6 Easy-to-Grow Rose Bushes

You'll Have No Fuss but Plenty of Impact With These Shrubs

Plant names are sometimes confusing -- or even downright misleading -- but, for the most part, the easy-to-grow rose bushes in the list below live up to their alluring monikers. If you are relatively new to gardening and are already growing one of these plants (or something similar), you may wonder what all of the fuss is about. You have enjoyed your own low-maintenance shrub from the Rosa genus and assume that it represents the norm. "What's the big deal?" you ask, understandably.

Pau...MOREl Zimmerman, in his book, Everyday Roses: How to Grow Knock Out® and Other Easy-Care Garden Roses, provides some historical context to explain why easy-to-grow roses are, in fact, a big deal. Zimmerman observes that many of the roses vigorously marketed to the public in the past were hard to grow (Page 7). Gardeners stuck with the difficult task of trying to care for these “divas,” as Zimmerman calls them, became frustrated. And word got around: Roses are hard to grow.

But the new generation of rose varieties is standing this 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 Knock Out®, which is now the most popular rose bush brand in North America. 

Click on the link next to any of the pictures below to access further information for the plant in question.

  • 01 of 06
    Image showing what Rosa rugosa looks like.
    Rosa rugosa, the "beach rose," braves not only neglect but also salty conditions. David Beaulieu

    Before getting to the new generation of rose bushes, though, a few words are in order regarding an old standby in the toolkit of the landscaper seeking low-maintenance options. Rosa rugosa is a salt-tolerant plant. This rose bush tolerates salt so well, in fact, that is has been dubbed the "beach" rose. This tough plant is not fazed by poor soils, high winds, or drought, either.

    The beach rose bush's tolerance of salt is not limited to sea salt, though: It extends to road salt, as...MORE well. This feature -- along with the fact that it is a low-maintenance plant, overall -- suggests one possible use for the beach rose: namely, as a plant to grow along the side of a street. Indeed, this is how many growers use this versatile shrub.

    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 4-6 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 06
    Image: At Last rose.
    At Last is an easy-to-grow rose with good fragrance. David Beaulieu

    Here is another name that was carefully selected to reflect the value that growers find in it: "At Last." And what is it that At Last finally provides that rose growers have been seeking for so long? A combination of three qualities:

    1. It is an easy-to-grow rose bush.
    2. It bears the classic rose fragrance.
    3. Its flower takes on the tea-rose form exemplified in such popular roses as Tahitian Sunset, bearing attractive, double blooms.

     

    But there is more. This plant:

    1. Is disease-resistant
    2. Blooms all...MORE summer.
    3. Is compact enough to grow well in a container.

     

    Measuring approximately 3 feet x 3 feet at maturity, care for At Last is simple:

    1. Pruning information: prune in spring.
    2. Fertilizer information: fertilize in spring (Miracle Gro for Roses is fine).
  • 03 of 06
    Picture: Candy Oh! Vivid red rose flowers, in closeup.
    Grow Candy Oh! rose for no-fuss red flowers. David Beaulieu

    Candy Oh! Vivid Red may be single-flowered, but these easy-to-grow rose bushes make up for it by producing a multitude of blossoms -- "eye candy" for the landscape, if you will. They are part of the Oso Happy® series (see below). 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...MORE to take its place. 

    Standing 3-4 feet tall at maturity, with a similar spread, there is no pressing need to prune Candy Oh! (other than to remove dead branches). Some cutting back is commonly recommended to give the plants the form that you desire for them. Such 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 06
    Image of the pink rose, Oso Happy Smoothie.
    Oso Happy Smoothie is a pink landscape rose. David Beaulieu

    Smoothie and Candy Oh! both belong to the Oso Happy® series. Indeed, they are very similar rose bushes (having the same size, disease-resistance, minimal care requirements, etc.), except for flower color (neither offers a particularly nice fragrance). If you like pink, you will want to grow Smoothie.

    Smoothie is an exception on this list in terms of whether or not it is aptly named: It is not. The name is based on the marketing assertion that it is thornless (as in having smooth canes). Sadly,...MORE this claim has proven to be false.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Image: Rainbow Knock Out rose.
    Rainbow Knock Out rose is bicolored. David Beaulieu

    Rainbow Knock Out is another rose bush with single flowers. 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" moniker.

    Rainbow Knock Out measures about 3-4 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. Where should you make your pruning cut?...MORE Make it 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 going on in the middle. For the same reason, prune off branches that are rubbing against each other during your spring or early-summer pruning. Feel free to prune off dead branches at any time.

    It is easy to grow this rose bush partly because it is so disease-resistant, being successful in warding off:

    1. Powdery mildew
    2. Black spot
    3. Rust
  • 06 of 06
    Image: Pink Supreme carpet rose.
    Pink Supreme carpet rose is a relatively low-growing rose bush. David Beaulieu

    Pink Supreme Flower Carpet® is part of the carpet rose series put out by Tesselaar (not to be confused with the battery-powered car company, Tesla). 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...MORE 30 inches, while their spread is 40 inches.

    Pink Supreme makes this list for a different type of "low": 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.

Tips for Growing Rose Bushes

Choosing any of the easy-to-grow rose bushes discussed above allows you to enjoy the beauty of roses without having to give up your weekends to care for them. Zimmerman encapsulates this thought by saying that such plants “are nothing more than flowering shrubs” (as opposed to some special, pampered class separate from all other plants) and by assuring us that they require no more attention than any other flowering shrub (Page 7). But perhaps you have already been stuck with a variety of rose bush that is hard to grow? If so, you will profit from reading the tips on growing roses linked to above, advice meant to simplify the care demanded by the more finicky members of this much admired genus of plants.