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There’s not just “one type” of rose (Rosa spp.). With countless rose species, cultivars, colors and growth habits, it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose for your garden. Three types of roses – shrubs, tree forms and groundcovers – have distinctive appearances that bring different dimensions to your landscape design. Whether you prefer the look of a tall and stately tree rose, a thick and full shrub rose or a low-growing groundcover rose, there’s a rose for you!
Roses don’t actually grow on trees, but they do grow on certain plants that resemble small trees — called “tree form.” Like putting two puzzle pieces together, horticulturists join one type of rose onto another type in a process called grafting. The resulting plant is called a “tree rose” or “Rose Tree,” because the flowers grow at the top of an upright trunk. These eye-catching rose trees are a landscaper’s dream because of their versatility. Plant one in the center of a flower garden, where the flowers are held high above the smaller plants below. Perfect in containers, tree-form roses add a sculptural touch to a formal garden or when paired on either side of the entrance to your home.
Botanically, all roses are shrubs, but “shrub rose” is a catchall term for rose bushes that have lush, full growth. Shrub roses don’t have to be pruned to only a few flowering canes, such as hybrid tea roses, and they don’t have to be trained on a trellis like climbing roses. They look best when they are allowed to spread out and fill in their planting spot. Perhaps the most popular plants among shrub roses are the Knock Out Roses. Knock Outs have lush and vigorous growth, with an almost nonstop blooming season. Color choices include red, pink and a bright yellow — called Sunny Knock Out — and flower forms can be single or double. If you don’t like the intensive pruning that many roses require, Knock Out rose shrubs may be the ones for you. They’ll continue to bloom whether you dead-head them or not.
You may not know that there are certain types of roses that spread along the ground as they grow, producing a mass of flowers in a low-growing mat. Drift Roses offer a near-continuous bloom season, with luxurious flowers that persist on the plants from spring through fall. You can choose from a rainbow of flower colors that include red, pink, peach and a delightful buttery yellow called Popcorn Drift Rose. As the carpet of yellow flowers mature, they turn to a creamy white, which means that each plant has varying shades of yellow and white blossoms in bloom at the same time!
If you’re growing roses, you probably want to have a supply of fresh-cut, fragrant flowers for your home. Follow these “tricks of the trade” to extend the life of your flowers:
• Carry a bucket of water with you when you cut roses so you can immediately plunge the cut stems into the water.
• Cut the stems again before you arrange roses in a vase, and remove all the leaves that are below the surface of the water.
• Keep the water clean. Bacterial growth in dirty water can causes flowers to wilt and die prematurely.
• Don’t store your cut roses near a bowl of fruit, because the ethylene gas that fruit produces actually causes the flowers to age more rapidly! (For example, don’t place a vase filled with roses on the kitchen table near a bowl of apples.)
• Use a commercially packaged floral preservative that you add to the water in a vase to make the flowers last longer, or you can make your own!
Recipe: To make an effective homemade floral preservative: Add 1 pint of a non-diet, lemon-lime soda to 1 pint of water and add ½ teaspoon of bleach. Mix thoroughly, and use this solution instead of plain water to fill your vases.