Choosing roses for the garden

Deciding which roses to grow in the garden is a highly personal choice based on fragrance, color, and the time you’re willing to spend on their care.  I’ve had the best luck with the Knockout-type of shrub roses. I can pretty much leave them be and they’re happy all summer.

Susan Fox is an author and consulting rosarian for the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. If you prefer the traditional types of roses, she recommends the hybrid tea varieties with a large bloom on each stem and lovely fragrance. They used to be fussy to maintain, but breeders have created new varieties that are disease-resistant and hardy.

Floribunda varieties look like clusters of hybrid teas, and are among her favorites.

"They are famous because they’re low, they’re compact, their profusion of bloom is rapid in cycles. They’re smaller and little bit less tall than hybrid teas. If you want a showy garden and you just want people to ooh and ahh, plant floribundas," says Fox.

The final growth height needs to be a consideration and how the roses will blend in with the rest of the garden space or landscaping. Climbing roses are trained to grow upward like vines, and are beautiful on trellises or buildings.

Don’t have a lot of space? Miniature roses have all the fragrance and beauty of a regular rose in a tiny package, and they’re also quite hardy.

Fox says rose breeders are continually working on improvements that you’ll see coming down the pike. 

"I’m seeing roses that are giving people exactly what they have been asking for. No-spray roses, easy to grow, winter hardy. People say to hybridizers, I want a rose that looks like a rose, smells like a rose, and I don’t want to spray it," she says. "You’re going to see better and better roses."