Of all the flowering plants in the gardening universe, the esteemed Knock Out Rose is perhaps the mightiest. Bred by horticulture legend, William Radler, this hybrid masterpiece took the rose world by storm in 1997. Nearly twenty years and numerous awards later, the Knock Out is the highest selling plant in the world, eclipsing the 100 million mark and counting.
Why the fascination? Well, besides its eye-popping petals, the Knock Out has 4 cycles of blooms compared to 3 cycles of other rose varieties. But, its main appeal is that the Knock Out asks very little of its keeper. Its resistance to growing nuisances is the stuff of gardening legend. It includes…
● Pest and disease resistance
● Cold hardiness
● Self cleaning blooms
● Drought tolerant
● Prune tolerant
Fun in the Sun
The Knock Out scoffs at winter (down to growing zone 5), as well as the blaze of summer (up to growing zone 10). Your best planting area is in the full sun in a well-drained soil. Your hole should be enriched with a good compost (like mushroom or worm casting additions) to maintain vigor. While the Knock Out can handle drought, it’s wise to water one to two inches a week when rainfall is lacking in the summer. Mulching is another great option since it holds moisture in, deters pernicious weeds, and is aesthetically appealing in the landscape.
Some gardeners swear that the Knock Out can go “hungry” and still cast a blanket of blooms. While that’s possible, why wouldn’t you want to reward your plant with some seasonal treats?
At the onset of spring, feed your roses with a granular organic rose fertilizer (4-4-5 or comparable). Simply scratch the required amount into the soil, and voila, the flowering show will commence. After the end of each blooming cycle, you can then go to a foliar feed (like fish emulsion). Make sure to feed spray either in the morning or evening. Never spray in mid-day to avoid leaf damage in the hot sun.
Ah, the dreaded pruning. One wrong snip and there go the roses. With Knock Outs, those fears can be put to rest. Follow these easy steps along the way to ensure that your roses get the right kind of “haircut.”
#1 Do Nothing
That’s right. Do absolutely nothing after planting your fledgling Knock Out. In fact leave it alone for the first one or two years. You want a mature confident rose bush before you break out the pruners.
#2 Baby’s First Prune
Year three is here, and it’s time for your Knock Out’s initial cut. To ensure a disease free plant, dip your pruners in something like rubbing alcohol. Next, consider how big you want the Knock Out to be. Apply the “two foot rule” when pruning. Knock Outs can grow to over four feet. So, if you want this size, cut it down to two feet. Three feet? Cut to one.
Cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle. Cut new shoots back by a third and cut out any interior canes to ensure the best looking roses. And remember to wear your rose gloves. No hand likes a thorn.
#3 Follow the Three Ds to a T
During the summer, follow the 3D mantra: dead, diseased, and damaged wood. You want to eliminate any of these interlopers on your rose bush. It’s easy to cut them away as well as being simple to spot.
#4 To Deadhead or not to Deadhead
The Knock Outs are known for being self-cleaning, which means they can cast off blooms to prepare for the next batch. But, you will have an even prettier rose bush if you do some spent flower disposal on your own. Cut right above the five-leaflet leaf below the flower. It’s that simple.
#5 Fall Fun and Winter Preparedness
Autumn is a great time for fall colors and freedom from pruning. But, if you are a glutton for the perfectly sculpted bush, you can cut your Knock Out by a third. After pruning, add another round of granular feed to ease the shock.
Before the start of winter, add up to four inches of mulch to give it a good winter coat until spring.
That’s it. A simple yet thorough guide to make your Knock Outs, well, the knockout of the neighborhood.