The people at Conard Pyle-home of the Star Roses and many landscape-type shrub roses-are promoting their Sunblaze miniflora roses as a chrysanthemum alternative. The Sunblaze Series comes in the full spectrum of rose colors, including various yellows and oranges (there are now 15 varieties). To inaugurate this new use for hardy shrub roses, this fall Conard Pyle has introduced 'Sunblaze Autumn', a brilliant red-orange.
In size, the miniflora roses fall somewhere between floribundas and miniature roses. Plants are disease resistant, and they bloom all season long. Look for these 18- to 20-inch-tall plants in 1-gallon pots at garden centers. Use Sunblaze roses like mums-in flower beds and foundation plantings, where the plants will bloom until hard frost.
Unlike mums, these plants are very cold hardy (to USDA Zone 4) so the display will be repeated year after year, and they are relatively maintenance-free. Prune plants back to 4 or 5 inches tall late in winter, as you would a hybrid tea, then fertilize generously with compost, manure or a rose formula. If you want to repeat the heavy floral display in the second autumn, prune again in late summer, about six weeks before you want them to bloom, then feed and water well.
During hot, dry weather, spray plants with clear water to help prevent spider mites, the bane of all miniature roses. If spider mites become a problem, spray plants, particularly leaf undersides, with insecticidal soap.