A major rose project at the LSU AgCenter is a cooperative effort with Texas A&M University and Texas nurseries to study Earth Kind roses.
Although TAMU originated the project a number of years ago to locate the best "yellow rose of Texas," the program now tests and recommends rose varieties regionally and nationally for low-maintenance landscapes, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
The tests include evaluation of old garden and modern rose cultivars, particularly those belonging to the shrub category. Characteristics being considered in these evaluations are low irrigation needs, minimum pruning requirements, desirable flowering characteristics, minimum insect susceptibility and resistance or low susceptibility to blackspot and other devastating rose diseases.
Initially, 11 varieties were named Earth Kind roses, but an additional two varieties were included in both 2006 and 2007.
The 11 original Earth Kind roses are Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink, Carefree Beauty (Katie Road Pink), Climbing Pinkie, Else Poulsen, Knock Out, Marie Daly, Mutabilis, Perle d’Or, Sea Foam and The Fairy.
In 2006, Spice and Duchesse de Brabant were added to the list. In 2007, Ducher and Georgetown Tea were added.
Another 20 rose varieties are being studied for possible recommendation for the southern United States, and 30 more are being evaluated for possible recommendation nationally.
The national evaluation underway in Louisiana is at LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center in Baton Rouge. Besides Texas, other participating states include Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, Nebraska and Kansas.
The majority of the varieties being studied nationally are Griffith Buck roses, named after Dr. Griffith Buck, who conducted rose breeding at Iowa State University for 30 years. Buck’s roses were bred for cold hardiness and other factors. He named 93 varieties.
"One interesting note about many Buck roses is their ability to bloom in partial shade and shady conditions," Owings said.
Earth Kind roses come as dwarf shrubs, small shrubs, medium shrubs, large shrubs and climbers. Owings lists the varieties and explains their characteristics:
Dwarf shrubs. Marie Daly is a polyantha rose with semi-double, pink, fragrant flowers. Bloom occurs April through November, and plants generally reach heights of 3-4 feet with an equal spread.
The Fairy is a popular dwarf shrub in Louisiana. It has double form light pink flowers with blooming period from the spring through the fall. It is also a polyantha rose and has a height of 3-4 feet with a spread of about 4 feet.
Small shrubs. Caldwell Pink has a double form flower with lilac pink petals. It belongs to the found rose classification. It reaches heights of 4 feet with a 3-foot spread.
Knock Out is an All-America Rose Selection from 2000. It is usually categorized as a small shrub rose with advertised heights of 4 feet. In Louisiana, this variety can easily reach 6-8 feet if left unpruned. You can maintain Knock Out at 4-5 feet with regular pruning. Knock Out has cherry-red single to semi-double flowers.
Perle d’Or is a rose with fragrant peach colored flowers. This small shrub is a polyantha and reaches heights of 5-6 feet with a spread of 3-4 feet.
Medium shrubs. Belinda’s Dream is a pink rose with double flowers. This variety was named a Texas Superstar plant in 2002 and is very popular among Louisiana rose enthusiasts. It reaches heights of 5-6 feet.
Else Poulson has semi-double flowers with pink petals. This medium shrub is a floribunda rose and has a mature height of 5 feet with a spread of 4 feet. It does not perform quite as well in Louisiana as other Earth Kind roses.
Katy Road Pink is also sold in the nursery trade as Carefree Beauty. This medium shrub has semi-double pink flowers and reaches heights of 5-6 feet.
Duchesse de Brabant produces very full rose pink flowers. This medium shrub is a tea rose and reaches heights of 6 feet with a spread of 4-5 feet.
Spice has very double flowers with blushy pink petals. This medium shrub is a China rose with a height of 5 feet and a spread of 4 feet.
Georgetown Tea was found in Georgetown, Texas, by noted Texas horticulturist Bill Welch. This medium shrub has dark salmon pink flowers that fade to lilac pink. It is a tea rose and reaches heights of 5-6 feet with a spread of 4 feet.
Ducher has pure ivory white flowers. This medium shrub is a China rose but smaller than other China roses. Heights of 4-5 feet can be expected with a spread of 3-4 feet.
Large shrub. Mutabilis is also called the butterfly rose. Single flowers are yellow-red-orange. It is a China rose and has heights of 10 feet with spreads of 6-8 feet.
Climbers. Climbing Pinkie produces semidouble, fragrant flowers with rose pink petals. It is classified as a climbing polyantha and is listed as reaching heights of 12 feet with a 6-foot spread.
Sea Foam has creamy white double, fragrant flowers. This climbing shrub reaches heights of 8 feet with a 4-foot spread.
Owings says the increasing popularity and recognition of Earth Kind roses is catching on with gardening consumers. In addition, the introduction of Knock Out and other popular landscape shrub roses has increased interest in our national flower.
"The thought that rose growing is ‘hard work’ is no longer true," Owings said, advising, "Give some of these varieties a try in your Louisiana landscapes."
For related gardening and landscape information, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Also, contact the county agent in your local parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: www.louisianalawnandgarden.org.
Contact: Allen D. Owings (225) 578-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or email@example.com.