Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
October, 2003
Regional Report

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Blushing Knock Out is a gentle, changeable shell pink.

Another Knock Out!

Blushing Knock Out! Where was this rose last spring when I wanted a pretty pink one with certain other qualities, including lots of flowers and easy care on a reasonable-sized bush? This rose is a new introduction from Star Roses. The flowers begin light pink and then wash to pale shell pink. And like its popular namesake Knock Out, the plant is a sturdy, disease-resistant, low-maintenance landscape rose.

Modern breeding efforts are targeting plants with better garden performance as well as gorgeous blooms, so new introductions are becoming easier to grow without a lot of routine spraying and special treatment. This trend is encouraging me to look at roses with a fresh eye.

Least-Toxic Disease Control
However, since disease resistant does not always translate to disease proof, I am also looking at the most effective, least-toxic methods of pest and disease control for roses. For example, I have heard some exciting reports of gardeners successfully using compost tea and, of all things, milk diluted with water as disease preventive sprays on roses -- and other plants as well.

Hardiness Matters
My other pressing concern about roses is winter hardiness. In zone 7 or warmer, this is not such an issue. And some of the new landscape roses, such as Blushing Knock Out, are considered hardy into zone 5 without special care. This is a real boon to busy gardeners.

Keep in mind, with the traditional grafted hybrid tea roses, hardiness is still a different story. In zone 6b, your grafted hybrid tea roses should be okay if they are healthy overall, if the graft is planted deep underground, and if the plant is well mulched in late fall (and if you have nerves of steel).

But in zone 5 and further north, you definitely need to mound soil around the base of the plant and take other special precautions to try to baby your grafted hybrid teas through the deep freeze months.
And if you live in the snow belt and happen to have one of those delightful patio tree roses, you will be burying it horizontally in a deep trench or bringing it into a dark, sheltered-but-cool place (say 35 degrees F) for the winter -- talk about touchy! (I have highlighted an article under Web Finds that recommends some ways you can protect roses in colder climates.)

Gardening is always a risk and a gamble, the payoff so often fleeting and yet wonderful. Life is too short. I think I'll go order some more roses.

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