Roses Carefree Spirit

Plant Roses in Honor of National Rose Month

Celebrate National Rose Month (June) by adding a rose or two to your garden or containers this month. Now it is easier than ever to enjoy their beauty and fragrance thanks to lower maintenance and disease resistant varieties. 


Many gardeners have switched to hardier, more pest resistant shrub roses for just this reason.  The Earth-Kind roses are among the easiest and most environmentally friendly roses for all to grow.


The goal of the Earth-Kind program was to help gardeners enjoy roses while limiting the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and water.  The Texas AgriLife Extension Service started the program by conducting field trials of 100 rose cultivars for at least four years.  They evaluated the roses for outstanding performance, superior pest resistance and tolerance of a wide variety of soils from acid to alkaline and sand to clay.  To earn the Earth-Kind designation, roses also needed heat and drought tolerance once established.


The effort has expanded and now the National Earth-Kind research study includes test sites throughout the United States and several countries.


A few popular roses you may recognize carry this designation.  The Fairy is a dwarf polyantha shrub rose covered with bouquets of small pink roses throughout the summer and is hardy in zones 4 to 9.  Carefree Beauty, hardy in zones 4 to 9, has fragrant double pink roses all season long on 5 feet tall and wide plants. It’s no surprise the popular Knock Out™ rose with its raspberry red flowers and glossy green leaves, hardy in zones 5 to 9, received the Earth-Kind designation in 2004.


Evaluations continue and the list of Earth-Kind roses grows. You are sure to find one suitable to your garden design and growing conditions.


Repeat blooming, hardy and disease resistant shrub roses are another group to consider.  This group of species, hybrids and varieties tend to be hardier, tolerant of a wider range of soil conditions with greater disease resistance. Bonica and the Carefree series are two that have been gracing gardens for years.  Newer introductions are continually being introduced, expanding your planting options.


Once planted, enjoy your roses outdoors in the garden and indoors in a vase.  Proper harvesting and deadheading will keep your repeat blooming roses beautiful throughout the season.


Cut roses for arrangements in the morning just as the top of the bud is starting to open. Make the cut above an outward facing, five-leaflet leaf.  Cut flowers back to a three-leaflet leaf on young plants that may not tolerate or be large enough for more severe pruning.  Remove the lower leaves, recut the stem on an angle and place it in a vase of fresh water.


Keep your plants looking their best and encourage new blossoms by removing faded flowers.  Deadhead single-flower roses back to the first five-leaflet leaf to encourage stouter and stronger stems.  Remove only individual flowers as they fade from roses that bloom in a cluster.  Once all the flowers in the cluster are done blooming you can remove the flower stem back to the first five-leaflet leaf.  Always leave at least two, five-leaflet leaves attached to the plant.


Start looking for a few sunny spots in your landscape to fill with easy care roses. They are sure to boost your landscape’s beauty and your enjoyment for years to come.


Photo courtesy of


Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her web site is

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