How are you possibly supposed to choose the right rose for your needs? There are so many options! Well, you could always go with the ones that will cause the least amount of trouble! We’ve compiled a list of roses that won’t worry you with black-spot and other diseases.
It seems like everybody knows about Knock Out, but some folks are looking for other colors and sizes and whatnot. For the far north, you just can’t beat Rugosa Roses. Of course, you can’t look up “Rugosa” in the catalog and find them — that would be no fun at all! They’re hiding out under different names. One of the very best, hardy into zone 3, is from the Canadian Explorer Series — deep rosy-pink William Baffin. In addition to great black spot resistance, it also stands up to powdery mildew like a champ. And it can be grown as either a shrub or a climber. William Baffin is a classic variety that customers have loved for many years now; give it our highest recommendation.
For zones 4-9, there are several shrub Roses (besides the Knock Out family) that are unbeatable for black spot protection. My personal favorite is Carefree Sunshine, a lovely yellow that repeats heavily all summer long. It was bred by William Radler, the same talented “amateur” (seems to me if you’ve bred the most blackspot-resistant Roses in human history, they might start calling you a professional, but that’s another subject for another day) who brought us the Knock Outs. To my mind, there are few yellow Roses more beautiful than this, especially in late afternoon when the setting sun makes the petals glow.
Poetry aside, most of the Meidilands are hardy through zone 4. Now, if you’re looking to landscape with Roses — by which I mean plant anywhere from 3 to 300 in a design — you simply cannot improve on the Meidilands. These Roses bloom their stems off from late spring till frost, and you need never do more than give ’em the occasional feeding. No deadheading, no pruning, NO spraying — it’s fair to say they practically grow themselves. For an unusual color with amazing bloom potential, recommend Coral. Va-va-va-voom, as we used to say!
For zones 5-9, you’ve got good old Livin’ Easy, a highly fragrant AARS Winner from the ’90’s. I never understood why Livin’ Easy didn’t get all the hoopla for beating black spot. Not only is it a lovely floribunda that changes flower color from pale apricot to pinkish-orange as it ages, but it’s got a fantastic fruity scent. It’s a British introduction, but for my money it can’t be topped for standing up to our long hot southern summers.
Now, there’s a great new series from Kordes Roses in Germany that you might mention to customers: the Vigorosas. These guys flower from spring till frost, and they’re very low-growing, so you could blanket the ground with them, put ’em in containers, tuck ’em here and there where you’ve got bare soil, etc. Kordes is a fine old name in Roses, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these new fellas — and the word from Europe is they stand up great to humidity, too.
One more good name for the south and midwest especially: Home Run. This beautiful Rose is mostly known for its mildew resistance, but in many warm climates, where heat goes, humidity follows. (There are times when I really miss that crisp Santa Barbara climate!) And Home Run is no slouch when it comes to black spot, either. It’s a handsome Rose, to boot.
Let’s face it: black spot is the #1 problem most of us have growing Roses. I’ve always said that if not for black spot, Roses would actually be one of the easiest flowering shrubs to grow, because they’re so hardy and adaptable. And a garden without Roses is like a night without stars.