Earthkind: Easy to Grow Roses for Your First Rose Garden
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Roses come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ease of care. There are roses that require weekly spraying with fungicides to look their best, and, just as importantly, there are roses that can flourish with little or no care. In a way, roses are like cars when it comes to the amount of trouble they are. There are cars that are very expensive, very fast and very temperamental. Not everyone can own a Porsche or a Ferrari. Not everyone wants to own such cars. It takes an inclination to tinker, a knowledgeable mechanic and lots of money to fall in love with some models of cars. And lots of time.

But it is also possible to latch onto a reliable car that, with minimal care, will last 100,000 miles. And so it is with roses.

The purpose of this article is to talk to you about some easy to grow roses that anyone putting in their first garden can successfully grow--and be proud of. Roses that take minimal care to produce maximum results. Roses for people who have never grown roses before. And roses that will cause your neighbors to come over to see how you are doing it.

Texas A&M has a continuing research project to find these roses. The roses that make the cut get their "EarthKind" designation. The process they go through to find these roses is interesting. First, they asked rose growers for the names of easy to care for roses. They then planted several examples of the roses in test gardens around the state. They did not water the roses. They did not fertilize the roses. They did not prune the roses. They did not even spray the roses--for insects or for fungus. And, believe it or not, some roses did fine under this intentional neglect. These are the roses that earned the EarthKind designation. Now, I am not recommending you just plant these roses and walk away. But these are roses that will survive if you do that. And they will flourish if you give them just minimal care.

What do I mean by minimal care? Plant them where they get a minimum of six hours of sun. Eight is better. Full sun is best. Give them an inch of water a week. Plant them in raised beds. Add three or four inches of mulch to the top of the rosebed. Try to fertilize them a couple of times a year with organic fertilizer. Sit back and relax (and read the rest of my webpages on rose growing).

Below is an alphabetical list of the EarthKind roses, with my comments.

Belinda's Dream: This rose gets about four feet high in my garden. It is considered a shrub rose. The blossoms are a vivid pink and the bush produces lots of blooms throughout the year. Blackspot is minimal and insects do not bother this rose. This is a very pretty rose.

Caldwell Pink: (Now shown as Pink Pet) In my garden this rose gets about four feet high, and at least that wide. This is a perfect landscape rose. It is always covered in blooms. No fungus. No insects. The blooms are pink and the blooms come in clusters that look great from the street. Unfortunately, no fragrance. Still, this rose is A plus. Highly recommended for every garden where a mass of pink color is needed.

Climbing Pinkie This rose can be trained as a climber or allowed to grow without support as a gigantic, cascading shrub. In my garden it is five to six feet high and ten feet or so across. Gets some blackspot, but shrugs it off. Blooms are pink. The bush usually is in bloom, but the biggest flush of blooms occurs in the spring.

Else Poulsen: I haven't grown this rose. Blooms are pink. Size is listed as five feet by five feet.

The Fairy: This rose is only about three feet high, but it can spread out. It has wicked thorns. But it is always covered in pink blooms. Blackspot rarely bothers it and insects leave it alone. It is constantly in bloom, even in the heat of the summer. This is a great rose, but watch where you plant it because of the thorns.

Katy Road Pink: (Now shown as Carefree Beauty) This may be my favorite rose. It easily gets five feet by five feet. Maybe even six by six. The plant is constantly in bloom. Blooms are pink and have a great shape. Plant this rose in the front and I guarantee you will stop the cars driving by. This rose is fantastic. Don't pass it up.

Knock Out: I got two Knock Outs in the Spring of 2003. They have been fantastic. Always in bloom. No blackspot. Great color on the blooms. For now, I'm growing my in clay pots on the back porch, with watering done by a drip system. Blooms are red. Size is listed as four by four if you plant them in the ground. Highly recommended.

Marie Daly: I just bought this rose in the fall of 2002. It is doing great in early 2003. I'll give it a thorough review after a year. Blooms are pink. Size listed is three feet by three feet.

Mutablis: This rose is also known as the Butterfly Rose. It is constantly in bloom and the rose petals make it look like a flock of butterflies have alighted. Another interesting thing about this rose is that the flowers change colors. The petals start out yellow, change to orange, then to pink and, finally, to a crimson red. Neither blackspot nor insects bother this rose. Highly recommended.

Perle d'Or: I haven't grown this rose. Blooms are peach. Size is listed as four by four.

Sea Foam: I haven't grown this rose. Blooms are white. Size is listed as three feet high by six feet wide.

Please try a rose garden and please try these roses as your first effort. You won't be disappointed.

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