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Knockout roses provide color and structure without high maintenance.

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Growing roses in the humid Southeast can be a struggle. The heat and moisture encourage blackspot, leaves quickly turn yellow and drop, and the roses seem to need endless spraying and pruning. The development of knockout roses was a great help for gardeners who wanted roses in their garden but needed a less high-maintenance rose.

Knockout roses are aggressive growers which fill out with deep green leaves and plenty of single or double petal flowers. An individual knockout rose can be an excellent centerpiece in a garden of perennials or annuals, while several roses can easily form a hedge. Pink and red knock out roses are a familiar site in the Charlotte area. Recently developed colors include Sunny, a pale yellow variety which is also fragrant.

Knockout roses can be planted in Fall or Spring. Plant your knockout roses in a sunny, well drained area. Mix compost into the soil where the rose will be planted, and add either a balanced fertilizer or a rose fertilizer. Adding mycorrhizal fungi and root stimulator to the soil when planting can encourage the young rose bush to grow roots quickly to become established. Mulch the soil to retain moisture in the soil and discourage weeds from growing.

During the first year or two, pay close attention at to whether the plant is being watered adequately and if the soil is draining properly. Once the rose has grown to 4 feet or more and become established, the roses should be pruned down to 3 feet in late January. This is also a good time to cut out smaller branches if the bush has become too thick and crowded. The rose will grow back aggressively, producing lots of flowers. Encourage more new flower growth by periodically removing the spent flower heads.

In the attached video, P. Allen Smith interviews Steve Hutton on the care and advantages of planting knockout roses.

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