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Horticulturist reviews new rose varieties

Sunny Knock Out rose
Sunny Knock Out rose

News Release Distributed 02/10/10

Landscape shrub roses like the popular Knock Out varieties are all the rage in the rose world right now, but Louisiana homeowners have a number of other great landscape shrub roses to consider, according to an LSU AgCenter horticulturist.

“The LSU AgCenter evaluates roses at the Hammond Research Station in Hammond and at Burden Center in Baton Rouge,” says Dr. Allen Owings. “Some of the recent All-America Rose Selection (AARS) winners are good performers for us in Louisiana.”

While most roses now sold fall into the landscape shrub category, in the past 5-10 years rose developers have released some nice floribunda roses that merit interest and increased use, Owings says.

AARS announced only one winner for 2010 – Easy Does It, a floribunda from Weeks Roses. The flower color is a mango, peach and apricot blend, and the petal count is 25-30 per bloom.

“Easy Does It performed very well in the AARS display garden at Burden Center in 2009,” Owings says. “In addition, it was named a People’s Choice award winner at the LSU AgCenter’s landscape horticulture field day held at the Hammond Research Station in 2009.

Knock Outs and other new shrub roses

Knock Out roses now are available in seven varieties, including the original cherry red along with pink, blush, rainbow, sunny (yellow), double pink and double red. The double forms of Knock Out roses have 18-22 petals per flower as compared to the 5-7 petals per flower on the single form varieties.

“While most of the attention is on Knock Out rose varieties, we need to be aware of other shrub roses to try,” Owings says. “These would include Home Run, Lady Elsie May, Carefree Celebration and Carefree Spirit.”

Home Run is from Weeks Roses. This variety is a little less vigorous than the Knock Out varieties, but the red flower color is slightly darker than the original Knock Out. “Home Run has been a very nice plant in LSU AgCenter rose evaluation trials,” he says.

Lady Elsie May is a shrub rose that is an AARS winner from 2005. It has semi-double, coral blooms and is a good landscape choice for mass plantings. Petal count per flower is 12-14. Flowers have a light fragrance.

Carefree Celebration has rich orange flowers and has a growth habit similar to Knock Out. Petal count is high for a landscape shrub rose, and blackspot resistance is excellent. Plants reach heights of 4 feet with 3-4 foot spreads. Bill Radler, the same person who developed the Knock Out varieties, is the developer of this plant.

Carefree Spirit is an AARS winner from 2009 and has performed “great” in LSU AgCenter evaluations, Owings says. Blackspot was almost non-existent on this plant in LSU AgCenter landscape trials in 2008 and 2009. The flower color is deep red with white accents.

Newer floribundas are some of the best

Some of the newer, good floribunda roses are Cinco de Mayo, Julia Child, Easy Going, Hot Cocoa, Livin’ Easy and Moondance, Owings says. His observations on each of these varieties follow.

– Cinco de Mayo has lavender flowers with a hint of rusty red-orange. Plants are maintained at a height of 3 feet. Uniqueness of bloom color is what sets Cinco de Mayo apart from other roses. The variety has some blackspot susceptibility when over-irrigated or when rainfall exceeds normal amounts.

– Julia Child has grown in popularity the past few years. It is well-accepted by nursery professionals. The plant has a medium-size growth habit. Flowers are buttery gold and have 35 petals. Flowers are fragrant. Julia Child is a former AARS winner and performs well in Louisiana.

– Easy Going was introduced in 1996 and is sold at garden centers in Louisiana. In the past, it has done well in the AARS display garden at Burden Center in Baton Rouge. It has a yellow bloom with a little bit of golden bronze. Flowers sit tightly on top of the foliage.

– Hot Cocoa is a chocolately orange- to dark red-flowering floribunda. It is an AARS winner from 2003. Flowers have a deep, rusty orange reverse. Good bloom size is also characteristic of this rose variety.

– Livin’ Easy is an older floribunda rose. It was released as an AARS winner in 1996 and has ruffled, apricot-orange flowers with 22-28 petals. Flowers have a fruity fragrance.

– Moondance is a Jackson and Perkins floribunda rose of the year. It has sweet, raspberry-scented, creamy white flowers. It has received good “roses in review” ratings from Gulf District members of the American Rose Society. A taller-growing rose, this variety reaches 5 feet tall in the landscape. It is a much more beautiful rose than its parent, the popular, white floribunda Iceberg.

“Landscape shrub roses and some floribunda roses generally are lower-maintenance plants when compared with hybrid tea and grandiflora roses,” Owings says. “They also can be grown under low irrigation and need less pruning and fertilization.”

The LSU AgCenter horticulturist says shrub and floribunda roses typically have reduced blackspot disease susceptibility.

“Roses need good bed preparation, full sun and a soil pH of 6.5,” Owings says. “Give some of these a try.

More information on ornamental plants that do well in Louisiana is on display at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station’s Web site at

Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 1/3/2011 1:33:39 PM

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