While European gardeners planted roses in beds with other plants and expected them to thrive without special attention, serious American rose gardeners focused on producing a few perfect flowers each season so they could win competitions. Fragrances, hardiness, and resistance to diseases such as black spot—a common fungal infection of roses—were cast aside for bigger, better-formed blooms.
From disfavor to rose revolution
By the 1990s, American gardeners were no longer willing to take on these divas! For many of us, gardens were smaller and schedules busier. We had discovered organic gardening and pollinators and did not want to use toxic sprays.
Then in the 1990s, David Austin roses reached the U.S. market, reintroducing easier-care garden roses with fragrance. In 2000, Knock Out® roses took the industry by storm. Their even easier care, long bloom season, and black-spot resistance appealed to yet more gardeners. Other rose hybridizers saw the huge market for disease-resistant roses, and began to create their own. Developing a new rose takes about ten years and a bit of luck. We are just now beginning to reap the benefits of the hybridizers’ efforts.
Newer hybrids meet no-spray standard
American rose distributors have begun importing disease-resistant roses from Europe where there have been no-spray rose trials for years—many pesticides are banned in Europe. No-spray trials are now happening in the United States. ‘Sunshine Daydream’, a yellow grandiflora, was the first rose to win the All-America Rose Selection rose of the year under no-spray conditions. ‘Francis Meilland’, ‘Beverly’, and ‘Savannah’—all fragrant hybrid teas—have won awards in the Biltmore (no-spray) International Rose Trials here in Asheville.
To learn more about roses, contact your local rose society. The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society serves Western North Carolina. Visit their website at www.ashevillerosesociety.org or contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ “Gardening in the Mountains” lecture series will present a talk on rose care and disease resistant roses at the County Extension office, 49 Mt. Carmel Rd., on Thursday, July 21, 11:30 to 1. Call 828-255-5522 to reserve a seat.
Article written by Judy Deutsch, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.