by Rick Vuyst
Your garden can look rosy and riveting, and you can do it today! The past 20 years of plant breeding has yielded landscape roses that are hardy, prolific bloomers requiring little maintenance. Known as “shrub” roses, they are grown on their own root, making them versatile and durable. Roses are divas of the landscape, and need ample sunlight to blossom at their peak performance. Plant them in an area that gets at least eight hours of light during the growing season. Roses are also heavy feeders, so make sure to fertilize them during spring and summer with a complete rose fertilizer. If you take care of these classic beauties, they will flower beautifully well into October and even November.
Bear in mind that these new generation roses also are available as groundcover. Varieties like Drift roses can cover a vast amount of space with stunning color. Air circulation is vital to keeping roses healthy, so don’t over crowd them with other plants. Ornamental grasses are wonderful companions for roses, providing a complimentary backdrop for their vivid hues. Blue hues add allure to any landscape, making the sun-loving nepeta and lavender an excellent partner for your roses. Also consider Heliotrope, a deep purple perennial that will show off your roses at peak bloom in mid-summer.
When planting these riveting landscape roses, avoid mixing colors. Plant at least three (odd numbered plantings usually look the most natural) of the shade same together to create visually impactful display.
Today’s landscape and groundcover roses require regular pruning to keep plants compact, but there is no need to shear these “self-cleaning” flowers like we did the large hybrid tea roses in the past to get them to re-bloom; simply prune as needed to keep size in check a couple times a year. You can cut plants back annually by one-third to one-half to encourage fresh growth.