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Ready For Drift Roses?

Picture by Tm (talk | contribs), Transferred from Flickr via Flickr2Commons.

By Paul James

Have you ever considered growing Drift roses? Have you even heard of Drift roses? Compared to more classic roses, be they hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, Knock Out, or David Austin roses, they’re simply not as well known. But if you love roses and don’t necessarily have the space for the classics or the time to tend to them, then you really should consider Drift roses.

Drift roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniature roses, and were developed by the same folks who brought to market the hugely successful Knock-Out rose series. They’re often called groundcover roses because they grow to roughly 18-inches tall and three-feet wide. They’re available in red, pink, white, yellow, coral, and apricot (including bicolors) with varying degrees of fragrance. And within the world of roses, they’re the most low maintenance. 

Intrigued? I hope so. Here’s what else you need to know about these beauties.
Shop Drift Groundcover Roses
Drift and Knock-Out are registered trademarks of Star Roses and Plants/Conrad Pyle.

Sun and Soil

They need at least six hours of sun and decent soil that drains well. If you have heavy clay soil, amend it at planting time with homemade compost or a bagged, composted product such as Espoma Raised Bed Mix, FoxFarm's Happy Frog, or any number of excellent soil amendments we offer.
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Long Blooming

They bloom roughly every five to six weeks from early spring to November, and don’t require deadheading because they’re pretty much self-cleaning. Of course if you’re a neat freak you can certainly remove the faded flowers, but I’m guessing you probably have better things to do.
54.3% of Gen Z and 56.4% of Gen Y respondents expect to spend more time gardening in 2024 compared to 2023.
Your call. Fact is, they don’t require pruning, though they can be sheared in late winter to a height of eight inches or so. I suggest you grow them a year or two before deciding if they actually need to be pruned.

What About Fertilizer?

They don’t require fertilizer, but a blast of Espoma Rose-tone every six weeks during the growing season can’t hurt. Just don’t fertilize after August; doing so may encourage tender new growth that might be subject to freeze damage.
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They’re pretty darn resistant to powdery mildew, rust, and black spot. They occasionally (though rarely) succumb to Cercospora leaf spot, a fungus characterized by small brown to purple circular spots that causes leaves to yellow. Copper fungicides, especially when used with Bonide’s Revitalize (a bacterial fungicide), have been shown to be highly effective at controlling or eliminating the fungus.
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When to Water

They’re drought-resistant after their first year in the ground. Water newly planted roses at planting time, and twice a week through the spring and summer. Afterwards, water maybe once a week or so, especially during really dry summers.

Put ‘Em in a Pot

They grow great in containers. Choose a container that’s at least twice the size of the rose, and plan on watering more frequently. Use a good quality potting mix -- we have several -- and fertilize every three weeks or so because nutrients are quickly leached out of container plantings.
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Designing with Drift Roses

One of the best ways to use Drift roses is in front of larger shrubs -- Abelia, Nandina, Spiraea, just to name three -- to create a layered look. Yellow- and red-flowered varieties look especially cool in front of yellow-tinged conifers, while every color pops in front of green conifers. They also look great in front of classic roses. Use them at the front of beds as a border or let them trail over walls, containers, even hanging baskets. And for erosion control on sloping ground, they’re ideal.

The Classic Roses

As much as I love Drift roses, there’s no getting around the fact that the classics are far more popular, especially among rosarians. And we've got your favorites, most of which are flowering beautifully, but they’re selling fast.
Shop Roses
In the United States the average homeowner spends 70 hours per year on gardening.

Mother’s Day Gift Cards

Make Mother’s Day special (and easier on you) by getting mom a Southwood Gift Card that she can use to buy Drift roses -- or anything else in the store. And do it all electronically!
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Coming Next Week -- Rose of Sharon

Whether you call them Althea or Hibiscus or Rose of Sharon, you really should consider planting at least one of these beautiful and tough plants, which is why I’m highlighting next week.
Tip Of The Week

Warmer temperatures mean more frequent watering of container plants, as often as everyday, unless of course rains do the job for you.
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