Earth Kind Roses

By Janet Deal

 

America loves the rose.   For many gardeners, there are fears of high demand plants and failure surrounding rose gardening.    There is a long term research project out of Texas A&M that is giving hope to “would be” rose gardeners and also to our environment.    This project has identified roses that require little to no care to thrive.    There are numerous resources to help educate us on earth friendly roses.    Some of the links are as follows.

·         Earthkind.tamu.edu(type this in with no www)

·         Earthkindroses.tamu.edu(type this in with no www) – There is a step by step power point presentation on this website prepared by the Texas A&M researchers.

·         www.walterreeves.com ( search on earth kind roses and find a great article)

 

What is Earth Kind?    - Earth Kind is based on research-proven techniques to provide plants for our landscape and most important preserve and protect our environment.   The objective of Earth Kind “is to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a new horticultural system based on real world effectiveness and environmental responsibility.”

 

Earth Kind is a trademark.   It is a designation given to select roses by the Texas A&M University Agriculture Program.  These are roses that have been through statewide testing and evaluation by a team of horticultural experts.   Based on that testing and evaluation the roses demonstrated high levels of landscape performance and disease and insect tolerance.

 

While these roses were tested in the tough Texas landscapes, they have potential for our gardens.   The roses do well in almost any soil type from well-drained acid sands to highly alkaline clays.  Earth Kind roses are not immune to pest but are highly pest tolerant.

 

From earthkind.tamu.edu website

“Growing Tips for Earth Kind Roses:
For these roses to be as carefree as promised, it is crucial that they receive the following basic care:

Planting Site:
Be planted in locations where they receive direct sunlight for eight hours or more each day.

Have good air movement over their leaves (i.e. do not plant in enclosed areas like courtyards or small backyards which are ringed by 8' fences).

No overhead irrigation during the evening hours or at night.

Bed Preparation:
Roses really respond to well-drained soils. Thus, here are the bed preparation recommendations for the 2 major soil types:

Sandy and loam soils: Incorporate 3-6 inches of organic matter such as compost.

Clay soils: Incorporate 3 inches of organic matter (e.g. compost) and 3 inches of expanded shale. Plant on raised beds that are at least 4-6 inches above the surrounding soil.

Fertilization:
Roses also like high levels of fertility, especially nitrogen. Thus, they need to be fertilized in March, June and lightly in late August.

Base your selection of fertilizer analysis on the results of a soil test. For the March and June feedings, utilize fertilizers in which at least half of the nitrogen is in the slow release or slowly available form. In late August, apply fertilizers in which the nitrogen is readily available.

Maintenance:
Regardless of soil type, roses need to be protected year-round with a layer of organic mulch (e.g. cypress bark, tree leaves) 3-4 inches think. In areas of the state plagued by salty irrigation water, it is very important to drip irrigate roses. Salty water applied to the leaves can burn the foliage badly. “

 

Some of the varieties that are recommended by the Texas A&M research are the following.   You can find these recommendations as well as growing tips on the website at earthkind.tamu.edu.

 

Dwarf – Marie Daly, The Fairy

Small Shrub – Caldwell Pink, Perle d’Or

Medium Shrub – Belinda’s Dream, Carefree Beauty, Else Poulsen, Knockout, Matabilis

Climbers – Climbing Pinkie, Sea Foam

 

After the first year of planting, these earth kind roses are meant to thrive and produce without spraying, pruning (other than deadheading) and additional water.   I can vouch for that since my knockouts have bloomed despite the drought.     Douglas County Master Gardener Association has an active Rose Garden Workgroup.  If you would like to join please email jdeal@bellsouth.net or call 770 489 7551.