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How to Grow: Shrub Roses
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
All summer in colors such as white, pink, red, yellow, purple, and salmon
Mature Height x Spread
2 to 5 feet x 2 to 5 feet
Roses are a huge group of plants and many types of roses grow well in New England. However, some gardeners have shied away from growing varieties due to their reputation for requiring high maintenance, having lots of pests and lacking hardiness. A relatively new group of roses is on the market that aims to make rose growing much easier. The shrub roses are hardy, low maintenance varieties that grow to 6 feet tall and bloom all season. They come in single or double flowered forms in a multitude of shades of colors. This group of roses grows well next to other low growing shrubs or in a perennial flower border. Some varieties have fragrant flowers while others produce colorful hips in fall.
When, Where and How to Plant
Shrubs roses are hardy in New England, but may need protection in zone 4 areas. Purchase plants from a local garden center and plant from spring to summer on well-drained soil amended with compost. Shrub roses flower best in full sun. Space plants 2 to 5 feet apart.
Keep roses well watered and mulch to preserve soil moisture and prevent weed growth. Fertilize monthly with an organic plant food.
Regional Advice and Care
Prune shrub roses anytime to remove dead, diseased and broken branches. Prune in late winter to remove winter-injured branches and to shape the shrub. If plants are struggling or have gotten out of control, prune shrub roses severely and they will regrow from the crown. However, on grafted varieties, don’t prune below the graft union on the main stem (the area with a bulge on the stem) or you will remove the desired variety. Shrub roses have less insect and disease problems than other roses, but you still may have to control for Japanese beetles by hand picking, trapping or spraying them.
Companion Planting and Design
Plant shrub roses in a perennial flower border to add summer long color. Many of the pink and red varieties look particularly beautiful near blue colored perennials such as salvia and clematis. In a hedgerow, plant shrub roses to add beauty to a boundary line of your property. Shrubs roses can even be grown in containers. Protect the container roses in winter, bringing them into a garage or unheated basement.
‘Bonica’ produces clusters of pink-colored flowers and orange hips in fall. The ‘Meidiland Series’ features shrubs roses in pink, red or white with good disease resistance and strong growth. ‘Knockout’ roses are another series with single and double petaled roses in a range of colors. ‘John Cabot’ is a Canadian Explorer series shrub rose with great winter hardiness and fragrant, fuchsia-pink blooms. The ‘Carefree Series’ features disease resistant plants and varieties such as ‘Carefree Wonder’ (pink) and ‘Carefree Spirit’ (red), and ‘Carefree Sunshine’ (yellow).
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.