Best New Flowering Shrubs for 2024

Shrubs from bottom left to right: Juiced® Orange Jessamine (Image thanks to Proven Winners® ), Eau De Parfum™ Berry Rose (Image thanks to Monrovia® ), X Pyracomeles Berry Box™ (Image thanks to Proven Winners® ), and Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea (Image thanks to First Editions® Plants).

Flowering shrubs are garden mainstays for bringing structure and seasonal color to beds, front borders, and large containers. 2024 brings a wealth of new, beautiful flowering shrubs to US gardeners. All selected are colorful and most will flower for months.


Proven Winners’ Tuff Stuff Top Fun™ is a good hydrangea for containers or garden edges. (Image thanks to Proven Winners)

Bailey Nursery and First Editions Plants have outdone themselves with the charming new Big Leaf Hydrangea, Eclipse® bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9). The ruby red flowers of Eclipse glow in summer against the shrub’s large, dark purple leaves. Fully grown specimens reach 5′ tall and wide and grow in full to partial sunlight.

Two colorful new hydrangeas for more compact gardens include Monrovia’s reblooming Seaside Serenade® Kitty Hawk Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hokomapfloy’, Zones 5-9), a new 3′ x 4′ selection with starry pale pink flowers and an ability to grow beautifully under tougher conditions. It thrives in full sun to partial shade. The equally cute and resilient Tuff Stuff Top Fun Reblooming Mountain Hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata Tuff Stuff Top Fun™, Zones 4-9) is a recent Proven Winners introduction. The lacecap flowers are profuse and shrubs reach only 3′ x 3′.

Shrub Roses

Champagne Dreams is a beautiful, lightly fragrant new shrub rose from Jackson & Perkins. (Image thanks to Jackson & Perkins)
Monrovia’s Eau De Parfum™ Berry Rose (Rosa ‘Noa11356′) is a new shrub rose with all of the fragrance and old-fashioned romance of an heirloom. The disease-resistant rose reaches just 4′ x 4’ and produces loads of fully double, berry-red flowers from late spring to fall. Their fragrance is strong and outstanding, so plant yours near a patio or bench where their aroma can be enjoyed.

The delicately colored, disease-resistant Champagne Dreams Floribunda Rose (Rosa ‘JACgobesho’, 4 x 3′, USDA Hardiness Zones ) is a Jackson & Perkins exclusive shrub rose for 2024. The floribunda rose becomes laden with double, pale-apricot flowers from late spring to fall. The blooms are produced in clusters and have a light, fruity fragrance.

Other Select Shrubs

Berry Box™ (X Pyracomeles hybrid) is a compact new shrub with delicate spring flowers and bright fruits from fall to winter. (Image thanks to Proven Winners)

Looking for a truly miniature summer-blooming shrub that has the double bonus of attracting butterflies? Then try Butterfly Candy’s™ New Butterflybush Li’l Lavender™ (Buddleia davidii Li’l Lavender™, Zones 5-10). The 2′ x 3′ shrubs have large flower clusters of lavender. Plant the sun-loving shrub where soil drainage is satisfactory.

Reblooming Encore azaleas changed azalea growing forever. The shrubs truly rebloom in summer and the new Autumn Moonstruck™ Encore Azalea (RhododendronRoblezf‘, Zones 7-10) is a fine addition to the collection. Large, white, semi-double flowers bloom profusely on 4′ x 5’ shrubs with variegated foliage of ivory and green.

Butterflybush Li’l Lavender™ makes a lovely addition to sunny summer gardens. (Image thanks to Butterfly Candy™)
Proven Winners: Juiced® Orange Jessamine (Cestrum corymbosum Juiced® Orange Jessamine, Zones 7-10). Southern gardeners can enjoy the sunny golden orange blooms of the evergreen Juiced® Orange Jessamin. The sun-loving shrubs reach 5′ x 4′ and produce clusters of golden orange, fragrant flowers in the warm summer months. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers.
I had to include Proven Winners Berry Box (X Pyracomeles hybrid, Zones 7-9) because the miniature (3.5′ x 3′) fruitful shrub offers both spring flowers and bright orange-red berries in fall and winter. Berry Box™ will grow beautifully in a large container.

Shrub Planting and Care

Shrubs are a long-term investment, so make certain to know the needs of any shrub before planting. For further information, I recommend reading the invaluable article, How to Plant and Site Trees and Shrubs, by horticulturist Russell Stafford. It will provide all the details for how to choose the best location in your yard for any shrub of interest. Additionally, when planting any in-ground shrubs, I recommend amending the ground soil with Fafard® Premium Natural & Organic Compost. The natural and organic amendment is formulated for organic gardening.

The Most Fragrant Garden Roses

Many new English shrub roses have both beauty and fragrance!

New roses are being bred with intoxicating fragrance once more, bringing a winning marriage of old-fashioned fragrance and new-rose vigor. Rose fragrances vary a lot, so scents come with lots of pleasing descriptors, such as citrusy, fruity, musky, spicy, and sweet, among others. Here, I have hand-picked newer roses for both their effortless beauty and first-class fragrance, while adding a few beautiful antiques along the way.

New fragrant roses are rooted in the past. Many storied antique roses are the parents of today’s most aromatic new varieties. They are the originals grown for perfumery and flavoring. Those who garden for fragrance can’t be without one or two of these classics, which fill the garden with romance.

Historic Fragrant Roses

The old Bourbon climbing rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ has few to no thorns and an outstanding fragrance.

Bourbon roses are old French hybrids of China roses that have unmatched spicy, fruity fragrances. Most are voluptuous doubles that are still grown today (hybridization records go back a couple hundred years or more). They tolerate heat and drought once established and perform well in the South. One that is still popular is the nearly thornless climber ‘Zephirine Drouhin‘ with large, double, deep-pink blooms all summer but does require spraying to stave off fungal diseases. Its flowers have a sweet, fruity fragrance. Plant it along a pergola trellis for summerlong enjoyment. (Click here to see more Bourbons for sale.)

The highly scented Gallica roses were the first to be cultivated in Europe.

The highly fragrant Gallica roses (Rosa gallica hybrids) were the earliest European roses in cultivation. The spreading shrubs originated from central and southern Europe, and many heirloom varieties still exist. One of the oldest is the semi-double, rose-pink Apothecary’s rose or red rose of Lancaster (R. gallica ‘Officinalis’, Zones 4-11, 4 x 4 feet), which has been valued for its traditional wild-rose scent and beauty since Medieval times, possibly earlier. The 1860 Gallica heirloom ‘Reine des Violettes‘ is another heirloom worth growing that has fragrant, fully double flowers of rose-purple. Expect lots of bees to visit the flowers.

Fragrant musk roses are believed to originate from the Himalayas. (Image by Dinesh Valke)

The Asian Musk Rose (Rosa moschata, Zones 6-10, 6-12 feet) has famously fragrant roses with an intense musky scent. The large shrub rose has single-white blooms and attractive grey-green foliage. They bloom once in a season towards late spring or early summer. Bees love them!

Musk and Gallica roses were crossed to produce the powerfully fragrant Damask Rose (Rosa × damascena, Zones 5-11), which is still the predominant rose scent that you will find in perfumery, rose oil, and rose water production. Many old forms are still sold. The double, pink damask ‘La Ville de Bruxelles‘ (Zones 5-11, 5 x 4 feet) from 1849 is one to try. It only blooms once in a season, but its spectacular fruity-scented flowers are divine.

New Fragrant Roses

Pink and Apricot Fragrant Roses

Boscobel has gorgeous coral-pink flowers with a strong, complex fragrance.

Gabriel Oak English shrub rose (Zones 4-11, 4 x 4 feet) has dense, double roses of deepest rose-pink with the strongest fruity fragrance imaginable, according to David Austin Roses. Its flowers are so intensely pink that they are almost magenta.

Boscobel English shrub rose (Zones 5-11, 4 x 4 feet) is an effortless bloomer that has big, coral-pink roses that are fully double and wonderfully scented. David Austin Roses describes them as having a “myrrh fragrance” with “delicious hints of hawthorn, elderflower, pear, and almond.”

Over The Edge (Zones 5-9, 4 x 3 feet) is new in 2022! The Jackson & Perkins floribunda rose introduction has big double blooms of apricot with a dark-pink edge. Each flower has a fruity, spicy, strong scent that will waft through the garden. Its fantastic beauty and high disease resistance have put this all-around winner on my list of must-grow roses.

Red Fragrant Roses

‘Munstead Wood’ has flowers with a strong fruity scent.

The deepest red, cupped, double flowers of ‘Munstead Wood‘ (Zones 5-10, 5-6 feet) English shrub rose have a pungent, antique-rose scent with fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry, and damson plum. The 2007 introduction blooms continuously and commemorates the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll’s home in Surrey, England.

Firefighter® (Zones 5-10, 5-6 feet) is a 2009 introduction whose initial proceeds went to help victims of 9-11 through the “Remember Me” fund. It’s a real beauty of a long-stemmed, velvet red, hybrid tea rose that’s vigorous, disease-resistant, and reblooming. The highly fragrant flowers have a classic rose scent, and the stems have few thorns, which makes them a delight for cutting.

Yellow Fragrant Roses

Ch-Ching is an award-winning yellow rose with outstanding fragrance.

David Austin Roses gives ‘Charles Darwin‘ English shrub rose (Zones 5-11, 4.5 x 4 feet) the best rating for fragrance. The dense, double, yellow blooms (140 petals/bloom) are cupped. The fragrance is “strong, delicious and varying between soft floral tea and pure lemon.” The repeat bloomer is also ideal for cutting.

The citrus-scented ‘Radiant Perfume‘ (Zones 5-10, 5-4 feet) is a long-stemmed Grandiflora rose with big, double blooms of lemon yellow. It flowers continuously and is highly disease resistant. The Jackson & Perkins introduction looks so good, I am hooked and plan to grow one this season!

Ch-Ching!™ (Zones 5-10, 6 x 5 feet) is an everblooming shrub rose with spectacular large, double, golden-yellow flowers that have a strong, sweet rose scent. The 2007 AARS winner is a must-have in the fragrant rose garden.

White Fragrant Roses

Pope John Paul II Hybrid Tea Rose is award-winning and has an exceptional citrus fragrance. (Image by T.Kiya)

The old rugosa rose, ‘Blanc Double de Coubert‘ (Zones 4-9, 4 x 7 feet), is an 1892 heirloom with clear white, semi-double, fragrant roses that are produced all summer long. Later in the season, it bears huge red hips that look pretty and attract birds.

The hybrid tea rose Pope John Paul II (Zones 5-9, 4 x 5 feet) has large, fully double roses of ivory that smell strongly of fresh citrus. The award winner gets top marks for floral form, disease resistance, and performance. It is an excellent variety for cutting.

Planting New Roses

Plant roses in the spring. Full sun is required for most of them to grow and bloom to their fullest. They prefer fertile soil with a slightly acid pH of 6.5 and good drainage. If your garden has poor drainage and fertility, then it’s a good idea to amend it by evenly working Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost or Topsoil into the existing soil before planting. Because good drainage is required, some gardeners choose to build soils up and berm them to facilitate better drainage when planting roses. After planting, be sure to keep your plants lightly moist and fertilized as needed. One of the best all-natural fertilizers for newly-planted roses is alfalfa meal (3-1-2).

For an excellent overview of how to plant and site shrubs, click here. To learn how to grow roses with no fuss, click here.

Growing Hybrid Tea Roses for Cutting

Long-stemmed roses grown for their big, lush blooms are hybrid tea roses. They are noted for their open, upright habits, and long-stemmed roses, which are ideal for cutting. Earlier in the 20th Century, these were the most popular roses for gardens, but times have changed. Now, they are underplanted, relative to popular shrub, grandiflora, and floribunda roses, which are denser and flower-covered. Hybrid tea blooms are truly for cut-flower connoisseurs.

Despite their reduced popularity, there are still many teas being bred and developed both for gardeners and the cut-flower industry. Some reliable heirlooms are also still in production. Those that are disease-resistant, lushly petaled, and fragrant get top marks from me. Exciting colors and their symbolization are also worth noting. Most are is reliably hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-11. Here are some of the better tea roses worth cutting for a vase to admire over a summer’s afternoon tea.

Top Hybrid Tea Roses for Cutting

Red Roses Symbolize Love

Mr. Lincoln is a classic red rose that has remained in production since 1954.

Plenty of heirloom roses are disease-resistant, and the 1954 introduction ‘Mr. Lincoln’ is one. Its deepest red, velvety roses are heavily petaled (25 petals/rose) and have a strong, sweet fragrance. The reblooming rose has an upright habit of 4-feet. Every red-rose lover should grow one.

The large cherry-red flowers of Veteran’s Honor® Hybrid Tea Rose are can last up to two weeks in the vase and bear flowers through summer. The lightly fragrant blooms have a fruity scent, and many petals (25-30 per rose). The upright shrubs show good disease resistance and reach 5 feet tall when mature.

Pink Roses Symbolize Grace and Joy

The Jackson & Perkins introduction Perfume Delight™ is one the best pink cutting roses.

The delicate blush pink and white ‘Pristine‘ roses are intensely fragrant and look striking against the dark, disease-resistant foliage of the 4-foot shrubs. The flowers of this 1978 introduction have many petals (40) and rebloom continuously until fall.

The AARS (All-America Rose Selection) award-winning Perfume Delight™ is a rich pink rose that was first introduced in 1974 and noted for its intoxicating damask-rose scent and numerous repeat blooms. The large, roses (32 petals) are produced on 3-foot plants that are remarkably long-stemmed. It is also notably disease resistant.

Yellow Roses Symbolize Friendship and Care

‘Henry Fonda’ is a very deep, golden yellow rose with a clean, sweet fragrance.

The highly disease-resistant ‘Henry Fonda‘ bears many blooms of clear yellow through summer. Its long-stemmed roses are borne from 4 to 5-foot plants. The lightly scented, long-stemmed flowers have 20-25 petals. If you grow one yellow hybrid tea, choose this one!

Orange Roses Symbolize Passion

Just Joey is one of the prettiest pale-orange to apricot roses.

The fragrant, pale-orange blooms (30 petals) of Just Joey™ bloom continuously until fall. It is also quite disease-resistant and compact–reaching just 3-feet at maturity. Expect lots of flowers for cutting from this beautiful 1973 introduction.

Tahitian Sunset is noted for its intense, spicy, heavily scented flowers that are the color for a glorious tropical sunset. The long-stemmed flowers are borne on 5-foot plants that are highly blackspot resistant. This perfectly formed rose won top honors from the AARS, so you know that you can’t go wrong with this one.

White Roses Symbolize Purity

Clouds of Glory is a white bloomer with the palest pink tint.

The near-white Clouds of Glory has heavily petaled (30-35) flowers with the slightest blush of pink in the center. The long-stemmed roses are heavily scented and the 4-foot plants are quite disease-resistant.

Home And Family™ produces perfectly formed roses (30-40 petals) of pure ivory. They are lightly scented and produced on disease-resistant plants with very dark green foliage. The stems are nearly thornless, which makes it a good rose for homes with small children.

How to Grow Hybrid Tea Roses

Use sharp shears for cutting, and place roses in fresh water immediately.

Choose a good site. Roses grow best in a site with full sun and a little wind, for good airflow. Ideal rose-growing soil will have good drainage, ample organic matter, and a slightly acid to neutral soil (6.5 to 7.0), so check your pH before planting. Amend with Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss at planting time and add a fertilizer formulated for rose growing. I suggest alfalfa meal. Adding a light application of mulch around the base of the plant helps to keep weeds away.

Prune your roses yearly. First, time it right. Prune in late winter or early spring before branches have broken bud. Make forty-five-degree, angled branch cuts with clean, sharp bypass pruners. Cut stems around one-half inch above buds that face away from the center of the shrub to encourage outward branching. Keep a container of 10% bleach on hand to dip pruners into between plants, avoid the potential spread of disease. Also, be sure to invest in a good pair of rose gloves to protect your hands and lower arms.

Remove dead or unhealthy-looking branches, and then cut backcrossing branches or old, large branches that negatively impact the plant’s overall shape. Finally, remove small, densely arranged branches to promote good foliar airflow. Read more about good rose pruning techniques by clicking here.

Check for pests and diseases. It’s best to catch and stop pest and diseases early for easier management and removal. Foliar fungal diseases are the most common and easiest to spot. Powdery mildew (white spots on leaf tops), downy mildew (purple, red, or brown spots on leaves), black spot (black spots on leaf tops and bottoms), rust (orange bumps on leaf bottoms and tops), and anthracnose (red or brown spots that turn gray or white in the center) are the most common foliar diseases cause by fungi.

The best practice is to remove disease foliage immediately, in addition to removing foliage that may have fallen to the ground. Keeping plants physically clean will do wonders. There are lots of effective, environmentally friendly rose-care products to choose from. For fungal foliar fungal diseases, I recommend Green Cure® for powdery mildew and Garden Safe Brand Fungicide 3® for all other foliar fungal diseases. Both are reliable and safe.

Enjoy fresh rose arrangements all summer long!

Fill your vases with cut roses often to encourage new flowers to appear on your shrubs. Keep plants well cared for and tended, and your home can be filled with fresh flowers for the cost of the water in the vase and the time to fetch the flowers.

Climbing Roses for Garden Romance

Climbing Roses for Garden Romance Featured Image

For garden romance, nothing surpasses a climbing rose cascading over an arbor, its arching canes laden with a torrent of voluptuous blooms.

Sadly, many climbing rose varieties do not live up to this promise. They are – after all – roses, which are rightfully notorious for their susceptibility to pests and diseases. Arching canes dripping with roses aren’t nearly as romantic when they’re also dripping with fungal spores and sawfly larvae.

On the other hand, a few climbing roses (including those profiled below) literally and figuratively rise above the frailties that dog so many of their kin. Give them ample sun and fertile, moist, humus-rich soil, and they’ll give you years of virtually problem-free beauty (and romance). You’ll also want to give them a yearly pruning, removing old woody canes at the base in early spring or after flowering (for non-repeaters).

Resilient, Reliable Climbing Roses

A John Cabot rose climbing an arbor in a backyard garden.
A John Cabot rose climbing an arbor in a back yard garden.

‘John Cabot’ – 8- to 10-foot canes produce quantities of large, deep pink, double roses in late spring. Stiff and upright in growth, this wickedly thorny cultivar works best when bound to a somewhat out-of-the-way structure such as a trellis. As with many of the hardiest, most disease-resistant roses for American gardens, ‘John Cabot’ is a hybrid of the bomb-proof species Rosa kordesii.  It’s also one of several hardy, rugged, and beautiful climbers developed in Canada as part of the Explorers Series of roses. Temperatures of minus 20 F (USDA Hardiness Zone 4) are no problem for this cultivar.

‘William Baffin’ – Another outstanding Explorer Series rose with Rosa kordesii genes, this tireless bloomer produces a late-spring-to-frost succession of large, strawberry-pink, semi-double roses with prominent yellow stamens. The arching, 8- to 10-foot, glossy-leaved canes are good for training to a structure, but ‘William Baffin’ also works well as a large freestanding shrub. This exceptionally hardy Explorer rose overwinters with no protection to USDA Zone 3.

Pink roses climbing on white fence embody old-fashioned garden beauty
Pink roses climbing on white fence embody old-fashioned garden beauty.

Awakening’ – The ubiquitous climbing rose ‘New Dawn’ gave rise to this superior sport. The large, fragrant, soft-pink blooms are fully double, to the point of being “quartered” in old-rose style. They’re borne almost continually from late spring to frost on towering, 10- to 14-foot canes. Lush, glossy, disease-resistant foliage and USDA Zone 5 hardiness add further to its value.

Dortmund’ – The relatively flexible canes of ‘Dortmund’ are ideal for training horizontally along a fence or wall, where they make quite the show when bedecked with bright red, white-eyed, single blooms.  Flowering peaks in late spring and early summer, but regular deadheading will encourage additional rounds of bloom later in the season. Showy orange rose hips follow the flowers if they’re not removed.  Another Kordesii hybrid (but not an Explorer), ‘Dortmund’ is exceptionally hardy, to USDA Zone 4.

‘Climbing Pinkie’ – Speaking of flexible roses, this Polyantha hybrid will weave through a trellis, trail down an embankment, or do any number of other useful things that are beyond the capabilities of stiffer cultivars. It’s also virtually thornless, which means you can fearlessly move in close to enjoy its fragrant clusters of small double pink roses. Flowering peaks in late spring with little or no repeat, and hardiness is moderate (USDA Zone 6).

A 'Zephirine Drouhin' (Image thanks to Jackson & Perkins)
A ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ is beautifully trained against a home. (Image thanks to Jackson & Perkins)

‘Royal Sunset’ – Disease-resistant climbers also come in classic hybrid-tea style, with pointed buds opening to rounded, fully double, fragrant blooms. Introduced in 1960, when hybrid teas were all the rage, ‘Royal Sunset’ bears masses of apricot-pink roses in late spring on tall, 8- to 14-foot canes. Lesser flushes of bloom repeat later in the season. Like most hybrid teas, ‘Royal Sunset’ has only moderate winter-hardiness, to USDA Zone 6.

‘Zephirine Drouhin’ – If you really want to dial up the romance, plant ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, a nineteenth-century heirloom variety with intensely fragrant double pink roses from spring until frost. Nearly thornless, it makes the perfect subject for a bench-side bower or other intimate garden feature. Although not quite as hardy and pest resistant as the Kordesii hybrids, ‘Zepherine’ is still remarkably adaptable, tolerating semi-shade and wintering well into USDA Zone 5.

Yellow and red climbing roses
Yellow and red climbing roses mingle together along a stone wall.

Spring is a great time to plant the climbing rose of your dreams. Just dig an ample planting hole (3 feet wide or more), amend the backfill with Fafard® Premium Natural & Organic Compost, water every few rainless days while your rose establishes, and let the romance begin. (Click here to learn more about how to properly plant shrubs.)

Rose Rosette Disease Solutions

Rose Rosette Disease Challenges and Solutions Featured Image
Rose rosette symptoms on an old-fashioned climbing rose.

Few rose diseases are more dreaded than rose rosette disease. This disfiguring, deadly pathogen can take a perfectly lovely rose from glory to ruin in just a season or two. It’s very easy to identify, but trickier to manage. Thankfully, there are solutions for ardent rose growers.
Continue reading “Rose Rosette Disease Solutions”

Native American Roses for Wildscaping

Pasture rose
The pasture rose is one of several native roses suitable for wildscaping.

What is a Native American rose?  Is it the beach rose (Rosa rugosa) that grows vigorously on the sand dunes of northeastern America,

Wild rosehips
Wild roses have pretty fall hips (R. woodsii)

or the wreath rose (Rosa multiflora) that rampages all over the eastern half of the United States?  Could it be the Cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata), which grows freely in Georgia? The answer is none of the above.  All are prolific, tough species roses, but none are native to North America.

True native roses, which are both beautiful and useful for wild and not-so-wild landscapes, are a bit harder to find at local nurseries, but they are worth seeking out. They look great in wild landscapes, offering delicate fragrant flowers and colorful hips. Bees and wildlife love them!

Native American Roses

Over 20 rose species are native to various parts of North America, but some are rarer than others.  Most bloom only once a year and bear single, pollinator-friendly single flowers in white, pink, or rose.  When the petals fade, native roses develop nutritious scarlet hips that are a treat for birds and animals, not to mention the humans who sometimes forage for them.  Some natives are armed to the teeth with lots of sharp prickles, making them perfect for boundary or privacy hedges.  Species like Rosa blanda, which feature relatively smooth stems, can hold their own in more “civilized” situations.

The following native roses have the widest North American geographic distribution, making them good candidates for wild gardens.

Rosa Carolina
Rosa carolina

Pasture or Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina): Sometimes called the “pasture rose”, fragrant Rosa carolina roams much farther than the boundaries of its namesake state, surviving in dry open meadows and along forest edges.  It is native to the eastern half of North America and succeeds especially well in the southeastern United States.  The prickly plants grow 3-feet tall and wide with pink flowers that bloom from May to June, depending on the location.  As with many species roses, petal color fades to near-white as the blooms age.  The crisp green foliage turns beautiful shades of orange-red in the fall. Though quite shade tolerant, this disease-susceptible rose flowers and performs best in full sun.

Rosa virginiana
Rosa virginiana

Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana): Rosa virginiana is a taller shrub rose (5- to 7-feet tall and 3-feet wide) that is less geographically widespread than Rosa carolina. It sports single, fragrant blooms that may be pink, yellow, or rose-purple and flower from June to August.  It requires full to partial sun and is tolerant to a wide range of soil types, from moist soils to dry. Leaves turn fire orange-red in fall alongside deep red hips.

Rosa blanda
Rosa blanda (by Cillas)

Prairie Rose (Rosa blanda): This sweet thornless rose bears several evocative nicknames, including “prairie rose”, “Hudson’s Bay rose” or “Labrador rose”, for its favored locales.  Cold-hardy and tough, it is native across northeastern North America where it survives in open, dry, sunny prairies and open woods.  Its nearly thornless stems and mounded habit make it a good candidate for use in “wild” planting schemes.  Flower color varies from dark pink to white and blooming may occur from June to August.  It only reaches 4-feet tall and wide, but it tends to spread, so it needs elbow room.  Native plant lovers can rejoice in the fact that the relatively smooth stems make necessary pruning easier.

Rosa woodsii
Rosa woodsii (Image by Doug Waylett)

Wood’s Rose (Rosa woodsii): This is one of the better natives for colorful flowers and hips. Pink-flowered Wood’s rose is a westerner by inclination, found in growing wild in the western half of the United States and much of Canada.  It also goes by the name “mountain rose” because it succeeds in challenging high-altitude conditions.  Small, medium-pink flowers appear annually from May to July on upright shrubs adorned with blue-green foliage and a bumper crop of prickles.  Growing up to 5-feet tall, Wood’s rose is extremely cold tolerant.  In addition to the flowers, the shrubs produce loads of bright, teardrop-shaped hips and have fiery fall leaf color.

Rosa palustris
Rosa palustris

Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris): If your wild garden is damp, Rosa palustris may be right for you.  Native to the eastern half of North America, swamp rose is a large shrub (8-12-feet tall) that likes to be sited at the water’s edge, where it can commune with moisture-loving sedges, iris, and other, similarly inclined plants.  It will tolerate some shade but it blooms and performs best in full sun. The late spring blooms are lightly scented and may be deep rose pink or pale pink.  The prickles are hooked, which makes pruning a challenge.

Rosa setigera
Rosa setigera (Image by Cillas)

Climbing Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera): This spring-blooming climbing rose offers blooms that range from deep magenta to white. Sometimes known as the “bramble-leafed”, it sends out long, flexible shoots that enable it to scramble up to 15 feet, making it useful as a substitute for non-native climbing roses.  If trained on an arch or trellis and provided full sun and good draining soil, climbing prairie rose can be a show-stopper.  The fragrant pink blooms appear in clusters that develop into showy red hips in fall. Wise gardeners remove the root suckers that inevitable sprout at the base, enabling the plant to shoot skyward without producing a thicket underneath.

Landscaping with Wild Roses

Remember that wild landscapes and gardens can be “wild” without looking completely unruly. They are created using native species and emphasize biodiversity, habitat creation, sustainability, and beauty. Plant placement can be naturalistic while also be civilized and pleasing to the eye.
Fafard Premium Topsoil packTo use native roses most effectively, provide enough space.  Many, but not all varieties grow tall and relatively wide, with a tendency to form dense thickets if left to their own devices.  They look great planted alongside bold native Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa), breezy native bunch grasses like Shenandoah switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’), and native purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

Species roses have gotten by on their own for millennia, but they will respond with more flowers and hips if given a good start with a quality soil amendment like Fafard® Premium Topsoil, alfalfa meal natural fertilizer, and regular of water. All bloom and perform better if given open air and full sun. Prune seasonally to keep plants tidy and to promote good airflow, which will dissuade fungal diseases.
Native roses are not available in big-box stores or even most garden centers.  The best way to locate specific species is to seek out mail order nurseries that specialize in species roses. High Country Roses is one such source.

Rosa rugosa by the lake
Rosa rugosa is a common garden rose found on North American beaches, but they are not native! (Image by Jessie Keith)

3 Steps to Growing Great Roses (With No Fuss)

Strike it Rich®
Strike it Rich® is a glorious grandiflora with exceptional disease resistance. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

Got rose problems? Over 20 common pests and diseases plague roses, threatening the beauty of many a rose-filled yard and garden. But, rose growers can take heart. You can have the beauty of roses without the burden of doing constant battle with pests and diseases.  It all comes down to choosing resistant varieties and giving them the right care. Here are the three key steps to growing great roses without the fuss.

1) Pick a winner.

This is the most important step! Old roses are often the most fragrant and beautiful, but they are more often maintenance nightmares. Classic Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora (and other) rose varieties were bred for their voluptuous, iconic flowers, with little consideration for the plants’ overall vigor and disease resistance.  Consequently, they’re susceptible to a slew of diseases including blackspot, powdery mildew, and stem cankers.  They’re also easy marks for rose chafers, Japanese beetles, rose slugs, and a host of other insects that prey on roses.

'Carefree Beauty'
‘Carefree Beauty’ is a wonderful shrub rose that will resist many common rose diseases. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

In recent years, breeders have developed and introduced new hybrids that resist diseases and pests.   Most familiar of these are a number of “landscape” roses (such as the Knockout series) noted for their tough shrubby growth and abundant, relatively small, typically scentless flowers.  Rose fanciers who are looking for something with taller stems and larger, more fragrant blooms will also find plenty of low-maintenance roses to choose from, however – including several Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora cultivars that rival anything in their class.  Notable sources – and cultivars – include:

The German firm Kordes:  Their Grandiflora rose ‘Eliza’ produces a succession of lightly fragrant, double pink blooms on tall stems.  The repeat-blooming climber ‘Moonlight’ carries nicely scented peachy-yellow flowers.  ‘Yankee Doodle’ is a tall, vigorously growing Hybrid Tea with intensely fragrant, double, apricot-pink roses.

Rosa PINK KNOCK OUT® is a classic, disease-free Knock Out rose planted for its strong disease resistance. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

The Explorers Hybrids from Canada:  This collection of rock-hardy roses includes the Rosa rugosa hybrid ‘Jens Munk’, which bears 2.5-inch, double, medium-pink flowers on shrubby plants.  It also includes several outstanding, repeat-blooming climbers.  ‘William Baffin’ produces several flushes of dark pink flowers beginning in late June, and ‘John Cabot’ covers itself with double, fuchsia-red flowers from early summer to fall.  Both can grow to 10 feet or more.

The Iowa breeder Griffith Buck:  Among his many outstanding introductions are the pink-flowered Hybrid Tea ‘Earth Song’, and the shrub rose ‘Carefree Beauty’, with large pink flowers.
Weeks Roses: Many Weeks introductions are graced with fine fragrance, good looks, and remarkable disease resistance. The introduction Strike it Rich®, bred by Tom Carruth, is a testament to their rose-breeding prowess.

Rosa rugosa 'Hansa'
Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’ is a tough rugosa rose that grows well in coastal gardens. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

Anything of Rosa rugosa parentage: These rough and tough roses include the bright pink ‘Hansa’, dark red ‘Linda Campbell’, bright yellow ‘Topaz Jewel’, and the intensely fragrant, white-flowered ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’.

The French rose breeder Meilland:   ‘Francis Meilland’ is a Hybrid Tea with double, silvery pink roses on tall stems.  The similarly hued double flowers of the Grandiflora ‘Mother of Pearl’ have a light, sprightly scent.  Dark red, heavy-scented, fully double flowers crown the 4- to 5-foot stems of the Hybrid Tea rose‘Traviata’.

2) Choose the right soil and the site.

Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost Blend packRoses thrive in full sun and rich, healthy, humus-rich soil.  Before you plant your rose, amend the soil with Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost. It adds rich organic matter for increased water-holding capacity and porosity. Follow up by adding fertilizer formulated for roses. This will encourage strong growth and flowering.
Ample air circulation helps too.  Plant your prize rose in a hole that’s at least twice as wide as its root ball, and amend the backfill and surrounding soil with compost and organic fertilizer.  Then apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch to keep the roots moist and cool (and keep the soil microorganisms happy!).  Plants should be well spaced to allow air flow.

3) Maintain!

Rose rosette "witches brooms"
If you see rose rosette “witches brooms” remove your roses. There is no cure for this contagious disease. (Photo by Jessie Keith)

Prune out all diseased growth in spring and throughout the growing season (dip pruners in a 10% bleach solution to reduce the chance of accidentally spreading disease from rose to rose). Be on particular lookout for the red “witches brooms” that signal the presence of rose rosette disease, a destructive disease for which there is no cure. Roses that have contracted rose rosette disease should be quickly removed from the garden.

Thin stems in spring and summer to encourage air circulation and discourage diseases.   Tolerate modest insect damage, but treat plants with the appropriate OMRI Listed® insecticide if insects reach high levels.  Rake and remove fallen vegetation, which may harbor disease-causing fungal spores.  Apply rose fertilizer and a layer of compost each spring.  Plant “companion” perennials (such as members of the parsley and daisy families) that harbor beneficial insects.  And remember to water during dry spells!

The right rose in the right place (with the right maintenance) will provide years of beauty with a minimum of grief.  It will also astonish your acquaintances who think that beautiful roses require lots of care for great looks.

Rosa 'Red Cascade'
Rosa ‘Red Cascade’ is a rare old-fashioned miniature climbing rose that is disease resistant and prolific! (Photo by Jessie Keith)