The Q&A Archives: Roses As Foundation Planting

Question: I am thinking of planting a few rose bushes as the backdrop to my flower garden. Are there any that are evergreen, and grow to at least four feet tall? Also, can I plant this fall, or do I need to wait until spring?

Answer: There are no 'evergreen' roses, although some will retain their leaves during the winter months if the temperature remains above freezing. This isn't always good for the plant, however, and old foliage can harbor diseases so we usually recommend the old leaves be removed at the end of the season if they don't fall off by themselves. Roses really need a period of dormancy (resting) if they are to perform well. An exception might be rosa rugosa, an heirloom type rose shrub often used as hedging or as groundcover. You might consider a different kind of shrub for a backdrop, one that remains evergreen and still provides colorful blooms during the summer months. One suggestion is Abelia grandiflora (Glossy Abelia). Another is Escallonia. Both these plants retain their leaves, can be pruned to maintain a 4' screen or backdrop, and both provide seasonal bloom. Fall is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs. Once you find exactly the right plant you can get them in the ground right away.

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