Linda Benedict, Owings, Allen D.
Allen D. Owings
The new Drift series roses were created in response to increased demand for smaller, everblooming plants. These roses are from Conard-Pyle/Star Roses, the same company that produces the Knock Out series of low-maintenance landscape roses.
Drift roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures. From the former they kept toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness. From the miniatures they inherited size and the repeat-blooming nature. The low spreading habit of Drift roses makes them perfect for small gardens and combination planters.
The first colors available in the series were Coral, Pink, Red and Peach, all of which have been evaluated by the LSU AgCenter at the Hammond Research Station in Hammond and Burden Center in Baton Rouge since 2009. The newest colors are Apricot (double apricot blooms), Sweet (clear pink, double blooms) and Icy (pure white, double blooms).
Studies of Drift roses were conducted in a full-sun landscape trial at both the Burden and at the Hammond stations. A table showing results of this study is on the magazine’s website at www.LSUAgCenter.com. At both locations, plants were placed in raised rows of silt loam soil about 5 feet apart in a randomized complete block design with each variety having 5 plants replicated in two blocks. Supplemental irrigation was provided via a drip system. Plants were fertilized in early March with 12-6-6 and again in midsummer at the rate of 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Pine straw mulch was maintained at a depth of 2 inches. Hand weeding along with spot applications of glyphosate herbicide were used for post-emergent weed control. Pre-emergent weed control was done with Amaze granular herbicide. Plants were not pruned or pinched nor were dead flowers removed during the first year after planting. Subsequently, plants were pruned by removing 15-20 percent of terminal and side-growth branches in mid-February and early September.
The Pink and Red varieties of Drift roses are the best landscape performers in Louisiana when only visual quality ratings are considered. Blackspot is a less significant problem than Cercospora leaf spot fungus on these roses. The amount of disease is low and should not be a major limitation in variety selection. Plants maintain uniform growth habits from one to another.
All six of the evaluated varieties bloom from spring to early frost. Ranging from scarlet red to bright soft peach, they provide the gardener with a span of color. Drift roses have five flower cycles yearly in south Louisiana. The spring bloom in April and the fall bloom in October, as with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance. The late spring to early summer second bloom is also impressive.
Drift roses should be planted in a well-prepared landscape bed receiving full sun. Fall is a good time to plant. Space individual plants a minimum of 3 feet apart, but 4-5 feet apart is better long-term. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0-6.5. Drift roses should be fertilized in the spring with a slow-release or timed fertilizer, which releases nutrients to the plant when the plant needs it most. Another application in late summer would help plants bloom better into the fall, especially in new landscape beds where nutrients may be lacking.
Mulching helps to buffer the cycle from wet to dry soil, keeps the feeder roots from drying out and helps to establish roots more quickly.
Allen D. Owings, Professor, Hammond Research Station, Hammond, La.
(This article was published in the winter 2012 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)