Knockout roses produce nonstop clusters of huge flowers and are popular and easy to grow in the landscape. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service
May 3, 2014 11:03:15 PM
Flowers are always high on the gift list for Mother's Day, and rose plants for the garden are a great way to remember the day year after year.
There are lots of roses from which to choose. Shrub roses are really popular and pretty easy to grow and maintain in the landscape. Knockouts may be the most well-known of this group.
Knockout roses produce flower clusters nonstop in huge numbers. Flower colors range from red to pink and yellow; blooms can be 3 1/2 inches in diameter. This plant has multiseason interest. The foliage is a dark, glossy green in the spring and summer, and it puts on a deep maroon-purple show in the fall.
Knockouts can grow into large shrubs that need to be cut back for the best landscape performance. Prune them early each spring, cutting them back by about 50 percent. Cut the canes at a 45-degree angle facing out to prevent them from holding water. In late July or early August, prune again by about one third. This pruning stimulates vigorous growth the next spring and maintains abundant flowering through the first hard frost.
If your Mom is an experienced gardener, then she may appreciate receiving a hybrid tea rose. Unlike the shrub-type roses, hybrid tea roses typically produce a single flower at the end of each stem and are perfect for cutting and enjoying in a vase. One of the most attractive features of these roses is the number of petals on each flower. Some selections can have up to 60 petals per flower.
There is a dizzying array of tea rose colors to bring home from the garden center. In Mississippi, hybrid tea roses can suffer from soil-borne problems, but there is a solution. Hybrid tea roses that have been grafted onto a fortuniana rootstock display improved vigor and survivability.
Hybrid tea roses are susceptible to leaf diseases such as black spot and Cercospora leaf spot in the spring and fall. Controlling these diseases is essential for high-quality roses. Commercial formulations with either propiconazole or chlorothalonil can provide effective control. Always follow label instructions.
For successful plants
Plant roses in a location that receives at least five hours of full sun each day. Morning sun is most beneficial. Incorporate good organic matter into the landscape bed at planting, raising the bed above the normal grade to improve drainage around the plant crown. Keep the soil moisture consistent using drip irrigation or soaker hoses, and try to avoid overhead watering.
Pruning roses is actually very easy, but the hard part is getting over the feeling that it's necessary. Always use bypass pruners because they produce the best and cleanest cut, like scissors cutting paper. Anvil pruners, while less expensive, do a great deal of damage by crushing the stem of the rose. Crushed stems are not attractive and can let disease organisms into the plant.
Always protect yourself when pruning roses. Heavy-duty leather gloves are a must, along with long sleeves to keep those pesky thorns at bay.
A rosarian friend of mine has told me on numerous occasions that growing roses should be an enjoyable hobby. Don't make it a job. And have a happy Mother's Day!