You can plant roses in late summer and fall

By Allen Owings

LSU AgCenter horticulturist

You may not think of late summer and fall as a time for rose gardening. Sometimes, however, roses will actually establish better when planted in fall than when planted in late winter through early spring.

You can find many roses to select from at garden centers. More roses are coming out each year, and low maintenance and disease resistance are characteristic of many of these new varieties.

Knock Out roses are well known by home gardeners in Louisiana. These are available in single and double flower forms and come in pink and red color ranges in addition to a yellow. Most Knock Out roses work best as a hedge planting or in groupings of five to seven plants. Typical height for most varieties in this series is 5-6 feet.

The Drift series is a new group of roses. These were created in response to increased consumer demand for smaller, ever-blooming plants. Drift roses fit a special niche in the shrub-rose market. These roses are from Conard-Pyle/Star Roses, the same folks that gave us the Knock Out series of low-maintenance, landscape roses.

Drift roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures. These ground-hugging, ever-blooming shrubs are perfect as a border or bedding plant. They grow 3- to 4-feet wide and 3- to 4-feet tall and make a stunning low hedge or border.

Colors in Drift roses are coral, peach, pink, red, sweet (clear, pink double blooms) and apricot. A new color, popcorn, with whitish yellow flowers debuts in 2013.

Be sure to plant roses in a well-prepared landscape bed. Fall is a great time to plant. Space individual plants of Drift roses a minimum of 3 feet apart — 4 to 5 feet is more ideal. Knock Out and larger-growing shrub roses should be planted with a 5- to 6-foot spacing. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0 and 6.5. Locate them where they get eight hours of sunlight daily.

Mulch is important for roses. Mulching helps buffer the cycle from wet to dry, keeps the feeder roots from drying out and helps establish the roots more quickly. And you water less.

Knock Out roses, Drift roses and some others appeal to today’s busy gardener. They require no spraying for blackspot disease in Louisiana. Care is minimum. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilizer management are the keys to success.

This fall add some new roses to your landscape. They combine wonderfully with flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and more.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station website at

Also, like us on Facebook by going to and typing Hammond Research Station in the search box. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.

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