It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina, that I realized how easy it was to grow roses in my native California. Sure, we had diseases and bugs but, where I lived, there were no deer, Japanese beetles, and the dreaded black spot was not as serious a disease.
Christina Haney, my fellow nursery professional, and soil sister, on the other hand, is familiar with the challenges of growing roses in our climate and region. Neither of us is big into dragging out heavy-hitting chemicals or tools in the garden and being the stewards of many plants, we don’t want too many prima donnas needing something every five minutes.
With all of this in mind, here is our definitely-not-exhaustive list of high-performance roses. These were selected because they are very disease resistant and floriferous and because they grow vigorously. Christina watches these varieties like a hawk to see which makes the grade in the performance department.
Also, and this is often overlooked, most of these roses age very well, keeping their good looks until the petals fall off. That’s an important feature in our Southern heat in which flowers can quickly mature and fade from loveliness.
The designation AARS Winner in the description means All America Rose Selection and tells you that the rose has been trialed for two years in gardens around the country and has been proven to have exceptional performance and vigor. The photos here in North Carolina show you what these roses look like grown in our area, not in Oregon or some other far-off place. There are differences.
Dream Come True (Grandiflora) – Plentiful long-stemmed flowers featuring Chablis-gold centers rimmed in ruby pink and showing great form from start to finish. A tall, upright, and bushy habit with a mild tea fragrance. AARS Winner.
Elle (Hybrid Tea) – Like two roses in one: Cherry pink to apricot with gold at the petal base in the cool of spring and lovely baby pink in summer. A bushy, compact rose with a strong, spicy fragrance. AARS Winner.
Heart o’ Gold (Grandiflora) – Peachy centers with cherry-pink outer petals and a tall, upright habit. This rose has a strong fruity fragrance of sweet peach and old rose.
Strike it Rich (Grandiflora) – Apricot buds tipped in pink swirl open to abundant deep golden, peachy yellow blooms. Tall and extra vigorous and a strong fragrance of fruit and spice. AARS Winner.
Tahitian Sunset (Hybrid Tea) – A voluptuous, creamy apricot-colored rose with light blushes of pink, and with a strong fruity scent. Christina and I both adore this one. Bountiful and large blooms on upright, bushy plants.
Easy Does It (Floribunda) – Delectable sunset shades of apricot, rose, mango, and peach with scalloped or ruffled petals adding extra thrills. Its excellent disease resistance is worth noting. Rounded, bushy habit. “One of those where you cut one stem and have a bouquet!” says Christina. AARS Winner.
Easy Going (Floribunda) – Abundant golden peachy yellow flower clusters are loosely ruffled, almost peony-like. Rounded habit, and moderate fruity fragrance.
Hot Cocoa (Floribunda) – Offers intriguing blooms in a dark coral to fiery orange with blushes of smoky purple plus excellent disease resistance. It’s one of the roses breeders use when they want to breed for disease resistance, which tells you something. AARS Winner.
Julia Child (Floribunda) – Selected by Julia Child herself who loved the butter-gold color of the copious flowers and their sweet licorice-like scent. Handsome with a rounded habit. AARS Winner.
Perfect Moment (Hybrid Tea) – Generously produced, high-centered blooms with a broad red (in spring) or dark ruby pink (in summer) edge and deep gold centers. Upright, compact, medium-sized plant. AARS Winner.
Mardi Gras (Floribunda) – Heaps of flowers bloom in a dynamic and festive array of yellow, orange, and pink. Bonus: Mardi Gras is quick to re-bloom. Tall, bushy, upright habit. AARS Winner.
Zephirine Drouhin (Climbing) – The only climbing rose to make the list, this beauty boasts deep candy-pink blooms and a sweetly delicious raspberry/rose fragrance. She’s tolerant of part-shade, too.
For those wondering, here’s a breakdown of the rose classifications listed.
• Hybrid Tea: Strong stems good for cutting with classically shaped blooms borne singly on the stems.
• Floribunda: Stiff shrubs, smaller, and bushier than most hybrid teas. Flowers are often smaller than hybrid teas but are produced in large sprays, giving a better floral effect in the garden.
• Grandiflora: Often seem like a cross between hybrid teas and floribundas. Strong stems, good for cutting, with flowers presented in clusters.
Growing Tips for Roses
– Roses like to be fertilized at least once a year or more. They respond happily to fish and kelp emulsions like Neptune’s Harvest and a top-dressing of compost.
– Interfere the life cycle of Japanese beetles in your garden by killing the grubs in your lawn with milky spore treatment and beneficial nematodes (you may have to find those online).
– Plant roses where they would receive sun for at least six hours or more per day.
– Make sure the soil in the planting bed is loamy with good drainage and plenty of organic matter like compost and/or aged manure mixed in. In our clay soil, this often means planting roses in a berm or raised bed.
– Don’t bury the graft union. That is the knotted, burled area beneath the canes and should be kept above ground.
Tina Mast is communications director for Homewood Nursery & Garden Center, which grows most of the roses it sells. She can be reached at [email protected] or 919-847-0117.