The Peggy Martin rose: A delicate but tough Southern gem

By Heather Kirk-Ballard

LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Peggy Martin roses are in their prime right now. If you’ve spotted the profuse, deep pink bloomers climbing on trellises or fences this spring, you’ve seen one of the most beautiful, easy-care roses of the South.

Peggy Martin is a multi-stemmed, deciduous, woody vine with a twining and trailing habit of growth. It features showy clusters of fragrant, deep pink flowers and dark green foliage. The flowers are an excellent choice for cutting and bringing indoors.

There is a unique story behind this resilient rose, which survived two weeks of being submerged in saltwater after Hurricane Katrina.

When the devastating hurricane hit Louisiana in 2005, Peggy Martin was living in Plaquemines Parish, which is located southeast of New Orleans. Martin returned to her home after the storm to find only two surviving plants. One was a climbing rose that had been started from cuttings and was passed down to her.

William Welch, a professor and Texas AgriLife horticulturist, was a guest of Martin before the hurricane hit. A three-time alumnus of LSU, Welch was fond of the climbing, thornless rose and had gotten cuttings of it.

After the hurricane, he wanted to do something to give back to the areas devastated by the storm and do something kind for Martin. He propagated and sold the plant, naming it the Peggy Martin rose. Some of the profits went to a restoration fund for historic Gulf South gardens devastated by the hurricane.

Peggy Martin roses are a Southern favorite due to their ease of care, disease resistance and gorgeous, prolific, pink blooms. The rose produces clusters of small flowers in early spring and can rebloom in the fall. The blooms repeat, but do not continuously bloom. These semi-thornless, climbing roses are often planted along fence lines and trellises and can grow 6 to 15 feet in height and width.

The roses should be planted in full sun in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. They should be fertilized with a rose or complete fertilizer in the spring and again in the fall. They can be pruned for shaping or to remove dead canes and vines. This is best done in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed.

Peggy Martin roses are climbers and should be provided a support to grow on, as they spread widely. They can be secured to a support and trained to grow up and over fences, trellises or walls. This rose has few pests and diseases to worry about. Supplemental irrigation and watering during times of drought is recommended during extended dry periods.

Plants can be easily found at local retail garden centers and are a wonderful addition to home gardens. Cuttings root easily, so if you know someone with a Peggy Martin, take a 6-to-8-inch-long cutting from this season’s growth. Cut the stem at an angle just below a leaf node. Remove lower leaves and stick the stem into a potting mix composed of 50% fine pine bark, 10% sand and 40% perlite. Be sure to moisten the potting mix well before inserting the cuttings.

You can use a rooting hormone to improve rooting success; follow label instructions carefully. Use a stick or pencil to make a hole, place the cutting in the soil and then firm the soil around the stem. Water in well, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. You can help maintain the humidity for the cutting by putting a clear plastic bag over the pot.

Roses generally take six to 10 weeks to root and can be placed in larger containers or outdoors when rooted.

Pink flowers.

The Peggy Martin rose produces tiny clusters of deep pink, fragrant flowers in the springtime. Photo by Anna Ribbeck/LSU AgCenter

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The Peggy Martin rose adds a striking element to landscapes. Photo by Anna Ribbeck/LSU AgCenter

Peggy Martin Rose at Peggy Martins House.

Peggy Martin roses at Peggy Martin’s house. Photo provided by Pierre Bouchee and Jan Pesses/St. Tammany Parish Master Gardeners Association

Roses hanging over a fence.

The Peggy Martin rose grows well along fences, walls and trellises. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter

3/31/2022 3:06:49 PM
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