Are drift roses perennials?

Drift® Roses

Pink Drift® rose. ©Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle.

These small-scale roses can make a big impression in your landscape.


If you keep up with plant trends, you’re probably familiar with the Knockout® roses that are touted as being tough, easy-care shrub roses. But what if you’re looking for a smaller rose to tuck into a container garden or a tiny corner of your landscape?

Well, you’re in luck. The company that launched the Knockout® series also has a series of smaller roses called Drift® roses. Like Knockout® roses, the roses in the Drift® series bloom almost continuously and offer flower colors that include apricot, peach, pink, coral, red, and pale yellow that turns to white.

Drift® roses are the result of a cross between groundcover roses and miniature roses, and the result is a compact rose that’s perfect for growing in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a groundcover. Individual plants will grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.

Drift® roses generally have good disease resistance and require less spraying than hybrid tea roses. They are best suited for planting in USDA hardiness zones 4-10.

Planting and Care

Choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight. Plant the rose in a hole that’s about twice as wide as the root ball and no deeper. Fill in the hole with soil, and apply mulch around the plant but not on top of the root ball. As with other roses, it is always best to amend the soil with plenty of organic matter.

If you’re planting your rose in a container, choose a pot with good drainage holes and use a high-quality potting mix.

No matter where you’re planting, water your rose thoroughly at the time of planting and then regularly until it’s established.

Most roses benefit from periodic applications of fertilizer during the growing season. Shop for a product containing all or some of the nutrients in a slow-release form.

Drift® roses are relatively problem free in many areas and have excellent disease resistance to rust, powdery mildew, and black spot. However, they can be susceptible to chilli thrips and Cercospora leafspot.

Deadheading isn’t required, but it will encourage reblooming and give the roses a nicer appearance.

For more information on Drift® roses, contact your county Extension office.

Pink Drift® roses in a landscape bed. ©Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle.

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Drift apricot roses

(LSU AgCenter)

Drift roses are a great new series of low-growing landscape roses that have been chosen as “Louisiana Super Plant” selections for fall 2013. Fall is a great time to plant roses. They establish wonderfully in the cooler weather and provide color for the fall garden.

In past columns, I’ve discussed how rose varieties and their popularity have undergone a tremendous change over the past decade or so. This is summed up in the new category of roses called “landscape roses.”

The category was created for modern rose cultivars that have been bred to be shapely, bushy, repeat flowering, disease resistant and relatively low maintenance. These roses are meant to be planted in our landscapes much like any other shrub, such as Indian hawthorns, azaleas or loropetalums.

The popular Knock Out rose and its variations are the best known and most widely planted rose in this category.

Belinda’s Dream rose, a past Louisiana Super Plant selection from fall 2011, was chosen for its rich pink hybrid tea-like flowers on tough plants, and it’s also in the landscape rose category.

Most of these great landscape roses are relatively large, easily reaching 5 feet or more, both tall and wide.

The Drift roses were bred to provide all of the resilience, disease resistance and frequent flowering of larger landscape roses on much lower-growing bushes, filling a special niche in the landscape rose market. They will fit beautifully into smaller spaces, provide the perfect size shrub for foundation plantings and look great in containers.

These roses are from Conard-Pyle/Star Roses, the same folks who gave us the Knock Out series.

Drift roses are a cross between full-size ground cover roses and miniature roses. From the ground cover roses they inherited toughness, disease resistance and a spreading growth habit. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and free-flowering nature. They only grow 2 to 3 feet tall, with a generous spread of 4 feet or more. The low, spreading habit, colorful flowers and long blooming season make Drift roses a lower-maintenance alternative to bedding plants in flower beds.

Drift rose series includes a wide variety of colors. All of them are designated Louisiana Super Plant selections for fall 2013: Drift Pink, Drift Coral, Drift Red, Drift Peach, Drift Apricot, Drift Sweet (pink double blooms) and the new Drift Popcorn (whitish yellow). Some of the Drift roses produce double flowers. All of them produce flowers in large clusters that can cover the bushes when they are in full bloom, spring to early winter.

In LSU AgCenter trials at the Hammond Research Station, Drift roses produce about five flower cycles through the bloom season. The spring bloom in April/May and the fall bloom in October/November, as with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance and the highest quality flowers. The late-spring to early-summer second bloom is also impressive. But flowers also are produced through the heat of summer.

The cooler weather makes it a joy to get out and plant roses. Fall is an excellent time to plant hardy shrubs, like roses, into the landscape.

Be sure to plant Drift roses in a well-prepared bed enriched with generous amounts of organic matter, such as compost. Good drainage produces best results, so avoid low, wet areas or plant in raised beds.

Space plants a minimum of three feet apart. It would be best to plant four to five feet apart if you are thinking long term. The soil pH for roses should be slightly acid, between 6.0-6.5.

As with other roses, plant Drift roses in a location receiving full sun; eight hours daily is recommended. These ground-hugging, ever-blooming shrubs are perfect as a border or bedding plant. They make a stunning low hedge and can be used to edge a bed of taller shrubs.

Drift roses should be fertilized each spring with a slow-release or controlled-release fertilizer, following label directions. Another application in late summer would help plants bloom better into the fall, especially in new beds where nutrients may be lacking. Drift roses really come into their own the second or third year after planting.

Mulch is important for these roses, as for most newly planted shrubs. In addition to looking nice and reducing weed problems, mulching prevents the surface soil from drying out so quickly. This helps the roots to establish faster and more reliably and reduces the amount of watering needed.

These are not finicky roses. Appealing to today’s busy gardener, these low-maintenance roses are highly disease resistant. They require no spraying. Blackspot disease has been minimal on plants grown in Louisiana. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilization management are the keys to success.

Louisiana Super Plant selections are promoted every spring and fall by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. They are exceptional choices for your landscape with proven track records in Louisiana’s unique climate. For more information on Louisiana Super Plants, visit Click on “Where to Find Super Plants” for retail nurseries near you.

Try drift roses in your spring lanscape | Macon Telegraph

Getty Images/iStockphoto Getty Images/iStockphoto

▪ I am having great success with drift roses! These low-growing, repeat-blooming roses add color and interest from spring through fall. Plant in full sun for best flowering. Water during dry spells and during their first season. Deer will eat these, so be prepared to use deer repellant.

▪ Continue buying annuals and perennials for the landscape. Remember to buy five, seven or 10 plants for more impact. Spacing is critical! Annuals are typically spaced about a fist-distance apart (thumb to pinky) and in staggered rows. Annuals are only in place for a season, so we plant them close for impact. Perennials are usually spaced 8-12 inches apart and in staggered rows, but read the labels for exact spacing. Because perennials continue to grow for many years, we give them more room to grow together.

▪ Now is the time to trim evergreen foundation hedges. Any shrub that is finished blooming, as well as azaleas, may now be pruned. Prune azaleas with hand pruners, not hedge trimmers.

▪ The trend in flower colors this year is green and white or bright colors. Try shrubs and plants with lime green or bright yellow leaves for an unusual accent of color.

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▪ Bright colors and pastels are still the go-to colors being used in outdoor cushions and rugs.

▪ It’s time to fertilize the lawn. But first, get a soil test. Soil tests are available from your local county extension office. They cost about $8.

▪ Now is the time to plan hardscape projects such as walls and walk ways.

▪ Add organic matter or compost to flower beds. This will help loosen the soil, providing better nutrient and water absorption. Mulch to a height of 3 inches.

Todd Goulding provides residential landscape design consultations. Contact him at or 478-345-0719.

Welcome To The Blog That Gives You The Plant Grower’s Perspective!

Best Groundcover Roses?

The story goes like this. The Drift® Rose prototype was introduced roughly 20 years ago. However, it was considered too small for commercial use and to be honest was ignored due to the ever-successful Knockout series. Although it performed excellently in trials, there wasn’t a place for this little guy in the market. Times have changed and there is now a growing demand for these great miniature groundcover roses. They were released regionally in 2007, full scale in 2008, and have been growing in popularity ever since.

Characteristics of Drift® Roses

The Drift® is a cross between full size groundcover roses and miniatures. It fortunately adopted beneficial traits from each of these: resistance from disease and winter hardiness from the groundcover, and a repeat-blooming nature from the miniatures. Drift® Roses work perfectly in small gardens where a larger shrub might not be appropriate. They are great for filling in empty spaces and will spread gently around pre-existing plants. There are currently 7 varieties in the Drift® series: Apricot Drift®, Coral Drift®, Peach Drift®, Pink Drift®, Popcorn Drift®, Red Drift®, and Sweet Drift® (all of which are being grown here at Home Nursery). I read that list and thought, “The names are self-explanatory minus ‘Popcorn’ and ‘Sweet’ Drift.” Popcorn Drift® is a mutation of the Peach Drift® that starts off yellow but then fades to a cream white bloom. Sweet Drift® has pink double flowers that cluster atop dark green, glossy foliage. Drift Roses only grow to be 1 ½’ x 2 ½’ wide, they have small blooms with a high bloom count (close to 20) with the exception of Pink Drift® (close to 10). They are hardy in zones 4-11 and are resistant-even more resistant than initial expectation-to black spot.

Specific Plant Descriptions taken from the official website of Star® Roses.

Apricot Drift®

Apricot drift exhibits a true groundcover habit and offers a fresh look to the series double apricot colored flowers begin flowering in spring and display a season-long show of color. It is just as tough and disease resistant as others in the Drift® series. Best suited for small gardens or along paths and walkways. Height 1-2’ Spread 2-3’

Coral Drift®

Bright coral-orange blooms cover this small mounding shrub from mid Spring to mid Fall. Coral Drift® has the most vibrant flowers that catch your eye from anywhere. Mix and match with similar or contrasting colors to really wow. Fully Winter hardy and disease resistant. Height 1-2’ Spread 2-3’

Peach Drift®

Peach Drift® is one of the most floriferous dwarf shrubs available. Soft peach blooms cover the plant from mid spring to the first hard freeze of late Fall. Peach Drift® pairs well with existing perennials in any landscape. The mature plant is approximately 1 ½’ by 2’ and exhibits strong disease resistance.

Pink Drift®

Pink Drift® is low-growing with distinctive mounded flowers that reach 1 ½’ in height with a 3’ spread. Deep pink flowers with a soft faded center bloom in abundance throughout the season. This disease-resistant plant is easy to care for and easy to combine with other perennials.

Popcorn Drift®

Popcorn Drift® is a mutation of the popular Peach Drift®. It represents a new color in the series. Popcorn Drift® starts out yellow and fades to a cream white, sometimes suffused with light pink. It is hardy to zone 5 and possibly 4 pending results from further testing. The overall impression is yellow and cream; reminiscent of buttery popcorn. Height 1-2’ Spread 2’

Red Drift®

Red Drift® has the most petite flowers of all the Drift® Roses. It is perfect for use in front border plantings. Red Drift® makes a beautiful statement when it drapes naturally over a rock wall or edge. Mature height is less than 1 ½’ with a wider spread. Great flower power and disease resistance.

Sweet Drift®

Clear pink double flowers seem to float in clusters atop dark green glossy foliage. Most double-flowered of all the Drift® Roses. Abundant and continuous flowering in addition to exceptional disease resistance makes this a perfect choice for use along pathways, hillsides or at the fronts of a border.

HYBRID TEA – The Classic single long stem cut rose. Hybrid Tea Roses are not only traditional and popular, they are great garden plants suitable for cutting, single plantings, or in mixed beds with other perennials, shrubs and roses. With single large, well-formed blooms on single sturdy canes, they are exceptionally easy to use in cut flower arrangements. Keep cutting to encourage more blooming and to prevent rose hips.

FLORIBUNDA – Floribunda roses present their blooms in clusters. They are found in all Hybrid Tea colors differing from Hybrid Teas only in their cluster-flowering habit. Floribundas produce profuse clusters of blooms from spring through first frost. Many Floribundas have an upright habit and are excellent for landscaping as they’re shorter than Hybrid Tea roses making them a great choice for a low hedge or border. They are often seen in public parks and similar spaces.

GRANDIFLORA – Grandiflora Roses blend the best traits of hybrid teas and floribundas. They produce the same elegantly shaped blooms as hybrid teas, but in clusters that continually repeat, like floribundas. Some clusters produce stems long enough for cutting. The plants tend to be tall (up to 7 feet), hardy, and disease-resistant.


Drift® Roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures. They retain the toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness of groundcover roses but inherit the compact, tidy size and repeat-blooming nature of miniatures. Miniature roses have small leaves and tiny flowers, mostly seen for sale at grocery stores or indoor plant areas.

The low, spreading habit of Drift® Roses is perfect for small gardens and combination planters. They complement any garden. Continuously blooming from spring to early frost, they are naturally dwarf with very attractive foliage.

Full Size Groundcover rose types are a shorter than an average rose (typically topping out at one to three feet) and wider than tall. They are free-blooming, easy-care to care for, and put on a great show in the landscape, but don’t expect huge long-stemmed blossoms. Just taking a hedge shear to the spent roses after blooming is about all the maintenance they require.


Knock Out™ is a compact, tidy shrub rose and resistant to black-spot. The foliage is a dark purplish green and turns to burgundy in the fall. The single petal blossoms are produced in masses all over the bush. Knock Out™ is drought tolerant and If left un-pruned, it can easily grow to be more than 3-4′ wide x 3-4′ tall. Periodic trims will keep them maintained at a smaller size.

Meidiland® landscape shrub roses are beautiful in the landscape as well. They offer repeat-flowering color all season without the burden of heavy maintenance and provide a wide range of growth habits that fit into formal and informal gardens alike. They are diverse in fragrance, flower forms and colors, and can help prevent erosion on steep slopes.

Whether you’re looking to create a colorful hedge or a vibrant accent or focal point, these easy-to-grow roses are the perfect choice with their great disease resistance and non-stop blooms.


Climbing roses are incredibly versatile. They are ideal for creating lots of visual interest without taking up lots of room. The flowers look just like a hybrid tea or floribunda type rose, and it is just as striking. There are a numerous ways to include them in any garden — climbing poles, pillars, arches and trellises, along fences or decks, or even covering the side of a house. They can also create an elegant canopy providing both shade and beauty.

How to Prune your Knock Out and Drift Roses

Roses can be intimidating for many gardeners. After all, roses, in their seemingly infinite variety, attract the most ardent flowering plant enthusiasts, bolstered by an enormous body of literature full of detailed advice about how to best grow and care for these ancient and treasured blooms.

The truth, though, is that roses are tough customers that can stand up to a good pruning and even tolerate mistakes more readily than many other plants. There are several types of roses to choose from, each blooming slightly differently:

  • Floribunda – bloom best on new wood
  • Grandiflora – only bloom on new wood
  • Hybrid Tea – only bloom on new wood
  • Modern Shrub Rose – repeat bloomers through the growing season
  • Climbers – can be repeat bloomers (not all)
  • Ramblers – only bloom once a year

Why bother pruning?

Because pruning is vital for plant health. Pruning helps protect against diseases and encourages continued blooming for the types of roses that will repeatedly set buds. Of course, pruning also helps shape the plant and opens up the interior of it to promote healthier, more productive growth. Improving air circulation through the center of the plant helps dry the leaves which prevents foliar diseases; good circulation also prevents fungal diseases such as black spot and mildews, which are more common on plants with congested growth in the middle.

Rose bushes that are not pruned will typically produce seeds, called rose hips, that will sap energy from the plant and prevent it from producing as many buds. If you leave the spent flowers on the rose bush at the end of the season, you should see small, berry-sized, reddish seed balls left on tips of the stems. Rose hips are actually ornamental, looking like small crabapples. Some gardeners prefer to generate rose hips — they make great jellies, sauces, syrups, soups and seasoning, and birds like them, too.

Pretty blossoms and spent blossoms – or “dead-heads” – that will form seeds – or “rose-hips”.

For the sake of this blog post, though, we’re going to stick to our strategy of pruning to encourage buds and blooms. There are different pruning strategies for different times of the year, but overall the goal is always the same: to keep the plant vigorous and open to encourage healthy growth and minimize potential problems.

Basic rose pruning involves removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches. As a good rule of thumb, deadwood should be pruned out, no matter what time of year it is. Healthy branches will be pure white or light green when cut — any discoloration is a sign of dying tissue and should be cut out.

Damaged or diseased wood is also easy to spot, and often go hand-in-hand because damaged areas tend to create entry points for diseases. In roses, damage often occurs on crossing branches, where wind causes thorns to rub against adjacent canes. Wind damage can also occur during the main growing season when bloom-heavy branches snap during stormy weather. Diseased branches are usually victims of some type of stem canker or lesions from fungal diseases such as black spot or mildews, and should be removed promptly to prevent the pathogen from spreading.

There are four main types of pruning:

Spring Structural Pruning – Ideally done to shape the plant once the threat of frost is past, spring pruning removes deadwood and any damaged or crossing wood that wasn’t managed in the fall or that died back over the winter. In New England, we like to say prune when the forsythia are in full bloom, but watch the weather anyway, just in case there’s a cold snap forecast. Better a late pruning than too early and suffer unnecessary dieback.

Summer Pruning – cut lower than at the first leaflet to manage growth and shape. This is especially useful for aggressive growers like climbers and some shrub roses. Both deadheading and shaping can be done from June through September.

Deadheading – Good for all roses – single bloomers and multi-bloom plants. For single bloomers, if you would like, you can leave the finished blossoms to encourage the rose hips for interesting fall color and texture. When deadheading, make the cut at the 1st set of leaves that have five leaflets on the stem. Normally this is the second or third set down the stem.

Shoot pruning – coming from above the graft is a good thing – cut it down to fit in with the rest of the rose shape. If the shoot is coming from below the graft or bud-union, then you want to fully remove this growth because it’s most likely coming from the rootstock which is not the hybrid you purchased.

The Boxing Garden – Knock Out Roses squares off with Black Eyed Susans as Phlox “Robert Poore” spectates from behind.

Here are some basic tips for good, general pruning:

  • Make your pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a bud of an outward-facing leaflet. By pruning at a leaf with 5 leaflets, the buds will grow branches that will produce more flowers. Pruning above that, where there are only 3 leaflets on the stem, will produce non-flowering stems, or “blind wood.”
  • Choose an eye on the outside of the cane and slope the cut down and away on the opposite side. This allows excess natural sap to rise and seal the cut without interfering with the developing eye. Pruning to an outward-facing bud also promotes outward growth, opens up the plant to air circulation, creates more pleasing shapes, resists disease, and prevents the canes from becoming a tangle. Cuts closer to the eye than 1/4 inch may damage it. Cuts higher than that will leave a visible stubble — a haven for both pests and disease.
  • If the rose bush has foliage present, the location for your cut is easy to spot. Where there is no foliage to guide you, find the dormant eye by locating where the foliage was once connected. The eye is normally visible as a slight swelling above the surface of the cane.
  • Use this same pruning technique when cutting stems for display and when removing spent blooms. In general, look at the overall shape and health of the plant, but begin pruning from the base of the plant. Remove any weak or twig-like branches thinner than a pencil.
  • Take care of your tools Buy the best pruning tools you can find. Bypass pruning shears are best because they cut cleanly using a cutting blade against a non-cutting edge. For larger plants, you’ll also need bypass loppers and even a small saw for large rose bushes. Good puncture-proof gloves and a bucket will keep your hands safe and your trimmings organized.


It’s time to tend those roses! Roses are tough customers that can stand up to a good pruning and even tolerate a few mistakes more readily than many other plants.

VIA @GardenContinuum

Remember to sharpen your pruning tools periodically — either do it yourself or have an experienced or professional sharpener do it for you. Also, wipe your tools after each use with a soft, lightly oiled rag to prevent rust. Store tools in a dry area.

Armed with the knowledge you just picked up here, you’re now ready to confidently take on the task of nurturing roses in your garden. It’s easier and less risky than you might have thought. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. So go ahead, pick up a pair of shears and give it a try. It’s okay to make mistakes – your rose bushes will forgive you. Remember, it’s better to have a healthy, blooming plant that may experience a rough cut or two than one that, without any pruning, will grow increasingly weak and unattractive.

Drift roses offer smaller plants, great blooms

News Release Distributed 05/08/15

By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – Roses are completing their initial spring bloom across Louisiana, and one group of roses is getting a good deal of attention.

Drift series roses were created in response to increased consumer demand for smaller, everblooming plants. These plants fit a special niche in the shrub rose market. While Drift roses are not “everblooming,” they sure do produce an abundance of flowers during their blooming cycles from early April through November. They’re from Conard-Pyle/Star Roses, the same folks that gave us the Knock Out roses.

Drift roses are a cross between full-size ground cover roses and miniatures. From the former they kept toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature. The low, spreading habit of Drift roses makes them perfect for small gardens and combination planters.

Varieties of Drift roses include Red Drift, Pink Drift, Sweet Drift (double pink), Apricot Drift, Coral Drift, Peach Drift and Popcorn (whitish yellow). These seven varieties bloom from spring to early frost. Ranging from scarlet red to bright soft peach, they provide a complete range of color solutions for landscape use or in containers.

We find that Drift roses have about five flower cycles yearly. The spring bloom in April and the fall bloom in October, as with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance. The late-spring-to-early-summer second bloom is also impressive.

Plant Drift roses in a well-prepared landscape bed. Fall is a great time to plant. Space individual plants a minimum of 3 feet apart. It would be best to plant them 4-5 feet apart if you’re thinking long term. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0-6.5.

Drift roses need a location that gets full sun – eight hours daily is recommended. These ground-hugging, ever-blooming shrubs are perfect as a border or bedding plant.

Drift roses should be fertilized in spring with a good dose of slow-release or timed fertilizer, which releases nutrients to the plant when it needs it most, and you’re set for the season. Another application in late summer would help plants bloom better into fall, especially in new landscape beds where nutrients may be lacking.

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

Make no mistake, these are not finicky miniature roses. They’re true, low-spreading, dwarf shrub roses that grow only 2-3 feet tall by 2-3 feet wide and are covered with blooms that open to 1 1/2 inches. Drift roses are perfect in small gardens, splashing your landscapes with visual delight.

Appealing to today’s busy gardener, these low-maintenance roses are highly disease-resistant. They require no spraying. Blackspot disease has been very minimal on plants grown in Louisiana. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilizer management are the keys to success.

Try planting some of the Drift series roses in your landscape. They have been named Louisiana Super Plants by the LSU AgCenter. Everyone who has planted them seems to be impressed with their Louisiana landscape performance.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren

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