Roses are shunned by some gardeners because they can be time-consuming and hard to keep healthy in the garden. If you are fairly new to gardening and are already growing one of these roses or something similar, you may wonder what all of the fuss is about. You have fortunately found a low-maintenance shrub from the Rosa genus.
This new generation of low-maintenance rose varieties is turning the rose's difficult stereotype on its head. Developers acknowledged the complaints from the public and set about building a better rose. The result has been the emergence of a number of different types of easy-to-grow roses. The charge has been led by the Knock Out brand, which is now the most popular rose bush in North America.
Most rose bushes grow best in full sun, in well-drained soil, and when you help out Mother Nature by supplying water during dry periods (but water at ground level so as to avoid getting water on the leaves). All entries on the list are suitable for USDA growing zones 5 to 9 (in the case of Rosa rugosa, 2 to 7).
01 of 07
Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa)
An old standby in the toolkit of the landscaper seeking low-maintenance options is Rosa rugosa, a salt-tolerant plant. This rose bush tolerates salt so well, in fact, that it has been dubbed the beach rose. This tough plant is not fazed by poor soils, high winds, or drought.
The beach rose bush's tolerance of salt is not limited to sea salt; it extends to road salt, as well. This feature, along with the fact that it is a low-maintenance plant overall, makes it a rose to grow along the side of a street.
Prune these rose bushes to shape them in late winter or early spring if you wish to manage their size. At maturity, they generally stand 4 to 6 feet tall, with a similar spread. For even lower maintenance (if you have the room), treat them as wild shrubs, pruning only to remove dead wood.
02 of 07
At Last Rose
Developed under the brand name, At Last, these roses provide what rose growers have been seeking for so long. It is a combination of three qualities:
- It is an easy-to-grow rose bush.
- It bears the classic rose fragrance.
- Its flower takes on the tea-rose form displayed in such popular roses as Tahitian Sunset, bearing attractive, double blooms.
Those are not the only benefits of this variety. This plant is disease-resistant, blooms all summer, and is compact enough to grow well in a container.
Measuring approximately 3 feet by 3 feet at maturity, care for At Last roses is simple: prune and fertilize in spring.
03 of 07
'Candy Oh! Vivid Red', (Rosa 'Zlemartincipar'), may be single-flowered, but these easy-to-grow rose bushes make up for it by producing a multitude of blossoms. They are part of the Oso Happy brand name series. The flowers look their best when they first unfurl because that is when their yellow centers shine brightly. Later, this yellow color subsides. Fortunately, this shrub is such a great flower producer that, as soon as one bloom starts to age, another is opening to take its place.
Standing 3 to 4 feet tall at maturity, with a similar spread, there is no pressing need to prune Candy Oh! roses, other than to remove dead branches. Some cutting back is commonly recommended to give the plants the form that you desire for them. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring. But it is really up to you as to whether or not you prune with any great precision, and if you do choose to do so, exactly when you prune.
04 of 07
'Smoothie' Oso Happy Rose
'Smoothie' (Rosa 'Zlesak Poly3') and 'Candy Oh!' both belong to the Oso Happy brand name of roses. Indeed, they are very similar rose bushes with the same size, disease-resistance, and minimal care requirements, except for flower color (neither offers a particularly nice fragrance). If you like pink, you will want to grow Smoothie.
Smoothie's name is based on the marketing assertion that it is thornless (as in having smooth canes). Sadly, this isn't always true.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
'Rainbow' Knock Out Rose
'Rainbow' from the Knock Out brand name is another rose bush with single flowers and no fragrance. But this repeat bloomer makes up for it by exhibiting a knockout color combination of coral with a yellow center that earns it that rainbow name.
'Rainbow' Knock Out measures about 3 to 4 feet tall when mature, with a similar width. It can get bigger than that in some regions and/or under the right growing conditions, however. To manage its size, prune it in spring and/or in early summer. Make a cut down to a leaf or to a bud that is pointing away from the center of the plant, to keep the shrub's branching pattern airy, rather than having too much in the middle. Prune off branches that are rubbing against each other during your spring or early-summer pruning and prune off dead branches at any time.
06 of 07
'Blushing' Knock Out Rose
If 'Rainbow' doesn't excite you, try another bush in this series of repeat bloomers: the 'Blushing' Knock Out rose. This kind bears fragrant, semi-double, pink flowers. It becomes 3 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. As with 'Rainbow', no deadheading is required.
In addition to basic spring pruning done every year to maintain size, you should perform a rejuvenation pruning on Knock Out roses every other year in late winter. Prune out a third of the oldest branches to channel energy into creating healthy new branches. As blooming pauses on a Knock Out rose bush during the course of the growing season, feed with a balanced rose fertilizer.
07 of 07
'Pink Supreme Flower Carpet'
'Pink Supreme Flower Carpet' is part of the carpet rose series put out by the Australia-based company, Tesselaar. The name, "carpet rose," is in keeping with the marketing characterization of these plants as ground cover roses, but they are not ground covers that you can walk on. Rather, the idea is to call attention to the fact that these plants grow low to the ground relative to their width. Their average mature height is less than 30 inches, while their spread is 40 inches.
'Pink Supreme' makes this list for its low maintenance. Plant several of these easy-to-grow roses on a patch of land where you do not intend to be walking but where you would like to have color throughout the summer. Pruning is as easy as shearing off the top two-thirds of the plants in late winter or early spring.
Growing Rose Bushes
Choosing any of these easy-to-grow rose bushes allows you to enjoy the beauty of roses without having to give up your weekends to care for them. If you are already stuck growing a variety of rose bush that is less easy to grow, all is not lost. With a few basic tips for growing rose bushes, you can tame the more finicky members of this much-admired genus of plants.