7 Easy-to-Care-For Rose Bushes to Check Out Before You Buy

Rose bush with pink flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Rose bushes (Rosa spp.) might seem intimidating to new gardeners. Some types of roses can be time-consuming and hard to keep healthy in the garden, but plenty of rose varieties are easy to grow.

Before you hit your local hardware store or garden center, it's important to know what to look for in a rose bush. A new generation of low-maintenance rose bush varieties have made growing roses simpler than ever. For example, Knock Out roses are one of the most popular breeds of rose bush in the United States thanks to their showy blooms, disease resistance, and ease of care. You can find these hardy, fragrant rose bushes at:

  • Big box stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, and Walmart
  • Online retailers like Monrovia and Stark Bro's
  • Local nurseries, hardware stores, and garden centers

Most rose bushes grow best in a spot with full sun and well-drained soil. Water them at ground level during dry periods to avoid getting water on the leaves, which can encourage disease. Here are seven of the best rose bushes to consider as you're looking for easy-to-grow options for your garden.

Types of Rose Bushes

There are more than 300 species and more than 30,000 different varieties of roses, but they generally fall into one of a handful of categories:

  • Tea roses
  • Grandiflora roses
  • Floribunda roses
  • Polyantha roses
  • Miniature roses
  • Shrub roses
  • Climbing or rambling roses
  • 01 of 07

    'Rainbow' Knock Out Rose

    Rainbow Knock Out rose with a bicolored flower.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    'Rainbow' from the Knock Out breeder is another rose bush with single flowers and no fragrance. This repeat bloomer makes up for it with a gorgeous combination of coral with a yellow center that earns it that rainbow name.

    'Rainbow' Knock Out measures about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide when mature. It can get bigger than that in some regions and growing conditions. To manage its size, prune branches that rub against each other in spring or in early summer. Prune off dead branches at any time.

    This rose bush variety is known for its disease resistance, especially against issues like powdery mildew, black spot, and rust.

  • 02 of 07

    'Blushing' Knock Out Rose

    Blushing Knock Out rose flower in the garden
    okimo / Getty Images

    If 'Rainbow' doesn't excite you, try another bush in this series of repeat bloomers: the 'Blushing' Knock Out rose. This type of rose bush bears fragrant, semi-double pink flowers and grows up to 3 to 4 feet tall and wide at maturity. As with 'Rainbow', no deadheading is required.

    In addition to basic spring pruning done every year to maintain size, it's a good idea to 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.

  • 03 of 07

    Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa)

    Rosa rugosa blooming with a pink flower.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    A low-maintenance standby is Rosa rugosa, a salt-tolerant plant. This rose bush tolerates salt so well, in fact, that it's also known as the beach rose. This tough plant is not fazed by poor soils, high winds, or drought and is hardy in USDA zones 2-7.

    The beach rose bush's salt tolerance extends to road salt as well. This feature, along with its ease of care, makes this an excellent rose bush to grow along the side of a street. 

    Prune these rose bushes in late winter or early spring to manage their size and shape. At maturity, they generally stand 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. For even lower maintenance, if you have the room, treat them as wild shrubs and prune only to remove dead wood.

  • 04 of 07

    At Last Rose

    At Last rose blooming with an orange flower.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Developed by the breeder At Last, these rose bushes offer several beneficial trains. They're an easy-to-grow rose bush with a classic rose fragrance. Their flowers have a tea-rose form with attractive double blooms. At Last rose bushes are also disease-resistant and hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

    These rose bushes require very basic care. Simply prune and fertilize in the spring for beautiful flowers all summer long. They're also compact enough to grow well in a container, measuring about three feet by three feet at maturity.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    'Candy Oh!' Rose

    Candy Oh! Vivid red rose bush in bloom.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    '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 breeder series and are hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

    The flowers look their best when they first unfurl because that is when their yellow centers shine brightest. This shrub is such a great flower producer that as soon as one bloom starts to age, another opens to take its place. 

    Since they stand only 3 to 4 feet tall and wide at maturity, there's no pressing need to prune Candy Oh! rose bushes except to remove dead branches. Some pruning in late winter or early spring is commonly recommended to give the plants the shape you prefer, but it's not necessary to keep these rose bushes healthy and thriving.

  • 06 of 07

    'Smoothie' Oso Happy Rose

    Oso Happy Smoothie rose bush with a pink flower.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Like 'Candy Oh!', 'Smoothie' (Rosa 'Zlesak Poly3') is from the Oso Happy breeder of rose bushes. Both varieties have similar sizes, disease resistance, and minimal care requirements. It's also hardy in USDA zones 5-9. 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.

  • 07 of 07

    'Pink Supreme Flower Carpet'

    Pink Supreme carpet rose in bloom.

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    'Pink Supreme Flower Carpet' is part of the carpet rose series put out by the Australia-based breeder Tesselaar. The name "carpet rose" references how these plants are marketed as ground cover roses, but they're not the kind of ground cover you can walk on. 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' earns a spot on this list because it's so low maintenance. This variety is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Plant several of these easy-to-grow rose bushes on a patch of land where you don't plan to walk but where you would like to have color throughout the summer. To prune, simply shear off the top two-thirds of the plants in late winter or early spring.

Additional Tips for Growing Rose Bushes

Look for any of these easy-to-grow rose bushes, and you'll get to enjoy their beauty without giving up your weekends to care for them. Before you plant, be sure to review how to plant rose bushes for the best chance of success in your garden.

  • Where is the best place to plant a rose bush?

    A spot with full sun and rich, well-drained soil is ideal for planting rose bushes. In very hot regions, choose a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

  • Do rose bushes like sun or shade?

    In general, rose bushes prefer full sun for the healthiest plants with the most blooms. Some types of roses can handle part shade, but they won't flower as much with less than six hours of sunlight per day.

  • What is the best month to plant a rose bush?

    The best month to plant a rose bush depends on your region. In warmer climates, February and March are excellent months for planting roses. In colder climates, plant rose bushes after danger of frost has passed in April or May.

Article Sources
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  1. Rosa hybrida. NC State Extension.

  2. Rosa rugosa. Missouri Botanical Garden

  3. Rosa 'HORcogjil'. Missouri Botanical Garden

  4. Rosa 'Zlemartincipar'. Missouri Botanical Garden

  5. Rosa 'Zlesak Poly3'. Missouri Botanical Garden