Flowering Shrubs - Choosing a Rose Bush, Part 2

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Part 2

Choosing the right variety of rose bush can be confusing. In this 2 part article, we are looking at the decisions you need to make in order to find the variety of rose bush that you can be happy with for years to come.

In part 1, we dealt with flowers, fragrance and form. In this section, we will deal with thorns, leaves, and disease resistance.


Yes, they all have thorns, but not all of them have those nice, curved, single direction thorns. Those are the one found on florist shop roses that only hurt if you rub them in a certain direction. I saw an absolutely stunning rose, great shape, fantastic color and blooms, but the thorns were about an inch long and pointing straight out, at least 8 per inch of stem. If I needed to plant this under a window where I didn't want burglars entering, it would be awesome to have that rose right by a window. For the right location and the right person, those thorns are a minor price to pay. If you have kids and pets around who are prone to trip, this detail becomes important.

Decision - single or uni-direction thorns, thorn intensity.


This criteria isn't often a high priority for most, but when your rose leaf has a tendency to look hairy, or a dark glossy green, it often makes an impact on how the rose flower stands out, or how the shrub is used as a backdrop when it isn't in flower.

Decision - how often will you be looking at just leaves, how important is that to you.

Disease Resistance

The common single big flower type (tea rose) are known for having more trouble with disease and blackspot. That's why they require more care, and can't have stuff planted near them. That's also why the new craze is Knock out roses and Oso easy. The jury is still out on whether the overall plant/flower is superior, but the resistance is said to be. The species roses are the ones most likely to be hardy and resistant to disease, though. As plants were bred for certain traits, they often lost some of their toughness. Newer is not always better. Antique roses are more resistant than many new types, also.

Decision - how much do you want to care for/treat the shrub?

Once you have picked the criteria most important to you, you can either ask your local nursery what they have that fits those needs. This is useful because they often will only have plants that do well in your area, and know more about them than a big box store clerk will. The downside is that they carry only a small selection, and that selection may not match your criteria as well as you would like.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find a variety that is exactly what you want, matching every one of your needs, only to find out that no one has it available for sale that year, not even online. This requires you to choose - hold out for exactly what you want, or get the closest thing available. Places such as Gardenstew and Dave's Garden let you see if other gardeners have reviewed that variety (is it really as good as advertised?). If you have to have a certain type, a website called helpmefind is very useful. The antique rose emporium is also helpful.

Either way, if you spend a bit of time deciding what you want, you will likely be more happy with a flowering shrub that may be around for decades.

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Author: LJ Jackson
LJ Jackson is the owner of Growing Obsessions Wholesale Nursery and myfloweringshrubs.com. Click for an honest, pro/con discussion on popular lowering shrubsflowering shrubs.

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