Stillwater News Press

April 21, 2012

In the Garden 04-22-12

By LeeAnn Barton Special to the NewsPress
Stillwater NewsPress

— Roses are queen when it comes to cut flowers. Sure, they are common place in every florist’s refrigerator, but when designers arrange a bouquet, other flowers are used to highlight the roses.

Found in every nursery across the country, rose bushes are not new to the landscape; they have, however, gained a reputation of being difficult to grow and high maintenance in the garden. Granted there are varieties that seem to host every fungal, bacterial and insect pest known to man, but for the most part I believe roses no more difficult or disease prone than any other plant.

As with any garden addition, a little research and planning go a long way. Choosing varieties that tolerate heat and have genetic resistance to bacteria and fungus known to thrive in our humid environment makes roses no more difficult to grow than crepemyrtles. Often the best defense is a good offense.

Some breeders are aware of the bad rap roses have received and work on breeding disease resistance into their roses — hybrid teas included. Recognizing that a little information goes a long way, many companies target words in marketing that inform the gardener of these traits. Look for the specific phrase “disease resistant” in the foliage description; “glossy, clean, bright” is not the same as “disease resistant.”

Other breeders know roses have a reputation for high maintenance and market their brand as being the one rose that requires no care. Knock Out is one of these and has taken the shops by storm, but a close look reveals black spot on the foliage of most every Knock Out introduction.

Yes, they bloom through the summer, but so do many other roses. They still need dead-heading; they still need pruning.

Nevertheless, massive marketing has turned the heads of gardeners and corporate plant buyers alike to the point one has to search out a nursery that carries any roses but Knock Out. That is successful marketing. Take an average product and promote, promote, promote it until shoppers are sure it is the cream of the crop.

I have a soft place in my heart for roses in the garden and enjoy many named varieties in my own yard: hybrid tea roses, floribundas, miniatures, shrubs. Over the next few weeks I want to highlight some of my favorites as well as give you a realistic rundown on rose care. Removing the mystery in no way decreases the rose’s regal reputation.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at