From the Ground Up: Pick the Right Rose Variety for Iowa

The beauty of the rose inspires passion and desire.

The passion for gardening does not wane in the winter months; rather, it grows while yearning for the first signs of spring to arrive. Those signs have arrived and now is not only the time to choose and plant new rose varieties, as Linn County Master Gardener Deb Walser suggests, but also to get out and celebrate the growing season with the community at one of the many events going on this week.

Q: What are the best rose varieties to grow in Eastern Iowa?

A: A variety of rose types do well here.

When choosing a rose, choose one that is growing on its own root system. Most roses that are budded or grafted need to be babied to survive.

The Knock Out rose is a favorite. Originally in red, it's now available in double red (more flower petals), pink, double pink and yellow. These are selfcleaning, no deadheading needed. Simply cut back the dead in the spring and watch them go. Another series by the same producers of Knock Out are Drift roses.

Drift Roses are a cross between full-size ground cover roses and miniature roses. They are tough, disease resistant and winter hardy. They are compact, bloom continuously from spring to frost and are available in coral, peach, pink, red and sweet.

Carpet roses also grow on their own roots and come in many colors. They grow 12 inches high and spread 3 to 5 feet. Easy Elegance, another in the shrub rose series, is a true 'plant it and forget it' rose. Bloom size varies and some have fragrance.

A favorite is Grandmas Blessing, which has large pink double flowers (by shrubs standards) and is sweetly fragrant. Little Mischief is deep pink with a white eye. Flower Age is a soft pink. Other choices are: High Voltage, Paint the Town, and Sweet Fragrance. Hardy climbing roses with little maintenance include the Canadian series. William Baffin is an easy no care rose with loads of deep strawberry semidouble blooms with a white eye. Red hips form for winter interest. I planted two Rambling Red roses five years ago. Every year it produces loads of 3to 4-inch fully double red blooms in clusters.

Shrub roses are not your only choice. There are many Hybrid tea, Floribunda and Grandiflora roses at your quality garden centers. Some are on their own root and are well worth looking into. Hybrid Teas are known for having large flowers on long stems.

Floribunda's have cluster blooms. A hardy and poplar one is a newer rose with double yellow, non-fading blooms, called Julia Child. This is a must have for those looking for a yellow rose. A new white rose on its own root system is Bolero with more than 100 petals.

Grandifloras have large blooms on long stems. One of the Legends series is the Oprah Winfrey rose. It is a deep fragrant red rose. Also look for Ebb Tide, fragrant with ruffled, brilliant lavender blooms. We all know pests attack roses, but with a good maintenance plan, roses can be enjoyed for years. Now, let's get planting. 


• Much Ado About Willow , 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Kirkwood Community College's Cedar Hall, Room 234, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Former Willowglen Nursery owners Lee Zieke and Lindsay Lee of Decorah share their love affair with all things willow. Free.

• Raised Bed Gardening , 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. No space for a garden? Plant enough vegetables in a 4-foot-by-4-foot garden to feed two people for the season or a family of four, using only 4-footby-8-foot. Master Gardener Deb Walser will teach you how. Free. 

• Growing and Using Culinary Herbs , 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha. Learn how to use and preserve fresh herbs from Master Gardener Judy Bemer. Cost is $ 5 . 

• ECO Iowa City: Documentary 'Dive,' 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City. Watch the movie 'Dive,' inspired by a curiosity about our country's careless habit of sending food straight to landfills. 

• Edible Forest Garden Implementation , 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Draco Hill Homestead, 25 miles east of Iowa City. Go to for more information. 

• Matthew 25's fourth annual Tool Sale , 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Matthew 25's warehouse, 225 K Ave NW, Suite G, Cedar Rapids. Donations of tools are being accepted until Tuesday. Rain barrels also are for sale. 

 ECO-FEST, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in the NewBo area, Third Street SE. This family-friendly festival includes interactive art and educational activities, eco-product and eco-practice demonstrations, entertainment, health and fitness challenges, and fun ways to learn to reduce and reuse personal and household items. 

• Michelle Kenyon Brown is community ag programs manager for Linn County Extension & Outreach. Send questions to From the Ground Up

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