Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Myth...Roses are fussy and difficult to grow.

This is what you hear a lot. I have always loved roses especially when you see pictures of them in a mixed border with other flowers or roses climbing the side of a house. You know what I'm talking about, that lovely English cottage garden with the white picket fence and rose covered arbors. Who doesn't love that look? I know I do and always have. So when we bought our first home I knew the kind of garden I wanted to have. Problem...what about those hard to grow fussy roses?

Well there is good news! It is all about WHICH roses you choose. Before I started researching I thought a rose was a rose was a rose. I had no idea that there are so many classes of roses! Teas, Chinas, Noisettes, Hybrid Musk, Gallica,Polyantha, Shrub, Hybrid Teas, Floribunda, Rugosa, Damask, Moss, and many more. I had no idea so many types of roses existed or what the difference was. Roses are also then divided into two groups, Modern and Old Garden. Old Garden Roses are rose classes created before 1867 and include Teas, Chinas, Noisettes, Bourbons, Damask, Centifolia, Moss, Gallica, and Ramblers. Modern roses are those class of roses which were created after 1867 and include Hyb Tea, Floribunda, Hyb Musk, Hyb Rugosa, Minatures, Polyantha, Groundcover, and Shrubs (which include such roses as the famous David Austin Roses).

Now not all roses do well everywhere and some are just plain fussy and need more pampering such as those Hyb Teas you see at box stores and such. Of the two groups Modern and Old Garden, the Old Garden roses tend to be the most disease resistant, heartier, and less fussy. Once established they can almost thrive on neglect. The Modern classes can be a little different. However that is not always the case, some are also very disease resistant and thrive on little to no pruning, feeding or watering. Though it is not ideal to just let your roses go, the fact is they can and will flower their pretty little heads off. Now Hyb Tea roses probably of all roses need the most attention, they are prone to disease and are heavy feeders, who also like to be pruned hard to really do their best. This I believe is the class of rose that makes people think based on this one class of rose that ALL roses are this way and that just is not the case! Like I said before it is all about picking the right rose for your area. Some roses need the cold weather, and some hate the hot weather, some love it hot and dry where others classes love hot and humid. Some cannot take a cold harsh winter and will die. So it is very important to do your research to find out which rose classes do best in your area.

Since I live in hot humid South Carolina I will discuss those roses that do well here and that I grow. My desire is to get the information out to folks who perhaps live in the Charleston area who are interested in growing roses but don't know where to start. The first thing is don't expect to go out to the local garden shop or nursery and expect to find these roses. That is the saddest part, because I believe people don't know much about roses and to many when they think of roses it's the hyb teas and so that is what the nurseries buy. That same class of rose you will find when getting a dozen roses. However, their are soo many other classes of roses that come in so many different sizes and shapes that people are just not aware of and that are not fussy or difficult to grow. The same kind I mentioned in the beginning when you picture an English Cottage Garden. So to get those roses most of us have to order them from vendors that grow all those roses I listed above. If you are lucky enough to live by one watch out they are addicting!

Roses that I grow that thrive in our hot humid summers are teas, chinas, noisettes, and hyb musks. These roses love our mild winters and hot humid summers. I also have a couple polyanthas and a row of knockouts in front of my house (I will discuss knockouts in another post). I have been growing the tea, noisette, polyantha and china roses for 4 years, going on my fifth year this May, the hyb musks are going on there second year. The following is a list of the roses their class and description and how they have performed for me thus far:

  • Lamarque (noisette)- Moderate to large climbing rose, 12-20 ft, z 7-9, white to light lemon color flowers of med. size double in form, excellent disease resistance, repeat bloom, fragrant. (This is my very favorite rose, I just love it! So healthy, vigorous but not crazy, blooms spring into December, wonderful clean citrus scent, beautiful flowers)
  • Blush Noisette (noisette)- shrub 4-8ft some can be grown as small climber but mine wants to be nothing but a shrub, z 6-9, very fragrant, light pink flowers that are cupped and double and bloom in sprays is repeat blooming. ( This is another rose I adore, very fragrant and wafts in the air, very healthy also and a strong grower. The one thing that doesn't thrill me with this rose is the spent flowers tend to hang on so I dead head this rose a lot to keep it neat looking. It is a must have rose for me despite that)
  • Ducher (china)- shrub, 3-5ft, z 7-9, fragrant, repeat bloom, white/ ivory flowers, light green foliage. ( This rose is yet again another favorite. Have had her going on 4 years and she really put on some growth this last year for me. I think she will be more towards the 5ft mark for me. Very healthy, wonderful scent, and good repeat, lovely rose, said to be only only true white china rose)
  • Hermosa (china)- small shrub, 3-4ft, beautiful lavender-pink double cupped flowers that have a slight peppery fragrance to them, repeat bloom. (This rose tends to get black spot frequently and has a twiggy growth, have had going on 4 years but still remains fairly small. However, I still love the beautiful pink flowers, lovely shape, just a cute little rose. I've been thinking of trying another and see if it does better in another area)
  • Mrs B R Cant (tea)- large shrub 5-8 ft or larger, z 7-9, full cabbagey flower that is a med. pink with silvery edges and a darker pink on the underside, said to be very fragrant but I cannot smell a thing, good repeat bloom, very good disease resistance. ( I wasn't too sure about this one at first, slow to get started and was prone to black spot the first year or two but then it got herself together and has really put on some growth the last 2 years, now she is very healthy and blooms her head off. Flowers are just gorgeous but sadly I cannot smell her though she is said to be very fragrant. I love this rose a must in the garden for me!)
  • Climbing Pinkie (polyantha)- moderate climber 5-7ft or more or graceful arching shrub if left alone, z 6-9, repeat with two big flushes in spring and fall, small pink semi-doubled flowers that are fragrant, it is also nearly thornless. ( I really love this rose, have one planted in the corner of a post and rail fence by the driveway and in spring she is a real showstopper! She throws out these huge long arching canes that are so easy to work with since there are few if thorns. Does tend towards some bs but nothing too bad and quickly puts on new leaves. Another must have rose!)
  • Duchesse de Brabant (tea)- shrub 4-6ft, z 7-9, very good disease resistance, very cupped pink flowers that tend to nod, fragrant like raspberries, healthy light green foliage, almost always in bloom. (I know I say this a lot but this another favorite of mine that I cannot do without in my garden. Extremely healthy, beautiful flowers and never stops blooming what more could you ask for in a rose! I also think she will get big she puts on a lot of growth every year.)
  • Sombreuil (Colonial White) (large flowering climber)- Climber 8-15ft, z 6-9, extremely thorny, fairly healthy, very fragrant creamy white flowers that are large flat and quartered, good repeat bloom. Thorns tend to get stiff with age. Good as a pillar rose, or trained fanned out along a wall or fence, or over an arbor. (She is fanned out on a fence for me using wires spaced about 6 inches apart. She throws out some monster canes that are wicked thorny and she does tend to get a fair amount of bs for me. However the flowers are amazingly beautiful, very strong tea fragrance that I just can't get enough of. A very good repeat bloomer for me with a big flush in spring and fall)
  • Madame Alfred Carriere (noisette)- large vigorous climber 15-20ft, z6-9, light pink fading to almost white, extremely fragrant, cupped and double nodding blooms. It too is nearly thornless, making it easy to work with. Repeat bloom. (I have had this rose going on either 3 or 4 years now I forget. I planted it next to a med sized tree that I want it to climb up. It is on the east facing side of the tree. I don't know what it is but this rose hasn't done much in the last 2 years. I am hoping that this year will be the year for it to do something as it has yet to be vigorous in my garden. Flowers do have an amazing scent though so I will keep it around for now or maybe move her)
  • Mrs Dudley Cross (tea)- shrub 3-6 ft, z 7-9, compact shrub with double delicate shaped flowers that are a light yellow and pink blend. Nearly thornless and healthy. Fragrant and repeat bloomer. (I have 2 of these, the first has not done good at all but when in bloom I just adored her so that I had to get another and try her in another spot. That one has been doing really well and is going on her second year in a new bed. Spring through summer her blooms are a light yellow with pretty pink edges but in fall her blooms are much more pink with very little yellow. I really adore this rose and can't wait to see how she does this year!)
  • Buff Beauty (hyb musk)- low spreading shrub or small climber 5-7ft, z 6-9, med. very double flowers that are a rich, muted apricot blend, fragrant, improves flowering with age. (I really love this rose though it is only going on its second year in my garden, so far I love her! Really love the clusters of apricot blooms that in its first year put out blooms all year. I have this one to climb over a swing arbor so we shall see how she does)
  • Cornelia (hyb musk)- climber or specimen plant 4-7ft, z 6-9, grown as a specimen plant she throws out large arching canes giving her a graceful look with thick dark foliage covered in clusters of small coral buds opening pink with golden stamens. (This is also a new rose for me going on her second year. She was swamped by other flowers last year and forgotten about but still despite hardly being watered she has done fine. Can't wait to see how she does.)
  • The Charlestonian (noisette)- short climber under 10ft or large shrub 5+ft, z7-9, sprays of small white fragrant blooms that bloom through out the season. (Again new going on second year. Have it trained as a small pillar and in its first year it has gotten HUGE! This is one outstanding noisette rose, very healthy, vigorous, and strong tea scent. I love her, and very fitting for Charleston, southern charm at its best!)
  • Belinda's Dream (shrub)- shrub 3-6ft, z 5-9, fast growing upright shrub, blue-green foliage, beautiful medium pink flowers, excellent repeat bloom, fragrant, healthy. (I found a fantastic deal on two of these from a nursery down the street that was going out of business. Boy was I lucky! These were good size when I bought them but have really put on growth since I got them a year and a half ago. They are very healthy, and put out some gorgeous medium pink flowers with a very lovely sweet fragrance all season long. Love this rose and so glad I grabbed up two at a steal!)
  • Marie Pavie (polyantha)- small shrub 3-4 ft, z 5-9, small semi-double pale pink to creamy white flowers that are very fragrant. Healthy, dark, green foliage. (Not so in my garden, I have gone to shovel prune this rose out of my garden so many times but decided to give her another year. The flowers are very fragrant which I love but she gets terrible black spot for me and just looks ratty the rest of the year. She's going this year for sure if she doesn't get her act together!)
  • Alister Stella Gray (noisette)- climber 6-12ft (though I have read it can get much larger),z 7-9, it produces long slender flexible canes, clusters of small but very double blooms that start out as very dark yolk yellow opening to creamy yellow fading to white. Very fragrant. Blooms through out the season. (I am so excited about this rose. I bought it to climb along the top of my chicken run. I have a yellow shed/coop with white trim and thought this rose would be so pretty along the run. It has been very healthy as all the noisettes in my garden are. This is again a new rose going into its second season and I can't wait for it to get to doing its thing! It has a very strong fragrance that really carries in the air, perfect for a chicken run! lol)
  • *NEW* Maggie (found)- large shrub 4-7ft or more z 6-9, medium red, repeating. this is this roses second spring in my garden and in the first year it shot up a cane 6 ft tall! Love the form and color of this rose! I am excited to see what it does this year (2012).
  • *NEW* Natchitoches Noisette (noisette)- large shrub 3-5ft, z 7-9, pink blend, repeating. This rose is still sitting in its pot waiting for its new home so I don't have too much to say about this rose yet.
  • *NEW* Baronne Henrietta Snoy (tea)- large shrub 4-6ft, z 7-9, pink blend, repeating. This rose is also still sitting in its pot from last spring awaiting a new home.
  • *NEW* Spice (found)- large shrub, 4-6ft, z7-9, white, repeating. Ya, this one is still waiting for a home too.
So those are the roses I grow as of now though I have 6 more coming in the mail for spring planting (thanks to my birthday and mother in law!). Once you know the right rose to grow, you can bet you will be sure to have beautiful roses year round. As with any other plant, they will perform their best with regular watering (roses do like a lot of water), well drained soil is a must, some feeding with organic methods being the best for plant and soil, and light pruning. Sure you will still have some issues to deal with but no more than you might with other flowers or shrubs you might grow. You may have some disease or bug issues and may or may not want to spray. Overall these things are easy to deal with and minimal and you will be amply rewarded with beautiful and even fragrant roses all year round!


  1. I enjoyed going through your roses. I am looking to expand my collection with some whites. Ducher is on my list. Good to see it's doing well for you.

  2. Just discovered your blog. I like the same groups of roses that you do. I garden in hot, humid Louisiana. Check out my blog at

  3. Hey, I just found your blog searching for easy roses to grow in South Carolina. I realize this blog is old and you may not recieve notifications anymore, but I thought it was cool that you also live in Summervile! I am brand new to gardening so I really appreciate this list. Thank you!