I am NOT a rose person. You know them. The people that have 20 rose bushes in neat rows in their front lawn.
I LOVE plants, but roses are usually toward the bottom of my list of plants to experience. My husband dislikes roses so much he forbids me to plant one at our house (I tried to “hide” a white carpet rose in our landscape once, it mysterically vanished). He hates that they hurt him. When you work in landscape clean up roses can be brutal. So, four or five years ago when all the hype about the ‘Knock Out Rose’ began, needless to say I was sceptical.
Part of the fun of gardening is trying out new plants, right? With shovel in hand I headed to a display bed in the parking area and planted five Knock Out roses. We watered them that day, cause it was July (that is when people who work at garden centers have time to plant). Then we completely ignored them from that moment on. I did notice them every once in a while as I pulled in the parking lot, but other than that nada. Zilch. Absolutely no attention was given to these babies.
That first summer, I did not fall in love with them. It was the next summer that they KNOCK-ED our socks off! They bloomed like crazy from mid- May to November. Customers were coming in asking what the blaze of bright pinkish-red was in the parking lot. At that point and then only did we start giving them a little love. We did two things. First, we deadheaded them and wow did they bloom longer and look better close-up. Second, we cut then about 8-10″ from the ground the next spring.
So, to date the Knockout rose is the only rose I really have fallen for, all because it blooms its head off and needs little care. Yes, it still has thorns. No, I am still not allowed to have one at home (unless I want the incredible vanishing rose again). Beyond thorns, there are a few tidbits to remember.
Japanese beetles still think the leaves among the yummiest on the planet. We combat this by using Milk Spore on the grass near our roses and through good old-fashioned hand picking. Amazing but true. We physically remove the beetles from the leaves in the early morning.
The can suffer during a cold hard winter. The stems may dieback or the plant may actually die overwinter, if it is exceedingly cold. Combat this by putting 3-6″ of mulch around the stem of the plant in the fall, if you rose is in a very open windy area. Be sure to remove the mulch in early spring.
Though labeled black spot resistant, they can still get black spot especially if conditions are right. Be on the look out and if you see yellow leaves or black spots, thin about applying an organic fungicide and clean up the the fallen leaves. Remember most plants like their roots not their leaves watered.
There are a double, triple, pink, blushing pink and rainbow Knockout roses these days. I must admit, the best success for us came from the original Knockout rose. The doubles, triples and rainbows at ColorScapes showed less cold tolerance.
One last thing! I cannot believe I forgot, must be becasue I am writing this in March! FRAGRANCE. They smell wonderful! Rose lover or not, this IS the rose to experience in 2009.