Hardy disease resistant roses

When thinking about roses, most people envision hybrid teas. However, being susceptible to disease, the hybrid tea is arguably the “fussiest” of roses. Want a hardier, disease-resistant rose? Seasoned rose growers would opt for the old-fashioned and “landscape” roses.

Old-Fashioned Roses (Heirlooms)

Sometimes referred to as “heirloom” or “old garden roses,” old-fashioned roses are the predecessors of today’s roses—some even date back to the time of the Roman Empire. These are typically fragrant and offer a delicate, somewhat subtle, beauty. A diverse and hardy group, well suited for colder climates, heirlooms include albas, bourbons, centifolias, damasks, gallicas, noisettes, and rugosas, among others.

Best Old-Fashioned Rose Varieties
There’s a reason that the old garden roses are still grown today—they are extremely hardy and healthy and often very fragrant.

  • Rosa ‘Apothecary’s Rose’ (gallica, light red, fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Ballerina’ (hybrid musk, blush)
  • Rosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ (rugosa, white, highly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Duchesse de Montebello’ (gallica, soft pink, fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘The Fairy’ (polyantha, pink)
  • Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ (noisette, pearl pink, highly fragrant)

David Austin English Roses (‘Ballerina’)

Landscape Roses

“Landscape” roses have this name because of their shrub form, which makes them ideal for mass plantings that add lots of color to the landscape. These roses have a strong horizontal growth habit and roots that grow along the ground—they can be thought of as short ramblers.

Members of this group are ideal for mass plantings such as hedges, and, because they root themselves, they are a good choice for preventing erosion on steep slopes. An en masse planting of repeat bloomers also adds depth and a bit of drama to the landscape.

Best Landscape Rose Varieties
Landscape Roses Landscape or “shrub” roses are often overlooked in favor of hybrid teas, but they make excellent additions to a garden, as they tend to bloom throughout the growing season.

  • Rosa ‘Carefree Celebration’ (pink-orange, bushy habit)
  • Rosa ‘Carefree Spirit’ (red, glossy foliage, bushy habit)
  • Rosa x ‘Noamel’ (pastel pink, glossy green foliage, groundcover)
  • Rosa ‘Fire Meidiland’ (red, glossy foliage, low-growing)
  • Rosa ‘White Out’ (white, dark green foliage, bushy habit)

Flower Carpet Roses, Coral Groundcover

Disease-Resistant, Low-Maintenance

Unlike hybrid teas, the old-fashioned and landscape varieties are generally not plagued by the primary diseases affecting roses: black spot, powdery mildew, and rust. None of these is inherently fatal, but all can severely compromise the health of a plant and are certainly unsightly. Black spot is particularly difficult to control, and it is highly contagious from shrub to shrub. In fact, it can cause a rose to drop all of its foliage, resulting in denuded canes that can no longer photosynthesize.

Hybrid Tea Roses

However, if you simply can’t resist hybrid teas, the best defense against black spot and its comrades in crime is to buy disease-resistant varieties. Rose breeders have been hybridizing for this characteristic for decades, so there is a profusion of options from which to choose. However, there is a catch: Disease-resistant roses are rarely fragrant; fragrance is a characteristic passed on from a recessive gene, which is often lost during hybridization.

Best Hybrid Rose Varieties
There’s no denying the appeal of hybrid teas. Choose disease-resistant varieties even if it means sometimes sacrificing fragrance—healthy shrubs loaded with blooms are reward enough!

  • Rosa ‘Auguste Renoir’ (medium pink, highly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Electron’ (medium pink, highly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Frederic Mistral’ (soft pink, highly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Love and Peace’ (yellow and pink, slightly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Olympiad’ (red) R. ‘Sheer Bliss’ (pearl white)
  • Rosa ‘Tiffany’ (medium pink, highly fragrant)
  • Rosa ‘Voodoo’ (multicolor yellow, peach, salmon, apricot, and red)

Rose breeders are constantly trying to hybridize for both qualities—there are a few such roses on the market, but the majority of “bulletproof” hybrid teas are not going to perfume your garden. And that’s okay! There are other flowering shrubs up to the task.

Choose roses that you know will be healthy—they will add beauty to your garden with their glossy foliage and bright blooms. Leave fragrance to the lilacs.

The truth is, once you open up your mind to the idea of a garden sans hybrid teas, there are roses as far as the eye can see (and the nose can smell)!

More Rose Recommendations

  • The David Austins combine the fragrance of old roses with the disease resistance and repeat blooming of today’s modern roses. ‘The Mayflower’, ‘Winchester Cathedral’, and ‘Graham Thomas’ are exceptional varieties.
  • The Knockout family of roses and the Carefree rose series are robust in health and prolific bloomers. You really can’t go wrong with any of the knockouts; The Blushing Knockout, The Double Knockout, and The Sunny Knockout are all stunners.
  • An excellent group of landscape roses are Flower Carpet roses, also known as The Carpet Rose. Their unique double root system (they have deep roots as well as soil-surface roots) makes them able to tolerate dry conditions. A few high performers include: ‘Apple Blossom’, which produces a profusion of pastel pink blooms from late spring through fall; ‘Coral’, a salmon-colored low-grower; and ‘White’, brilliant for its snowy blooms.

Read more about Growing Hassle-Free Roses.

Disease-resistant roses make gardening life easier

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Struggling with rose diseases often converts affection to frustration for the millions of gardeners who grow the beloved shrubs.

Instead of cursing the big three – black spot, powdery mildew and rust – take the advice of Jay Pscheidt, a plant pathologist with Oregon State University Extension Service, who steers people to roses that enjoy immunity to the threats of these diseases.

“Save yourself a lot of hassle and plant disease-resistant roses this spring for trouble-free bouquets in the summer,” he said. The Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Handbook, which Pscheidt co-authored, offers a list of varieties.

Hybrid teas that smell sweet and are moderately resistant to all three diseases include dark-red Mr. Lincoln; Double Delight with its shades of reds, pinks and whites; pastel pink Tiffany; and sunset-orange Voodoo. Dark-salmon Fragrant Cloud is highly resistant to rust and moderately resistant to powdery mildew and black spot.

Tournament of Roses, a coral-colored grandiflora, and the heavy-blooming, pink-flowered floribunda Sexy Rexy very successful at fighting off the trio of diseases. Sunshine-yellow floribunda Sunsprite and Queen Elizabeth, a classic pink grandiflora, are moderately resistant to all three.

If you want a climbing rose, keep in mind that they require more pruning than shrub roses. Install a trellis or use an archway for a climbing rose, which needs space to grow vertically as well as horizontally.

Disease-resistant climbing roses include the fire engine-red Altissimo, which is resistant to rust and has medium resistance to black spot and powdery mildew. Lemon-yellow Golden Showers and Joseph’s Coat in rouge and peach hues possess moderate resistance to all three.

You may not find all of these roses at garden centers and other retail outlets. If you’ve got your heart set on one, call first to see if it’s in stock. If you choose to shop online, check out Heirloom Roses, Jackson & Perkins and Edmunds Roses.

At the nursery, roses come with bare roots or in a plastic container. For container plants, dig the planting hole twice as wide as the container. For bare-root roses, dig the hole wide enough so you can spread the roots horizontally. Spring, after the last frost date (late March/mid-April), is a great time to plant roses. Put them in a spot with well-drained soil that will receive six to eight hours of full sun. Water your newly planted roses deeply.

For more information about roses, refer to Controlling Diseases and Aphids on Your Roses. Also available is Roses: Planting and Care in Central Oregon. Although it’s geared for high-desert gardeners, the advice also applies to western Oregon.

Disease Resistant Roses

Q. Mike: I live in Europe and am having trouble with my roses. The leaves are getting black spots and then falling off some of my bushes. Any idea what the disease could be, and how I can control it without chemicals? Thanks,

    —Gene in Slovenia (” a nice little country just south of Austria”)

I don’t want to spray pesticides in my yard. What rose varieties can you recommend that won’t get black spots on their leaves?

    —Roberta in Chicago, Illinois

Hello Mike: What are the names of some good disease resistant roses? It’s ordering time, and I am ‘new’ to this region after 40 years in Bay Area of California. I’m aware of the rugosas, Knockouts, old roses etc., but am more interested in ‘modern’ hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, etc. Are any of them worth trying? Thanks,

    —Todd; now in Stratford, NJ

A. Well, thank you, Todd! It’s been a while since I had an excuse to call my old friend Dr. Tommy Cairns, noted author, former President of the American Rose Society and Immediate Past President of the World Federation of Rose Societies. (If roses grew on the moon, odds are Dr. Tommy would be a President of the LUNAR Rose Society…) He’s the rosarian I trust to name names; and to provide sage advice on keeping that dreaded black spot at bay.

That’s the disease Gene in Slovenia and Roberta in Chicago are facing—and the one that you’ll likely have the most troubles with. “In a really moist climate, you’re always going to be battling black spot,” explains the good Dr. Cairns. It first appears as—no surprise—black spots on the plants’ leaves, and is often so severe it can defoliate entire plants by the end of the season. In contrast, notes Dr. Tommy, the damage caused by most of the other common rose diseases, like powdery mildew, tends to be more cosmetic.

Before we move on to naming the best varieties for avoiding the problem, let us first quickly list the basic things you should do to prevent rose diseases in general.

  1. Always plant in open, uncrowded areas where the rose will get lots of airflow and the first morning sun.
  2. NEVER prune in the Fall.
  3. Prune off all dead, damaged and diseased canes in the Spring, just as new growth appears.
  4. Clean up and discard the old mulch underneath your roses every Spring, and replace that disease-spore ridden material with an inch of high-quality compost.
  5. NEVER use bark, wood or rubber mulch.
  6. Prune throughout the summer to keep the plants open and uncrowded.

Naturally disease-resistant varieties? In general, Dr. Cairns reminds us that the older the rose, the more likely it will be disease-resistant; that roses with waxy leaves will always be more disease-resistant than roses with papery leaves; and oddly, the lower growing the rose, the more resistant it should be.

That said, the ‘Knockout’ series of roses, mentioned by our California transplant, “has become synonymous with disease resistance”, says Dr. Cairns. Created by Bill Radler, an amateur interbreeding old roses, the Knockouts are shrub roses that reach three to four feet in height, come in a variety of colors, have the unique ability to rebloom without any deadheading, and perhaps most importantly, “are virtually immune to black spot.”

Next in line is ‘Kardinal’, a red hybrid tea that Dr. Tommy says “never gets black spot, rarely gets mildew, and lasts a very long time in the vase, which is unusual for home-grown roses. It was developed by Kordes, a German company that’s really paying attention to disease resistance.”

He also likes the brand-new ‘Moon Dance’, a white “rain proof” floribunda from Jackson & Perkins with a unique fragrance (“perfume with a hint of raspberry”); it’s a 2007 AARS winner. Another relatively new white floribunda, called ‘Fabulous’, is also very disease resistant, he notes, and it grows a little taller than Moon Dance.

Getting back to unique smells, Dr. Cairns says that the ‘Julia Child’ yellow floribunda released last year has a “very strong licorice and spice fragrance”, good disease resistance and an enormous number of petals per flower. And ‘Wild Blue Yonder’, a deep purple grandiflora, has a very strong citrus fragrance, he notes. Described as only lightly fragrant but much more disease resistant is ‘Cabana’, an orangey-yellow hybrid tea from Jackson & Perkins. And ‘Bolero’, a short, “rain proof white floribunda from France” has a strong “pure rose fragrance”, he notes.

Dr. Tommy continues his surprisingly long list of naturally healthy roses with ‘Amber Queen’, an apricot colored floribunda whose glossy foliage is “highly disease-resistant”; ‘Passionate Kisses’, a floribunda that produces big clusters of neon pink flowers; and ‘Ronald Reagan’, a nicely disease-resistant hybrid tea with flowers the color of the late President’s hair that tends to lean a bit to the right in the garden.

He adds that he really likes the ‘Easy Elegance’ series of VERY hardy (down to zone 4 without winter protection) shrub roses, especially ‘Fiesta’ (aka ‘Golden Jubilee’) which Dr. Tommy says “is like an explosion of pink and white blooms”; ‘Macy’s Pride’, whose “creamy white flowers age gracefully to develop a hint of pink”; ‘Snow Drift’, whose white flowers contain an astounding 50 petals apiece; and ‘Showtime’, a clear red climber with bright gold stamens that, says the good Dr. Cairns, “is as hardy as it gets.”

And finally, he closes with two new varieties that have earned the title of “World’s Favorite Roses” and thus entrance into the World Rose Hall of Fame: ‘Eden Rose’ (aka ‘Pierre de Ronsard’), a medium pink climber; and ‘Elina’ a pale yellow hybrid tea.

What Is A Disease Resistant Rose Bush?

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Disease resistant roses have been getting a lot of attention lately. What is a disease resistant rose and how can a disease resistant rose help you in your garden? Read on to find out.

What are Disease Resistant Roses?

This term “disease resistant” means exactly what it states — the rose bush is resistant to disease. A disease resistant rose bush is a hardy variety of rose that by its breeding can resist many attacks of disease.

This does not mean that given just the right conditions a disease resistant rose will not be attacked

by and contract some disease. But disease resistant rose bushes should perform better in your rose beds without the need to spray as often or perhaps not at all. Not spraying your rose bushes with a fungicide means that you need to keep the bushes well trimmed and thinned out to keep good air flow through and around the rose bush. The good air movement will help keep the humidity level down, thus not creating the climatic condition within the rose bush that fungi can thrive in. Keeping drooping canes up off the ground also helps stop diseases from attacking your rose bushes.

Probably one of the most popular disease resistant rose bushes on the current market is Knock Out, a shrub rose with red blooms and a very hardy rose bush in many ways.

List of Disease Resistant Roses

Here are a few disease resistant rose bushes you may want to include in your rose beds:

Disease Resistant Floribunda Roses

  • Europeana Rose
  • Honey Bouquet Rose
  • Playboy Rose
  • Scentimental Rose
  • Sexy Rexy Rose
  • Showbiz Rose

Disease Resistant Hybrid Tea Roses

  • Electron Rose
  • Just Joey Rose
  • Keepsake Rose
  • Veterans’ Honor Rose
  • Voo Doo Rose

Disease Resistant Grandiflora Roses

  • Love Rose
  • Tournament of Roses Rose
  • Gold Medal Rose

Disease Resistant Miniature Roses/Mini-Flora Roses

  • Amy Grant Rose
  • Autumn Splendor Rose
  • Butter Cream Rose
  • Coffee Bean Rose
  • Gourmet Popcorn Rose
  • Winter Magic Rose

Disease Resistant Climbing Roses

  • Altissimo Rose
  • Iceberg Rose
  • New Dawn Rose
  • Sally Holmes Rose
  • Cancan Rose
  • The Charlatan Rose

Georgia rose growers know all too well the devastation that black spot can wreak on roses. Planting roses resistant to black spot is the best way to avoid problems. The following article lists some of the most disease-resistant roses for the South.

By John Hartman, University of Kentucky Plant Pathologist

Roses are a popular landscape and garden plant in Kentucky. Black spot, caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae, is the most important foliar disease of roses in Kentucky. It is a serious problem every year under our warm, humid growing conditions. Infected leaves become spotted, turn yellow and drop from the plant. This defoliation decreases plant energy reserves and results in reduced flowering of roses. Kentucky growers wanting to maintain good health of their susceptible rose cultivars are almost obligated to use repeated applications of fungicides throughout the growing season. If rose growers could grow genetically resistant or disease tolerant roses, they would benefit from improved performance and reduced fungicide use.

Rose cultivars are evaluated for disease reactions. Plant Pathologists from around the U.S. periodically evaluate rose cultivars for their reaction to black spot disease. The following black spot-resistant rose lists were assembled from reports of evaluations done in Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Washington. Some of these test results were printed in recent issues of Biological and Cultural Tests for Control of Plant Diseases, an annual journal published by the American Phytopathological Society. Many of these cultivars are also listed in the publication Pest Resistant Ornamental Plants by Deborah C. Smith-Fiola of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service.

Disease reactions can vary from one location to another depending on disease pressure. Cultivars with resistance may still develop symptoms under high disease pressure, but they survive black spot without much damage to the plant. It is possible for rose disease resistance to break down due to the black spot fungus adapting to the plant’s resistance, so resistance can be lost. Nevertheless, the roses listed here should perform well during most Kentucky disease outbreaks and with less fungicide than most roses.

Black spot resistant hybrid tea roses:

Alec’s Red
Auguste Renoir
Bride’s Dream,
Canadian White Star
Cary Grant
Charlotte Armstrong
Chrysler Imperial
Dainty Bess
Elizabeth Taylor
First Prize
Forty Niner
Frederic Mistral
Great Scott
Helmut Schmidt*
Just Joey*
Lady Rose
Lady X
Las Vegas*
Love and Peace
Marilyn Monroe
Marijke Koopman
Miss All-American Beauty
Mister Lincoln
New Day*
Otto Miller
Peggy Rockefeller
Peter Frankenfeld*
Peter Mayle
Pink Peace
Precious Platinum*
Princess of Monaco
Proud Land
Sheer Bliss
Silver Jubilee*
Smooth Lady
Sutters Gold
The McCartney Rose
Uncle Joe

Black spot resistant floribunda and grandiflora roses:

Angel Face
Betty Prior
Bill Warriner
Brass Band
Charlotte Ann
City of London
Class Act
First Edition
First Kiss
French Lace
Gene Boerner
Gruss an Aachen
Hot Cocoa
Ivory Fashion
Nearly Wild
New Year*
Pink Parfait
Pretty Lady
Prima Donna
Queen Elizabeth
Razzle Dazzle
Red Gold*
Sexy Rexy*
Sun Flare
Tournament of Roses*

Black spot resistant shrub roses: Shrub roses are normally pretty resistant to black spot disease. There are many more black spot resistant cultivars than those listed here.

Alba Meidiland
All That Jazz
Baby Love
Belinda’s Dream
Caldwell Pink
Carefree Beauty
Carefree Delight
Carefree Sunshine
Carefree Wonder
Distant Drums
Else Poulsen
George Vancouver
Harrison’s Yellow
Katy Road Pink
Knock Out
Mrs. R. M. Fincn
Prairie Harvest
Prairie Sunrise
Sea Foam
Simon Fraser
Sir Thomas Lipton
The Fairy
Wanderin’ Wind
Winter Sunset.

Black spot resistant climbing roses:

Dublin Bay*
John Davis
New Dawn
Rambling Red
Red Climber
Royal Sunset*
William Baffin.

Black spot resistant miniature roses:

Always a Lady
Angel Darling
Apricot Twist
Baby Betsy McCall
Beauty Secret
Black Jade
Deep Velvet
Green Ice
Gourmet Popcorn
Little Artist
Loving Touch
Magic Carrousel
Minnie Pearl
Old Glory
Queen City
Rainbow’s End
Red Cascade
Red Flush
Rose Gilardi
Singles Better
Sweet Pickins
Watercolor and Work of Art.

Black spot resistant Rugosa hybrid roses: Rugosa roses are normally resistant to black spot disease. These and other cultivars should do well.

Blanc double de Coubert
F. J. Grookendorst
Frau Dagmar Hartopp
Linda Campbell
Rugosa Alba
Rugosa Magnifica
Rugosa Rubra
Rosecraie de l’Hay
The Fairy
Therese Bugnet.

*Also resistant to powdery mildew and rust diseases.

Tags For This Article: black spot, rose

Disease Resistant Roses. A Dream Come True. 

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If you are looking for Disease Resistant Roses, or maybe you are just getting started with roses, you can’t do better than choosing from those which have stood the test of time: The Award Winners.

When searching for roses which are not going to give you a lot of problems in the garden, it’s a very good idea to look for roses which have won awards because they have been thoroughly tested for everything.

For the cream of the crop you can’t beat those in the Rose Hall of Fame. All award winners must meet several requirements, and disease resistance is one of them. There are, however, not many of them there. But there are plenty of award winners elsewhere. They are, as it were, made for us.

We only have to choose the type: whether it be a Hybrid Tea, a Shrub Rose, a Floribunda, a Groundcover Rose, a Miniature or a Grandiflora or whatever, and all the hard work has been done for us. Someone else has chosen the roses with the best disease resistance and we just have to choose one to suit our taste and our situation and even our colour scheme. And, we can find all this out online from the comfort of our own homes. Brilliant.

The Peace Rose.

The ‘Peace’ Rose, left, was the first of the modern roses to be inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame, in 1976. This is a very hardy, disease resistant rose. It is also available as a climber. Find out more about this amazing rose. The Peace Rose.

I honestly thought I would be looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack when I began looking for disease resistant roses, which used to be virtually impossible to find. But I got a very pleasant surprise. Not only are there a lot, but some of them are extremely beautiful and fragrant as well. There really are enough to go round as far as having our cake and eating it too is possible in our gardens.

Disease Resistant Roses. Some Prize Winners.

The following disease resistant roses are only some of the All-America Rose Selections (AARS). These are winners. The very first AARS award winner s were ‘Grand Duchess Charlotte’ and ‘Mary Margaret McBride’. So the awards go back a long time and there certainly are plenty of them. But these special roses are disease resistant, not disease free. They may still become diseased for many reasons, but they can tolerate it better, especially with organic sprays and other organic products.

The tough award winning Wichurana Rambler ‘New Dawn’. AARS 2000.

Not only is it easy to keep, it is very fragrant. It was developed in 1930 and is repeat flowering with 3″ blooms and looks divine over an archway or a trellis against a wall. Modern climbers were based upon this very special rose which is a real winner among the disease resistant roses. New Dawn now has its own page.

For your ‘New Dawn’ rose to flourish, plant it in the sunniest spot in your garden, give it plenty of space so it has enough air circulation, and as with all roses (and plants, for that matter), always try to avoid the foliage when you water. Watering the leaves encourages fungal diseases which love humidity.

I know that this happens when it rains, but we’re talking about ‘extra’ watering of the leaves in between showers. Always water around the roots. Remember that roses love a good watering but not too often. Watering their foliage only encourages black spot and powdery mildew which thrive in moist conditions. For good disease resistance – the best chance you can give them – prevention is better than cure.

An important note about Rose Disease: If you do have a rose with a disease such as Black Spot or Powdery Mildew, always, always, take off the diseased leaves or blooms, wrap them up and put them in the bin. This step is crucial! Anything left over will continue to thrive and spread and you’ll be back where you started. In SE Queensland Black Spot is one of our worst enemies so we can’t be too careful. Fortunately for us, there is a very special Nursery which breeds roses especially for Queensland. They have others of course, but these are very special.

Brindabella Roses.

Garden Express stocks them along with a huge variety of other flowering plants. From Garden Express: “Brindabella Roses have the ability to thrive in heat and humid conditions making them well suited to the vast majority of the suburbs of major capital cities as well as right up and down the east coast of Australia. The bushy plants grow to 1 metre tall and wide and have dark green foliage. They are great as bush roses in the garden and also very suitable for pots and have a well above average black spot resistance”.

Apricot Nectar. AARS 1966.

The divine Hybrid Tea rose ‘Apricot Nectar’ is a climbing rose as well as a shrub. It is hardy and quite vigorous with a strong fruity fragrance (very nice, actually). I have lived with this rose and I loved it. It certainly has a beautiful perfume. It will not let you down with its repeat flowering and will even reach about 12 feet. Introduced in 1965 by Boerner from Jackson and Perkins. The shrub form won the AARS Award in 1966. A rose of beauty and fragrance. And free of diseases. I have lived with this rose in South East Queensland and it lives up to its name. No Black Spot or anything else. I think you could grow it just about anywhere. It certainly is a great disease resistant rose. Photo Credit: Stan Shebs.

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Sutter’s Gold’. AARS 1950.

An excellent garden rose. Very fragrant with vigorous growth and a repeat bloomer. The orange petals may be tipped with red giving it a spectacular appearance. The blooms may be up to 5″ across. A light pruning , morning sun (always best for roses), regular watering (but not too much) and about 6 hours of sun each day, is all this beauty requires of you. Also, leave plenty of air around it and give it some rose food following the directions on the packet or on the card which came with the rose when you bought it. A light pruning after the flowering season is over will ensure beautiful blooms from Summer through to the first frost. This rose is an all time winner among the disease resistant roses.

The sumptuous rose ‘Perfume Delight’. AARS 1974.

It’s secret? It boasts the ‘Peace’ rose in its lineage. A beautiful Hybrid Tea rose which is excellent for cut flowers. This is an upright shrub rose with heavy old fashioned Damask fragrance. It will grow to 4 0r 5 feet. It flowers from mid-summer right through to Autumn. When it has finished flowering it should be cut back (gently). A good rose food and frequent watering (not too much) and plenty of room around it for air to circulate is all it needs. A great disease resistant rose.

Carefree Wonder. AARS 1991.

This beautiful disease resistant rose lives up to its name and we don’t even have to miss out on all the extras. It is a shrub rose which will grow to 5 feet and its petals are creamy white on the reverse side giving it a stunning effect when in full bloom. It even attracts the hummingbirds and has a delightful fragrance. The blooms may be 4′” across and it flowers from Spring through to Autumn. As well as being a disease resistant rose, it is also drought tolerant depending on which zone you live in, but this rose ticks all the right boxes for me. Very minimal maintenance. Definitely disease resistant. It has its own page right here. The Carefree Wonder Rose.

Rio Samba. AARS 1993.

Very aptly named with very fruity cooling colours, this rose would look great on the patio beside the pool. It says: ‘Refreshing’ to me. It is a Hybrid Tea shrub rose which will grow to 4 feet in height and has a spread of about 1.5 – 2 feet. The blooms are up to 5″ across. It makes an excellent hedge or privacy screen because it is dense right down to the ground. It won’t need fill in plants at the front. It has a delightful light fragrance and dark green foliage which sets it off nicely.

As with other award winners it may live to 30 years depending on its position, the soil quality and good drainage. It needs full sun – about 6 hours per day. And of course it is repeat flowering from mid Spring right through to Autumn. Just give it a good, light prune after the flowering season is over. As long as you have the right spot and well drained good soil, the award winners should make it without any problems.

The gorgeous swirling petals of the ‘First Prize’ rose. AARS 1970.

Another Hybrid Tea with creamy white on the reverse side of each petal, giving a glimpse of cream, white and pink all at the same time across the whole bush. It can grow up to 5 feet and spread up to 2.5 feet. Long lasting as a cut flower and exhibition quality blooms up to 6″ or more across, each petal itself being very large. It will thrive even with neglect. Very fragrant and a repeat bloomer from mid Spring through to Autumn. Best in full sun. This is a deciduous (in cold climates) disease resistant rose.

The Bonica Rose.

With its pretty pink petals and prize winning disease resistance qualities, this beautiful rose in the Modern Rose Hall of Fame. And no wonder. It is simply delightful and one of the most popular, easy to grow roses in the world. It’s a Floribunda shrub rose which also comes in a climbing form. And it has its own page. (Some roses deserve that). Read all about it here. The Bonica Rose.

Glorious Floribunda Rose “Sunflare’. AARS 1983.

This rose is special. Not only is it a disease resistant rose, but it is so hardy it will tolerate heat and cold. Its bright yellow, ‘sunny’ blooms are up to 4″ across. Its foliage is dense so it is good for privacy screening and does not need fill in plants around it. It repeat flowers from late Spring through to Autumn. A gentle Spring pruning is all it needs. A shrub rose, it will grow to about 4 feet in height and has the same spread. On the whole it is a true spreading shrub and therefore it is excellent for a hedge as well. Because it is a Floribunda, it has a large amount of blooms on each stem. Unbelievable quality and quantity.

Red Knock Out Rose. AARS 2000.

This rose has a very interesting history in that it includes quite a few ancestors which are well known. Some of them you may recognize. They include ‘Carefree Beauty’, ‘Razzle Dazzle’, and ‘Playboy’. Developed by William Radler, this family of roses are all Knock Outs.This rose and its other family members are guaranteed to be disease resistant, especially to Black Spot. They are also self cleaning which means no dead-heading. As well as being disease resistant roses, they are tolerant of dry conditions and require hardly any care at all. They grow to a height of 3 – 4 feet and develop a beautiful shape as they are the same in width. They flower from late Spring through to Autumn. They have a light fragrance and the butterflies love them. Ideal for a hedge or screening plant, as well as being disease resistant.

Fourth of July. AARS 1999.

No wonder this rose is beautiful. One of its parents is the very popular climber ‘Altissimo’. The other parent is ‘Roller Coaster’. It will grow up to 14 feet, and is fragrant. (But it may be grown as a shrub in cooler climates). Its stunning red and white blooms are 4″ across with a sweet apple fragrance and it is very hardy. It flowers repeatedly from Summer through to Autumn and, of course, it requires little care. Its petals are velvety and the blooms are arranged in clusters, really showing it off against a background of dark green foliage. A wonderful gift for Independence Day. High disease resistance.

Easy Does It. AARS 2010.

This orange, mango, citrus, peach combination provides the perfect rose. Not only is it stunning but it is tough and reliable and it is a Floribunda which means you get plenty of it. The petals are lightly perfumed and tend to be arranged in layers of frills. It will grow to a height of about 4 feet and a spread of 3 feet, with great resistance to disease. It is perfect for most climates. Grows anywhere. Very little upkeep on this beauty. With 4″ showy blooms it flowers repeatedly from Spring through to Autumn. Excellent disease resistance. Requires full sun, usually about 6 hours a day. And roses just love early morning sun.

‘Whisper’. AARS 2003.

Looking like the topping on a Lemon Meringue Pie, this is another disease resistant rose. It doesn’t get Black Spot, or Rust or even Powdery Mildew. Its stunning blooms are 5″ across and it grows to a height of 4 feet and almost the same across. It flowers repeatedly in Spring and Summer and has a mild fragrance. The buds are creamy yellow opening to creamy white and then white. Its dark green foliage really sets off the white. A winner for sure. This one could be trained as a standard or tree rose.

‘Hot Cocoa’. AARS 2003.

This is a unique, special rose. A complete contrast to the ‘Whisper’ rose above. The petals are actually ruffled around the edges. I would describe the colour as deep chocolate red. As it is a Floribunda, once again you get plenty of it. It is fragrant and ticks all the boxes for a disease resistant rose. It is a shrub which grows to 4 – 5 feet in height and is almost as wide. It requires nothing more than full sun, good drainage and good soil. It will flower repeatedly and give you big blooms from early Summer right through to Autumn. Photo Credit.

‘Strike It Rich’. AARS 2007.

A Grandiflora (a cross between a Floribunda and a Hybrid Tea) rose with orange-red tones. Grows to 6 feet in height, and is very fragrant. The blooms are 5″ across and the colours change through yellow, gold and red. Its perfume is strong and spicy. Being a Grandiflora, there are many blooms on each stem, and the stems themselves are very long. Long lasting, flowering from Spring through Summer. Its canes are a rather unique feature – they are red. And of course, it is a disease resistant rose.

More Disease Resistant Roses.

The Queen Elizabeth Rose

Peace Rose

Princess de Monaco

Pierre de Ronsard

Rose Hall of Fame

The Fairy Rose

Fragrant Roses

Carefree Wonder Rose

Joseph’s Coat

Knock Out Roses

Westerland Rose

David Austin Roses

AARS Winners. A Complete List.

Home. Return from Disease Resistant Roses to Types of Roses.

I gave up growing roses years ago because I could not keep up with the need to spray for black spot and other diseases. I understand that there now are disease-resistant roses that do not need to be sprayed frequently. Are they available locally?

There are now many disease-resistant roses of all types. Most of the roses listed below are available at local full-service nurseries from now through May. These varieties and others can also be ordered online. Buy before May first for best selection.

Hybrid tea or cut-flower roses:

Barbra Streisand has lavender flowers with a deep magenta edge and a strong citrus scent.

Heirloom has deep lilac purple flowers and strong fragrance.

Mellow Yellow has large clear yellow flowers with a moderate fruit scent.

Memorial Day has lavender pink flowers with strong fragrance.

New Zealand has soft creamy pink flowers with a strong honeysuckle fragrance.

Olympiad has bright red flowers and mild fragrance.

Pinkerbelle has cream-colored flowers with pink edges and a strong spicy verbena scent.

Rosie the Riveter has large orange-gold flowers suffused with pink and light fragrance.

Sweet Mademoiselle has peachy pink to apricot flowers with strong sweet fragrance.

Sunny Sky Eleganza has large yellow flowers and mild fragrance.

Wild Blue Yonder has deep reddish-purple flowers with citrusy fragrance.

Grandifloras have large flowers in clusters:

All Dressed Up has watermelon pink blooms, mild scent.

Coretta Scott King has creamy white flowers with coral orange edges and moderate fragrance.

Gold Medal is tall growing with golden yellow flowers suffused with orange and has a rich fruity scent.

Strike it Rich has golden yellow flowers suffused with red and strong fragrance.

Sweet Spirit has bright red flowers with a strong, sweet fragrance.

Floribundas are shorter plants with smaller flowers in clusters:

Arctic Blue has lavender blue flowers and a fruity fragrance.

Betty Boop has yellow-ivory flowers edged with red and fruity fragrance.

Celestial Night has deep purple flowers and strong fragrance.

Easy on the Eyes has peachy/pink flowers with a red eye and spicy fragrance.

WHENEVER I CATCH the scent of a fragrant garden rose, I am instantly transported to childhood memories of working in the garden with my grandma, Maude O’Hara. Maude was famous for her quick Irish temper. I loved working with her because it was great fun to rile her up so she’d chase me with the broom she always kept nearby.

Maude loved roses. Not just any rose, though. Only the most fragrant roses earned a spot in her garden. Unfortunately, in those days, most fragrant roses were highly susceptible to black spot, a disease that causes the leaves to turn yellow with ugly spots before falling off prematurely. It was a constant battle, requiring frequent spraying, to keep the foliage looking good. Maude was constantly looking for roses that were resistant to disease, but there just weren’t many to choose from, and very few of those had fragrance.

Fortunately, times have changed. Now a number of top rose growers are breeding highly resistant plants with fragrance a top priority. To find out which are some of the best, I asked two renowned rose experts to recommend their favorite new, disease-resistant roses.

• John Christianson is the owner of Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon. The nursery is famous for its spectacular mixed borders, where staffers trial newly introduced roses for a year before deciding which ones to recommend to the public. One of Christianson’s favorites is ‘Princesse Charlene de Monaco’. This practically disease-free hybrid tea features 4-inch, fully double blossoms of pastel pink with warm apricot highlights and a strong fruity bouquet. If you’re a fan of “Downton Abbey,” you’re sure to love another of Christianson’s recommendations: Named for the Countess of Grantham, ‘Violet’s Pride’ is a floribunda with luscious, spicily fragrant, 4-inch lavender-purple blossoms centered with deep magenta, creating a gorgeous two-tone effect.

• Nita-Jo Rountree is author of the newly released “Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest.” Of the new roses, she recommends the award-winning ‘Polar Express Sunbelt’. This shrub rose produces fragrant clusters of long-lasting, shimmering white blooms backed with dark-green, glossy foliage. It took the 2016 Biltmore International Rose Trials by storm last fall, winning Most Outstanding Rose, Best Floribunda and Best Growth Habit. Another of Rountree’s favorites is a new David Austin introduction, ‘The Ancient Mariner’. It features big, radiant flowers centered in deep pink, surrounded by a halo of paler petals at the edges, and it’s scented in rich myrrh.

By the way, if you’re like me and can’t resist growing a few of those spectacular, but highly susceptible, heirloom roses, try the method Maude taught me to help prevent disease problems in her rose garden: After we finished the spring pruning, when the new growth on the lowest branches reached about a foot tall, it was my job to go out and remove all of the new leaves within 11 inches from the ground.

Maude knew that black-spot spores fall to the ground in winter, and then reinfect the plant when they are splashed onto the lower leaves by spring rain. If there are no leaves near the ground, the disease is prevented from gaining a foothold.

It isn’t a panacea, though. Susceptible roses eventually require sprays as the summer wears on, but the onslaught of the disease is significantly delayed. The method was so successful, neighbors rarely failed to tell Maude that her roses looked the best in the neighborhood, especially if her broom was nearby.

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“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.” –Unknown

Where do roses want to be in your garden?

Like people, roses can be particular about where they find themselves, so let’s survey your yard. Where is there morning sun? Does that spot get at least 6 hours of sun? Does a gentle breeze run through it to dry leaves from morning dew? Is the soil rich and slightly acidic? Is it near a water source? Does it drain well? Is it not too cold and not too hot?

All that would be ideal, but if like most yards yours isn’t quite perfect, remember that the real key to enjoying a flourishing rose garden, be it one rose or many, is to match the right rose to the right spot.

A rose is a rose, but which is best here?

Before you check our list of Recommended Roses below, consider these questions:

Do you have a little more shade than most roses like? Try climbers such as the Georgia state flower and species rose Cherokee, the beloved species Lady Banks, or the nearly thornless Bourbon rose Zephirine Drouhin. Other choices include polyantha roses such as Cecile Brunner (also known as the Sweetheart Rose), and the hybrid musk rose Ballerina. These can do with 4 to 6 hours of sun, though they’ll welcome more.

Looking for drought-tolerance? Plant rugose roses such as the incredibly fragrant Blanc Double de Coubert, or the beautiful Hansa and Therese Bugnet selections. The shrub roses in the Carefree series, and the China rose named Spice are also said to be drought resistant.

What about disease-resistant roses? While no rose is entirely free from black spot, powdery mildew or insect damage, some are much less susceptible, including the climbing roses Climbing Pinkie, New Dawn and Red Cascade, the ground cover roses such as Carefree Marvel and Sea Foam, and shrub roses Carefree Beauty (Katy Road Pink) and the color-changing Butterfly Rose or Mutabilis.

Are there thornless roses? Thorns are rare on climbers Climbing Pinkie, Lady Banks and Zephirine Drouhin, and polyantha Marie Pavie, making these beauties ideal by gates, paths, play areas and neighbor-friendly fences. As a bonus, the last two are also wonderfully fragrant.

Consider your garden’s design

From the romance of a rose-draped arch to the perfectly practical cutting garden, there’s a rose for every purpose. Cover a vast expanse with shrub roses, or on a slope try spreading ground cover roses. Compact polyanthas are lovely front row. David Austin® roses exude old-fashioned charm for eyes and nose. Back of the border belongs to tall, large China and rugose roses, while tea roses are long-stemmed cut-flower favorites.

Purchase, prepare, then plant

The ideal time to plant in Atlanta is November through March. But roses sold in containers can be planted almost anytime, as long as they receive an adequate supply of water.

Order your roses from highly regarded local nurseries, or trusted on-line sources, and make sure you’re getting top quality number 1 grade plants with 3 to 5 canes 18 inches long. Plants will be either in pots or bare root.

Prepare your rose beds by mixing equal amounts compost, peat moss and coarse sand into the top 12 inches of soil. Space your plantings according to the mature size indicated by the grower, usually 3 to 4 feet apart. Holes should be about 2 feet wide and 18 inches deep.

For bare root roses, shape a mound of the mixed soil at the bottom of the hole to support the plant’s roots, and removed damaged canes. For container roses, place the root ball on top of a layer of prepared soil in the hole. Keep in mind, when you add soil around the plant, you want the crown of the bare root rose to end up just above ground level, and the potted rose to be at the same depth as it was in the pot. Pack soil around your new roses, mulch with a 3-inch deep layer of pine straw, pine bark, or hardwood mulch, and water well.

Now what?

Water your roses deeply with one inch of water or 4 to 5 gallons per plant once a week. In summer’s intense heat, you may need to water more often, especially if there’s been no rain.

Irrigation with soaker hoses or drip irrigation lines will keep water off the foliage and discourage black spot and other leaf diseases. If spray irrigation is used, then it is best to water in the morning so that the sun’s rays will have time to dry the leaves.

Feed your roses from mid-March through Labor Day. Use a 16-4-8 formula monthly, either granular or liquid, synthetic or organic. If you’d prefer to fertilize less often, use a timed-release fertilizer such as Osmocote® every 3 months. Organic options have their own benefits in that they include micronutrients and encourage the presence of beneficial earthworms and other organisms. Organics can be either store-bought pre-mixed solutions, individual ingredients such as bone meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal, Epsom salts and composted manure, or homemade compost or even coffee grounds. Several can be “brewed” into “teas” you pour on the soil around your roses. However you feed, always water well after fertilizing.

Prune in early spring before growth begins to remove dead, damaged or crisscrossing canes. With hybrid teas, leave 4 to 6 strong canes, cutting to 24 to 30 inches high, just above a bud, and also remove any suckers. Climbers require less pruning. They are pruned to train them to fence or trellis, and after they’ve bloomed to remove canes older than 2 years to promote continued flowering. Shrub roses (including rugose roses, polyantha roses, David Austin® roses, and China roses) are pruned to maintain shape.

Enjoy the color, fragrance and beauty of your new garden!

If you’d like help, Botanica Atlanta would be happy to assist with designing, selecting, installing and maintaining your new rose garden. Contact us here for a consultation.

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Recommended Roses

The following roses are known to do well in the South, with little disease or pest problems.

(click on the linked rose names below to see images of the roses)

China Roses:

Mid to large sized, repeat bloomers, heirloom roses, generally tolerate poor soil

  • Ducher – ivory white
  • Louis Philippe – red
  • Old Blush – pink
  • Spice – blush pink to white

Climbing Roses:

Long arching canes, sizes range from very large (20-ft.) to compact, generally tolerate less sun than other roses.

  • Cherokee – species, white, fragrant, good for naturalizing
  • Climbing Pinkie – reblooming, nearly thornless
  • Lady Banks – species, very large, yellow small but profuse flowers, nearly thornless
  • New Dawn – pale pink, fragrant, vigorous grower
  • Red Cascade – miniature red blooms, disease-resistant, can also be ground cover
  • Reve d’Or – medium yellow, vigorous grower, few thorns, long bloom period
  • Zephirine Drouhin – dark pink, very fragrant, thornless, less resistant to black spot

David Austin® English Roses:

Medium to large size, repeat bloomers, fragrant, multi-petaled, cup-shaped blooms, grow as shrubs or short climbers

  • Abraham Darby® – apricot and yellow tinted with pink, arching growth
  • Heritage® – soft pink, few thorns
  • Graham Thomas® – yellow, good as a climber
  • Mary Rose® – pink, early bloomer

Ground Cover Roses:

Low-growing, spreading, reblooming

  • Carefree Marvel – pink
  • Meidiland Alba – white
  • Meidiland Red – red
  • Sea Foam – white, can be small climber
  • Wiltshire – deep pink

Polyantha Roses:

Compact rebloomers, delicate flowers in clusters, lovely for edging or front of the garden

  • Cecile Brunner (Sweetheart) – pink
  • La Marne – pink and white blend
  • Perle d’Or – peach
  • The Fairy – light pink, good groundcover or in containers
  • Marie Pavie – light pink, thornless, very fragrant

Rugose Roses:

Tall, tough, wide-branching, fragrant, colorful hips in fall through winter, shade and drought tolerant, avoid placing near a path due to spiny thorns

  • Blanc Double De Coubert – white
  • Hansa – red-violet
  • Rosa rugosa – species, red
  • Therese Bugnet – lilac pink

Shrub Roses:

Near-constant blooming in clusters, ideal for mass plantings, hedges, high traffic areas

  • Ballerina – pink
  • Belinda’s Dream – pink
  • Bonica – pale pink
  • Butterfly (Mutabilis) – color changing from orange to yellow to pink to crimson
  • Caldwell Pink – pink
  • Carefree Beauty (Katy Road Pink) – pink
  • Carefree Wonder – pink
  • Else Poulsen – pink, fragrant
  • Grandma’s Yellow – yellow, long blooming
  • Iceberg – white
  • Marie Daly – dwarf, pink
  • Souvenir de St. Anne’s – light pink, very fragrant, long blooming

Tea Roses:

Cut-flower favorites, fragrant, vigorous growers

  • Duchess de Brabant – pink
  • Georgetown – dark pink center that fades to light pink
  • Madame Antoine Mari – pink blend
  • Marie Van Houtte – yellow to pink
  • Mister Lincoln – classic red
  • Mrs. B. R. Cant – rosy red

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