rose types, they are considered a "landscape" rose, a term virtually synonymous with low-maintenance. We would go further: Candy Oh landscape roses could serve as the poster child for low-maintenance in the Rosa genus.

Characteristics of Candy Oh Roses

This landscape rose bears single, pinkish-red flowers. The individual flowers are only about 1 inch in diameter, but they occur in showy clusters. The bush begins blooming in late spring in my zone-5 garden.

It continues to bloom throughout the summer and into fall. The flowers look best when they first open because they display a prominent yellow center at that time; later, this yellow color fades (see picture). Some growers describe the flowers as mildly fragrant. We would not even go that far: this is a type of rose that we grow for its looks and low-maintenance, not its smell.

Candy Oh roses have an upright growth habit and reach 3-4 feet tall, with a similar width. The growth is dense. Leaf color is an average green.

Planting Zones, Sun and Soil Requirements

Candy Oh roses are listed for planting zones 4-9. If you live in a region where their cold-hardiness is borderline, apply mulch for winter protection. In zone 5, we have never mulched them for winter and they survive just fine. Mulch is, however, also helpful in keeping the roots cool during the summer.

Grow this landscape rose where it will receive full sunshine and where the ground is well-drained. Amend the soil with compost. The shrub prefers a soil pH that is mildly acidic.

Uses for Landscape Roses

We would not use these landscape roses as single specimen plants. In my opinion, they are much more effective massed together and used:

Candy Oh roses are deer-resistant shrubs but are also plants that attract butterflies, so you get the best of both worlds in the matter of wildlife.

Pest Problems, Care for Landscape Roses

Pruning is not required, but you can prune if you wish to keep them within bounds or to shape them. As vigorous as they are, these landscape roses are not fussy as to when they are pruned, but many growers choose to do the job in late winter or early spring since these are shrubs that bloom on new growth. Wear gloves as protection against the bush's thorns. Personally, since we have ours growing in mixed beds with other plants, we prune them whenever their thorns make it uncomfortable for us to access and care for the plants around them. 

Deadheading is not necessary for reblooming. The old flowers drop off and disappear.

Some growers report that Candy Oh requires quite a bit of water. We have not found this to be the case, but those who live to the south of us (in New England, U.S.) may need to irrigate more regularly. As with roses, generally speaking, watering at the base of the plant is preferred overwatering from above; the latter moistens the foliage, which can invite diseases such as powdery mildew. It is also best to water in the morning so that the area has all day to dry out (rather than providing the wet conditions overnight that fungus craves).​

These roses are considered resistant to, but not immune from many diseases, including mildews, rust and leaf spot. Make sure there is enough space between the bushes and other plants to promote good air circulation, thereby increasing your chances of avoiding such diseases.

We have had to spray neem oil on these landscape shrubs to wipe out aphids. But the health of our Candy Oh roses did not seem to suffer from the aphid infestations as much as some plants do. Missouri Botanical Garden lists the following as additional pests that can attack landscape roses, generally speaking:

  1. Beetles
  2. Borers
  3. Scale
  4. Thrips
  5. Midges
  6. Leafhoppers
  7. Spider mites

Origin of the Names

First of all, the explanation of the full trademark name, "Candy Oh! Vivid Red" comes courtesy of Tim Wood, product development manager at Spring Meadow Nursery and Proven Winners. The "Vivid Red" part is clear enough, referring to floral color. As for the other part, it seems to be an amalgam of two things. To Wood's eye, the color of the flowers is similar to "a red car paint color called Candy Apple Red." Meanwhile "Candy-O" is the name of a song sung by the American rock band, The Cars.

Now for the derivation of that monstrosity of a cultivar name, 'Zlemartincipar.' The origins of plant names are not always apparent—and the origin of this one is particularly obscure. We owe the following explanation to none other than the breeder of Rosa 'Zlemartincipar,' David Charles Zlesak, who posted on the subject of the plant's naming in the old forum on RoseBreeders.org. Without his post, we would have been clueless.

According to Zlesak, the name was created "to honor the late Dr. Martin Cipar who was the potato breeder for Frito Lay and the father in law of my MS advisor". The first three letters refer to the breeder's own name, Zlesak.

We have investigated the history behind some convoluted plant names in my day, but this one takes the cake.

Outstanding Features (Summary)

Candy Oh rose is the ideal low-maintenance plant, because it is:

  1. Vigorous
  2. Cold-hardy
  3. Disease-resistant
  4. Deer-resistant

The bush blooms all summer long without much care from you. It will supply your landscaping with vibrant color throughout much of the growing season.