As we near the end of summer, I have to give my opinion of the Knock Out Roses that were planted here at our new house. Not new anymore, since we have been living here for almost six months. The previous owners had many, many Knock Out roses. Many.
Let me explain many. There were three in front of the garden shed. In the rear yard, under a River birch tree, three more were sprouting soon after we moved in. Then along the deck and foundation of the house, I found ten more. Me? A Rose Novice? I had to take care of sixteen roses bushes? Oh my!
It struck fear into my heart because I just don’t do roses. I always feel they are too hard to take care of and I won’t even talk about my battle with the thorns. I have been scratched so many times, my arms tingle when I get near a rose. I had previously had just a rambler rose many years ago, but it died out. ( Shamefully, probably from neglect.) But my Mom had roses when I was a kid, so I definitely know to watch for thorns.
I learned that these Knock Out Roses were introduced about 2000, and they quickly were best-sellers all over the country. Knock Out roses are supposed to be disease resistant, bloom continuously, and really tough…I guess a rose for a gardener like me. So I thought I would give it a go this year.
It started out fine.
I had the variety “Radrazz,” which I have read is one of the originals. So the previous owners were great growers or really loved roses. ( Some of them still had a little tag and they all look alike to me, so I am assuming they are all the same variety.)
Here were my expectations:
Original Knock Out Roses
“The original Knock Out rose, Rosa ‘Radrazz’, is a small shrub rose that grows to 3 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. Its roses are bright red in cooler months and deepen in color as the summer warms, while the foliage goes from purplish-green in the spring to burgundy in autumn. This variety is considered drought, disease and pest resistant and is completely resistant to rose black spot. The roses produce a light, slightly spicy fragrance. This rose bush flowers continuously from late spring to first frost and is “self-cleaning,” meaning that it drops its old flowers and doesn’t need to be dead-headed. ” Schumer, KW. “Kinds of Knockout Roses.” Home Guides | SF Gate, http://homeguides.sfgate.com/kinds-knockout-roses-43333.html.
However, my experience with these knock out roses is just not what the above reference tells me I should get. It seems they need to be dead-headed all season in order to keep them blooming. I didn’t dead-head them, so mine have stopped blooming except for an occasional one here and there. Checking around town where I see these roses blooming, it seems that most of them are not blooming. The bushes are just full of those “spent” ends. Should I expect different?
It appears that these Knock Out Roses are also exceptionally tasty to the Japanese Beetles who harass my garden. The leaves are lacy and thoroughly munched into skeletons of themselves. Another disappointment. But really, those beetles eat everything in their paths, don’t they?
Just on a personal side note: I am not really fond of red in my garden. I love pastel colors like pink, blue, purple and all shades between, but the reds are pretty harsh. So I was not happy to find that the “Radrazz” was a red color. I can learn to like it, but wish that it had been a different variety/color.
Thorns. Lots of thorns. Weeding is a battle with thorns. Previously trimmed branches in the mulch stick me all the time. I have problems with THORNS.
My Conclusions about Knock Out Roses
Not in love.
Resisting the urge to “Shovel Prune.”
Probably will “Shovel Prune” this fall.
Can you convince me not to?