Although they have been around for a couple of years, the Knock Out series of roses still knock my socks off. I am very impressed by their repeat blooming and great disease resistance. You can see wonderful specimens in our display plantings in front of our garden center in Beltsville, along our frontage on US Route One–where they are thriving!
The Knock Out series offers several shades of pink (the original, sometimes called the “red” one, is a dark pink) plus two relatively new shades – a light yellow and pure white. They always sell out quickly, so get them while supplies last! Every time I see a rose garden that I love, the roses are always planted with perennials and evergreens to add seasonal interest.
The evergreens provide an excellent backdrop for the roses’ color and provide a good distraction from winter’s bareness; the perennials offer a plethora of color combinations and add interest in a range of flower heights and forms. My favorite matches include long-blooming companions such as Nepeta (Catmint), Gaura, Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower), Coneflower (Echinacea) and perennial grasses. I like to think of these sorts of groupings as a living bouquet.
Lest we forget: there are thousands of other varieties of roses besides the Knock Outs. Although our best selection is in April and May, we still have an assortment of roses in stock (best selection at the Beltsville store) which includes two greats: rugosas and climbers.
Rugosa roses are not hybridized and have kept their inborn resilience and tendency for clean foliage and fragrant, if simple, flowers. They are especially good for beach gardens and container gardening attempts due to their salt tolerance and degree of hardiness. Climbing roses don’t twine or cling like true vines, but I consider that to be a good thing – you don’t have to keep them from grabbing hold of anything that stands still for too long. Simply tie them up to whatever you want as they grow – hooks in a masonry wall, arbors over a walkway, obelisks and trellises, porch railings and window frames. They combine especially well with other climbers; I see them quite often with Clematis.
Remember that roses thrive on a diet of full sun (minimum 6 hours) and rich, well-drained soil. Clay soils hold nutrients fairly well, but to improve drainage, add organic matter such as topsoil, compost or any form of composted manure.
Feeding with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer does wonders, helping to provide nutrients required for reblooming, and Rose-tone is a great organic choice that’s gentle on the roots. This time of year, soil can dry out pretty quickly when baking in all that sun, so be sure to topdress with mulch, and water during dry spells, especially newly-planted roses.
By Miri Talabac – Behnke Nurseries Woody Plant Buyer