BORING! Have you heard that word lately? Saying that one word was the sure fire way to draw my mom’s ire when I was a kid. And to get a couple of chores added to my to-do list.

Well, that’s how I always used to feel about this month’s Garden Goodie, Knock-Out Roses.™ Overused. Common. Boring. This medium-sized shrub is often seen in Kansas City landscapes – whether it’s in front of someone’s home, at a business park or at a golf course. It is a mainstay of flowering shrubs in this area. So I didn’t use them very often in my beginning landscape designs. I stayed away from those “boring” bushes.

That didn’t last long. There are very few flowering shrubs that give the quantity of flowers over the course of the summer that the Knock-Out Rose provides. These shrubs start blooming in early summer and keep on going through to fall. The bright color of the regular Knock-Out Rose adds a splash of hot pink all summer long. They require very little care – regular watering, light mulching and decent soil is usually enough to make them happy. They truly are the answer for many landscapes where low maintenance and awesome color are priorities. And so I use them – even in my own landscape. And I use them with pride!

They are super easy to maintain. Each spring, I cut my roses off at around 1 – 1 ½ feet off the ground. This allows them to grow new branches, which keeps them smaller, more shapely and healthy. I apply a general, slow release fertilizer in the spring, as well as a good layer of mulch. At that point, you can usually just let them go! Since I love being in my garden and doing little tasks here and there (cheap therapy!), I also deadhead them a few times each summer. Deadheading is the process where you cut off spent flower heads, allowing the plant to spend energy into forming new flowers instead of supplying it to the old flowers. This gives my shrubs a nicer look between blooming sessions and also gives me a couple more rounds of flowers each year than if I didn’t do it. However, you do not need to deadhead these plants. They will re-bloom regardless, which is one of their bonus features!

Dead flower head to remove

Flower head to cut off.

Shrub prior to deadheading

Shrub prior to deadheading.

Shrub after deadheading

Shrub after deadheading.

Now, maintenance may be easy, but not as much as it used to be. Once resistant to many types of disease, there are some diseases and insects that have found ways to cause problems. Many of these issues can be resolved by using a general rose care product, which includes fertilizer and pesticide in the same product. Rose Rosette, a disease spread by little mites, will require removal of the plant. However, as plant maintenance goes, the Knock-Out is still one of the easiest shrubs around.

So I go back to my youth and the important lesson I learned (in order to avoid excess chores) and I no longer use the word “boring”! Especially with these beautiful shrubs that provide tons of color with very little work. I give them credit where credit is due! They are one of my Garden Goodies and I’m proud to say it! Of course, this comes after years of deadheading therapy … See you next month!