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ARS Penn-Jersey District Carewinners:
Easy-to-Care-For Roses for Every Garden

(Go to the current list under evaluation.)

By Don Myers
Chairman, Consulting Rosarians, Penn-Jersey District

Roses are not difficult to grow if you choose the right varieties and understand a few basics about them. Many roses require less maintenance than the typical hybrid tea, but still manifest all the beauty and vigor that characterizes our national flower at its best. How do you identify an easy-to-care-for rose? The Penn-Jersey CareWinners Program was created to identify these roses, and to promote their use by the general public. The criteria for selection are the following:

  • Garden Friendly - First, any rose bush requires minimal care to get it established. Proper planting and watering in the first year at least are important and shouldn't be ignored. Few plants can just be stuck in the ground and forgotten about. Some roses may respond to this method, but there is clear benefit from watering and fertilizing from water and fertilizer, but a CareWinner should be able to thrive without too much pampering.
  • Vigorous - Roses vary in their growth habit and amount of growth. A CareWinner should grow readily after planting and after bloom. Once established, a CareWinner should thrive in the garden. Fertilizer is beneficial but not absolutely necessary.
  • Abundant Bloom - CareWinners bloom freely. This means that there are many blooms per plant and that the plant is rarely without a display. The best CareWinners bloom early and are among the last to stop in autumn. Many of these roses have hips that are attractive in the winter.
  • Winter Hardy - Some varieties are notorious for not surviving a cold Winter. Winter hardiness is complex and relates to the lowest temperature and to the pattern of temperature extremes. A Care Winner will survive under most winter situations. Some winter damage may occur but the plant will survive and due to its vigor, will prosper in the following season.
  • Available - Nothing is more frustrating to the average gardener than wanting a particular variety and not being able to find it. The average gardeners not ne4cessarily aware of all the mail order companies that sell roses. Many of the local nurseries feature roses that are not easy-to-care-for. Therefore, it is important that local rose societies encourage nurseries to stock CareWinners. Local rose societies also need to make sure that the average gardener is aware of mail order sources and deadlines for ordering roses.
  • No Spraying Required - When people think of rose care and those things that they dislike, the first thing on the list is usually spraying. The need to spray is probably the number one factor that limits the growth of the rose hobby. Spraying a Penn-Jersey CareWinner is not required, but may benefit some of those selected.
    The need for spraying or not spraying has been a difficult criterion to evaluate. Many of our best rosarians spray their roses regularly. For those who grow hybrid teas or exhibit their roses, it's difficult not to spray regularly. The exhibitor in the northeast US is well aware that blackspot can consume a garden of hybrid teas without a regular spay program, but out top exhibitors are the very people who grow the most roses and the newest varieties. Therefore, it is difficult to find people to evaluate roses that will meet this criterion.
    When needs to be evaluated in determining the need to spray? The number one problem for the northeast and many other parts of the country is blackspot. There seems to be some confusion about evaluating roses for blackspot resistance. On one hand, a rose that never gets the disease is considered immune to blackspot. A second or lesser level of resistance is considered to be tolerant. A tolerant rose will get the disease but continue to grow anyway. Typically, a tolerant rose will not defoliate significantly. A third class is susceptibility. In this class, rose varieties will vary from less defoliation to complete defoliation. In the worst case, a single lesion on a highly susceptible variety is enough to cause that leaf to drop.
    Unfortunately, the typical hybrid tea is most often in the susceptible class and these varieties range from partial to complete defoliation. Roses need their leaves to manufacture the food required for growth and flowering. Roses that defoliate due to blackspot will have a few small blooms, look unsightly, and will be more sensitive to winter kill. That is why the typical non-spraying gardener in the northeast who grows only hybrid teas will often come to view the rose as an annual. A CareWinner must be one that overcomes this problem.
    Very few roses are immune to blackspot. On a practical level, the rose that comes close is Knock Out. There may be a few spots on this variety, but generally it is disease free. Whether there are other desirable varieties like Knock Out, I am not sure. There are, however, a number of varieties in the tolerant class. These varieties exhibit some level of blackspot but continue to grow and flower anyway. Defoliation is minimal. These roses would benefit from an occasional spray but will continue to flower and proper without spraying. Local rose societies need to educate the public that a little blackspot is OK on a tolerant variety. It would be nice if we had numerous varieties immune to blackspot, but Care Winners show good tolerance to blackspot with minimal defoliation.

CareWinners' List Evaluators

The following section is a list of varieties that seem to meet the criteria of easy care roses. The roses listed in this article are the result of evaluation by some of the top rosarians across the Penn-- Jersey District. Major contributors include Fr. Gervase Degenhardt, Kevin Glaes, Stacey Fore-Catron, Mark Huss, Rocco Lapenta, Tom Mayhew, Nancy Redington, Joan Singer, Kathleen Lapergola, Sandra Webber, Dave Wolff and David and Judy Yingling.

Each rose variety needs several positive reports from evaluators in order to make the list. With further testing some varieties may be eliminated and new ones added. The opinions of other evaluators are always welcome.

Don Myers
Chairman, Consulting Rosarians, Penn-Jersey District
102 Maple Ave.
Goshen, NY 10924-6413
Email: rokirose@frontiernet.net

The Current List Under Evaluation - 2003

Giggles Medium peachy pink, medium green foliage, upright tall growth, a big, vigorous plant with lots of bloom
Gourmet Popcorn Masses of puffy white semi-double blooms, slight fragrance, upright bushy growth
Jeanne Lajoie Climbing miniature, medium pink 1" blooms, upright growth - will climb and climb!
Ruby Pendant Ruby red blooms, vigorous grower
Hybrid Tea
Elina Huge light yellow blooms, vigorous plant, extremely floriferous, blooms all summer, but winter tender in the coldest areas
Frederic Mistral shades of light pink, fragrant, glossy foliage, extremely vigorous, 4-5 ft. tall, highly resistant to blackspot
The McCartney Rose medium pink, highly fragrant, excellent blackspot resistance for a hybrid tea
Rina Hugo deep neon pinkish raspberry color, astonishing color in summer, quite hardy, not fragrant
Traviata deep red Conard-Pyle rose, old garden form, vigorous growth, shiny foliage, slight fragrance, available at many local garden centers
Sutton Place light pink with salmon pink edge, large blooms, large foliage, tall bushy growth
Belinda's Dream medium pink, small clusters of bloom, fruity fragrance, grows to about 5 ft.
Betty Boop yellow with rosy-edged blooms, 6 petals, fruity fragrance, grows to 4 ft.
Betty Prior carmine pink bloom clusters, moderate fragrance, vigorous bushy growth
Escapade magenta, white-centered blooms, slight fragrance, glossy light green foliage
Iceberg (climbing) pure white bloom clusters, intense fragrance, glossy foliage
Livin' Easy rich apricot blooms aging to orange, vigorous growth, shiny foliage, good disease resistance
Playboy scarlet blooms with gold eye, glossy dark foliage, slight fragrance
Red Flower Carpet medium red
Sunsprite deep yellow 3" blooms, upright growth, fragrant
White Flower Carpet nearly white blooms touched with pink
La Marne great hedge plant, pink and white blooms, no fragrance, 4-6 ft. tall
The Gift near white blooms
Shrub (Large)
Autumn Sunset (sport of Westerland) - apricot blend, outstanding winter hardiness for a yellow-type, bushy tall climbing growth, good repeat ruffled bloom, intense fruity fragrance
Blanc Double de Coubert white hybrid rugosa, intense fragrance, repeat bloom, vigorous, 5-7 ft tall, hips in the autumn
Graham Thomas deep yellow, very vigorous, lots of bloom, David Austin rose, old rose form, very fragrant, can be very large, good repeat bloom, will sprawl in the Fall
Hansa large, mauvy-red blooms, intense fragrance, vigorous growth, large red hips
Jens Munk hybrid rugosa, medium pink, intense fragrance with upright bushy growth, nice yellow stamens, very hardy in severe climates
Linda Campbell hybrid rugosa, medium red, a real red rugosa, huge bouquets of flowers, not as blackspot resistant as other rugosas, big vigorous plant, fast repeat with no fragrance
Robusta medium red, single, moderate fragrance, glossy foliage, very vigorous, upright and bushy
Rosa roxburghii medium pink, species rose, prickly bud, lilac pink flowers, spring and summer bloom, produces hips, grows to 6 ft.
Sally Holmes big white bouquets with contrasting apricot buds, single (5-8 petals), a big vigorous plant, slight fragrance, dark glossy foliage
Scarlet Meidiland medium red, first bloom is later than most, repeats, tolerates some shade, large shrub, excellent as hedge in landscape
Tumbling Waters light pink, looks white to me, good fragrance, short white groundcover, Town & Country Rose
Westerland apricot/copper/orange blend, bronzy green foliage, very winter hardy, always in bloom, like Autumn Sunset
William Baffin hybrid kordesii, deep pink touched with white, large bloom clusters, vigorous and extra hardy climber
Shrub (Medium)
Autumn Damask medium pink, intense damask fragrance, blooms late into the Fall, old garden rose
Carefree Delight pink blend, small blooms, no care, glossy foliage, lots of bloom the entire season
Carefree Wonder pink blend, profuse, spays, slight fragrance, a good hedge rose
Cherry Meidiland medium cherry red (electric), white eye, no spray, 6 ft high and wide, orange hips in the Fall
Frau Dagmar Hartropp silvery pink, first to bloom in the spring, compact plant, sweet spicy fragrance (cloves), orange-red hips in the Fall
Golden Wings Light yellow blooms, prominent stamens, slight fragrance, vigorous growth
Knock Out cherry red, shiny blue-green foliage, very hardy, iron-clad resistance to blackspot, landscape use, 5-7 petals
La Marne Great hedge plant, pink and white blooms, 4-6 ft. tall
Marchesa Boccella (Jacques Cartier) - light pink old garden rose, good form, fragrant
Red Meidiland red blend
Sevillana dense clusters of brilliant red, hedge, long bloom period, red hips in Fall, spreads
Starry Night single white clusters, disease resistant, always in bloom, self-trimming, spreads
White Meidiland (Alba Meidiland) large white flowers, glossy foliage, spreading growth
Shrub (Small)
Augusta peach blooms, small foliage, low spreading growth to 24 inches
Baby Blanket light pink, pretty flowers in large cluster, slight fragrance, bushy spreading growth, ground cover
Baby Love medium yellow, bright yellow single blooms, mild licorice fragrance, 3-4 ft. tall
Bonica medium pink, clusters of semi-double, light pink blooms, own root, sprawling growth
Royal Bonica medium pink, improved selection of Bonica, clusters of twenty or more larger, deep pink blooms, 34 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide, informal hedge or mass planting, bright orange hips
Dortmund medium, strawberry red with white eye, blooms in clusters, can be trained as a small climber, orange-red hips develop readily, very hardy
New Dawn silvery blush pink, most popular rose in the world in 1997, a standard to which other climbers are compared


  1. Heirloom Roses, 24062 NE Riverside Dr., St Paul, OR 97137,503-538-1576 www.heirloomroses.com
  2. Wayside Gardens, 1 Garden Lane, Hodges, SC 29695-0001,800-845-1124 www.waysidegardens.com
  3. Hortico Inc., 723 Robson Rd., RR1 Waterdown Ontario LOR 2H1, Canada, 905-689-6984 http://hortico.bigwave.ca
  4. Arena Roses, PO Box 3096, Paso Robles, CA 93447, 888-466-7434 www.arenaroses.com
  5. The Antique Rose Emporium, 9300 lueckemeyer Rd., Brenhem, TX 77833-6453,800-441-0002 www.weAREroses.com
  6. Jackson and Perkins, 1 Rose Lane, Medford, OR 97501, 800-292-4769 www.jacksonandperkins.com
  7. Edmunds Roses, 6235 SW Kahle Rd., Wilsonville OR 97070-9727, 888-481-7673 edmundsroses.com
  8. Witherspoon Rose Culture, PO Box 52489, Durham, NC 27717-2489,800-643-0315 www.witherspoonrose.com
  9. Bridges Roses, 2734 Toney Rd., lawndale, SC 28090,704-538-9412 http://www.bridgesroses.com
  10. Justice Miniature Roses, 5947 SW Kahle Rd., WilsonV'ille, OR 97070,503-682-2370 justrose@gte.net
  11. The Roseraie at Bayfields, (closed, owners retired)
  12. Roses Unlimited, Rt. 1, Box 587, North Deer Wood Dr., laurens, SC 29360 864-682-7673 www.rosesunlimitedownroot.com

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