June is “National Rose Month.” Perhaps you already have roses in your home garden in the form of the Knock Out Rose, the Drift Rose or the Oso Easy Rose. But Allen Owings, of the LSU AgCenter, suggests it’s time to broaden your horizons.
“We are losing so many of the historical roses that were once available everywhere because gardeners are jumping on the bandwagon of these newer low- or no-care roses,” said Owings. “I’m not suggesting that gardeners not include them in their home gardens. But we would like to see them try a variety of types, including floribundas and grandifloras. And there is really no reason to shy away from hybrid teas.”
No reason? What about blackspot, the disfiguring fungal disease that causes leaves to turn a mottled yellow and the plant to produce fewer blooms?
“There’s no question that hybrid tea roses have lost popularity because they’re susceptible to blackspot. The American Beauty (the official flower of the nation’s capital) can be found now only in specialty nurseries or through mail order because of blackspot concerns, even though it was a longtime favorite in America,” said Owings.
“But the AgCenter recently completed a research project in partnership with the American Rose Society to determine which of the hybrid teas were more blackspot-resistant than others and have come up with a list that we call of ‘Easy-Tea’ Hybrid Tea Roses.”
The five roses that beat out 25 competitors are Frederic Mistral, Tahitian Sunset, Traviata, Pink Traviata and the McCartney Rose, named for the former Beatle, Sir Paul.
The five Easy-Tea roses require a fungicide spray just four times per year, at the beginning of each season, and the same fungicide can be used all four times.
Contrast that routine with the care regimen prescribed for most hybrid teas: Spraying every 10 to 14 days and frequently changing the fungicide to avoid resistance.
Colors of the Easy-Tea blooms range from apricot to bright pink to deep red, and the blooms display anywhere from 40 to 100 petals each.
“Give these roses the right growing conditions, and they will reward you for only a small amount of effort on your part,” Owings said.
“They want full sun for eight hours a day, good soil with a pH of about 6.5, and a nice thick blanket of pine straw mulch.”
Just in case you can’t get the American Beauty rose out of your mind, Owings has a suggestion.
“Try Mister Lincoln — it placed sixth overall in our testing and has many of the attractive attributes of American Beauty.”
R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @rstephaniebruno.