I remember as a child spending my summers in Atlanta with my grandparents, affectionately called Dear and Gramps. I would watch Gramps tend to his flower and vegetable gardens hoping to one day do the same with my own. It seemed to bring him peace and tranquility to work in his gardens. Unlike my cousins, I always wanted to assist him, especially when it was time to pick the strawberries. Yummy.
Now that I have my own garden, I’ve realized that its a lot of hard work! My grandfather made it seem so easy. A lot of time and effort has to go into keeping up the appearance and well-being of your plants and flowers. At one point I shyed away from gardening thinking I didn’t have a green thumb like my grandfather, but I really wanted a rose bush. Roses have always been my favorite flower. They’re so fragrant and beautiful. After doing research, I found that Knock Out rose bushes are by the far the easiest rose bush to care for. You don’t need a green thumb but just a little time each week to tend to their needs. So a few years ago for Valentine’s Day instead of the dozen of pink roses my husband usually gave me, I was quite surprised to see four Knock Out rose bushes in containers. He planted them for me once the danger of the last frost was over, and I have cared for them ever since. If you are looking for a low-maintenance rose bush, you should check out the Knock Out rose bush.
Knock Out Rose History
William Radler, a rose breeder in Wisconsin was fascinated by roses from a young age. When he was only nine-years old, he spent his allowance on a rose plant determined to care for it. As a rose breeder, he was determined to create a heat-tolerant and disease-resistant rose. He tested over 500 seedlings growing under a fluorescent light in the basement of his home. In 1988, he discovered the first Knock Out rose by cross-breeding Razzle Dazzle and Carefree Beauty.
Knock Out roses are low-maintenance roses that are perfect for people who love roses but do not necessarily have a green thumb. This breed of roses is heat-tolerant and can grow in any area of the United States. Ranging in a variety of colors such as red, pink, white and yellow, Knock Out roses can grow up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide if left unpruned. Their bloom period is from spring to early fall, with continuous blooms throughout which will deadhead themselves. They are ideally planted along a foundation or sidewalk area to add curb appeal to your front yard, making you the envy of the neighborhood.
Preparing the Rose Bed
Select an area in your landscape to plant your Knock Out roses. The area should have six to eight hours a day of full sunshine with some afternoon shade. The soil should drain well, therefore avoiding the bottom of a sloped area. Contact your county extension to conduct a soil analysis for you on site or take a soil sample to them. Soil pH for roses should be between 6.0 to 7.0 for optimum growth. The results of the soil test will reveal the amendments to enrich your soil before planting the roses.
Remove and discard grass, weeds, plants, rocks and debris from the planting area. You may need a tiller to clear and smooth the area. A tiller can be rented at your local home improvement store. Amend the soil by spreading a 4-inch layer of organic matter such as compost as well as 3 pounds of superphosphate per 100 square feet of the area. Mix together with a garden fork to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.
Decide how many Knock Out roses you would like to plant in the garden bed. Knock Out rose bushes can grow from 4 to 6 feet wide. Set the roses still in the containers in the bed, spacing them at least 4 feet apart to allow for growth and room to walk in-between the rose bushes. According to the University of Missouri, bushes in general should be planted in odd numbers such as planting five or seven bushes together.
With a digging shovel, dig a hole twice the width of the nursery container but the same deepness, approximately 12 inches. Carefully remove the Knock Out rose from the container. (Wear heavy duty gloves to protect yourself from the thorns.) Discard damaged canes and roots. If the soil is dry, water it first before planting. Place the rose bush in the center of the hole and spread the roots. Make sure to set the bud union 1 inch above soil level in USDA zones 6 to 10 and 1 inch under soil level in USDA zone 5. Refill the hole, tamping the soil around the roots. Water deeply until water puddles on top of the soil. Plant the next Knock Out rose bush 4 feet apart.
Care and Maintenance
After planting, spread a 3-inch layer of mulch, such as pine straw or wood chips, throughout the rose garden. Do not use wood chips if the garden is along the foundation of your home for this could attract termites. Start the mulch 6 inches away from the base of each rose bush. The mulch will keep the ground moist and prevent weeds from growing. Before the first frost, apply another layer of mulch to keep the soil warm during the winter months.
Water the Knock Out roses during the growing season two times a week if rainfall is under 1 inch per week. Use a soaker hose on the soil avoiding the trunk of the rose bush and the foliage. Water early in the morning.
Apply 1 cup of general purpose fertilizer (10-10-10) or a rose food three times a year to your Knock Out rose bushes. Apply in the spring after the rose bush has been pruned, again in the middle of June and in the middle of July. Never fertilize after August 15, according to the University of Illinois Extension, because the rose bush needs to cease growth to prepare for dormancy. Sprinkle the fertilizer beginning 6 to 8 inches away from the base and spreading out to 18 inches. Scratch into the soil and water deeply to prevent the roots from burning.
Prune your Knock Out rose bushes in the early spring after the danger of the last frost has passed. Prune the canes back to 12 inches. During the growing season, remove spent roses, diseased or damaged canes and foliage. This will prevent further spread of disease and ward off pests.