By Steve Boehme
The newest chapter in the evolution of roses from exotic, high-maintenance flowers to workaday landscape shrubs is still a well-kept secret to most gardeners.
By now many of you have planted “Knock-out” shrub roses and appreciate their easy care virtues. Now the Knock-out series has run its course and there’s a new top dog in the low-maintenance rose category. It’s called the “Home Run.”
Home Run is absolutely, positively the best true red rose with continuous blooms, glossy deep green foliage, and a tidy compact shape that doesn’t get sprawly or straggly. It “self-cleans,” meaning that dead blooms drop off by themselves and don’t need to be clipped off or deadheaded.
Home Run foliage is dark green and shiny. Its blooms are true, fire-engine red, not dark pink like the “red” Knock-out. Home Run is completely resistant to powdery mildew, and has excellent resistance to black spot. It has a higher level of tolerance to downy mildew than Knock-out.
We get lots of calls about pruning Knock-out because, left un-pruned, Knock-out roses get way too big. Home Run has a nice compact round shape between 3 and four feet tall and wide, better for fitting into foundation beds.
While we’re on the subject of unknown new roses that take care of themselves, let us put in a plug for the beautiful “Lady Elsie May.”
Another recent introduction with less name recognition than Knock-out, Lady Elsie May has the glossy foliage and tidy shape of Home Run, but her blooms are a wonderful deep coral pink. Again, Knock-out pink suffers by comparison. Dull foliage, black spots and yellow leaves are not for Lady Elsie. She gallantly soldiers her way through the rainy, humid days of spring and shrugs off summer drought, fresh as a green pepper plant on the hottest August day.
We’re all for Knock-out roses. They paved the way for a whole new generation of constant color without the headaches of old-fashioned hybrid tea roses; they’re still a delight to plant and extremely popular.
But there are new players in town, somersaulting over the extended Knock-out lineup. Lady Elsie May is the leadoff batter, Knockout loads up the bases and Home Run and is the cleanup hitter.
Between these superstars you can have a rainbow of color from now until late frost.
Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. To e-mail your landscaping questions click “Contact Us” from their website at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.