roses and the Utah gardener part 3

picture credits: Ruby Voodoo Rose.
picture credits: Ruby Voodoo Rose.

Which rose to choose for drought tolerance is not necessarily a guessing game. Horticulturists in Texas have done a lot of work for us on that subject and created a list called Earth-Kind Roses. These shrubs are selected to survive drought, cold and disease with minimal intervention. My favorites on the list are pink: The Fairy (polyantha), Cecile Brunner (polyantha), New Dawn (large flowered climber).

Rosa Rugosa Alba on the coast of Normandie ,France.
Rosa Rugosa Alba on the coast of Normandie, France.

Rugosa Roses:

Rugosas are generally believed to be very tough cookies. I have one surviving by the side of the road on vey little water for 2 years now. I think I will move it in the spring to a slightly more comfortable spot. Rugosas when successful create the most amazingly large hips all season long. They are a sight to behold. Rugosas can have a simple five petal bloom or something fuller. It’s a matter of taste.

June 2nd 2015

Once blooming Old Roses such as Madame Plantier are more drought tolerant.

This leads me to an obvious point: the fuller the rose, the larger the bloom the more water it will require. Smaller blooms demand less from the plant. This is why often the first flush in the spring is by far the most productive here in Utah. The summer flush struggles and later in the fall the plant can put on a show again. If you want truly continuous blooms you will need to turn to landscape roses such as Knock-outs or Iceberg. The latter is a favorite of mine, it’s elegant but undemanding as long as it gets enough sun.

Golden Wings rose, Red Butte Garden

Golden Wings rose is well suited for a waterwise landscape.

Here is a good article about changing our perception of rose cultivation in drought conditions.

Plant Select offer two roses amongst their Intermountain West appropriate plants: Ruby Voodoo and Redleaf Rose (a rosa glauca).

Note: I will add to this page as I read more about the subject of drought tolerant roses.


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