Stillwater News Press

April 28, 2012

In the Garden 04-29-12

By LeeAnn Barton Special to the NewsPress
Stillwater NewsPress

— Looking for flowering, low maintenance groundcovers, gardeners like me are drawn to groundcover roses like bees to honey.

The first thing to remember is that a rose is a shrub, not a groundcover.

When compared to popular, traditionally planted groundcovers like golden moneywort or trailing vinca that hug the ground and spread to the point of invasiveness, roses are better thought of as low, mounding plants. Three breeders have trademarked groundcover roses, and shoppers and landscapers need to be aware of the differences.

Flower Carpet roses, bred and introduced by Anthony Tesselar are, I believe, the oldest on the market. They are offered in every color, but my experience showed some colors to be better performers than others; one cannot expect the Flower Carpet name to offer consistency. Plants as they matured grew from 2-3 feet tall, resembling anything but a carpet. Be aware that many of these are still offered in garden stores.

Flower Carpet now brands some of its introductions (Amber to be specific) as Next Generation. These have been bred to tolerate more heat and humidity as well as maintaining a low 18-inch stature.

Jackson & Perkins offer a few Blanket roses: Beach Blanket, Baby Blanket, Electric Blanket. Introduced from Kordes in Germany and winning many awards, the blanket, like the carpet, apparently refers to the number of flowers rather than the height of the shrub. There is nothing wrong with that so long as shoppers are aware they may be planting a blanket rose in the foreground that actually reaches 3-5 feet.

The latest to hit the market is the Drift rose. Bred by Conrad Pyle as were Knock Outs, Drifts are truly a low-mounding shrub growing 18 inches tall. They bloom almost non-stop with new flushes of flowers every five weeks. Foliage has been consistently clean in plants I’ve observed from Houston to Oklahoma City.

A cross between groundcover roses and miniature roses, Drift roses, I believe, will surpass the Knock Outs in home gardens.

One thing to note: While Drifts do come in a variety of colors and blooming, growth and reliability seem to be consistent, the size of the flower will vary according to color. If this makes a difference to you, review the website at www.conrad-pyle.com.

Groundcover roses require regular maintenance like any hybrid tea or grandiflora. In my mind regular maintenance can differ from high maintenance. Tune in next week for basic rose care.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at leeannbarton@sbcglobal.net.