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perennialfan275

I don't understand the obsession with knockout roses

perennialfan275
4 years ago

Where I live, this is literally the only rose anyone ever plants. I occasionally see stuff like hybrid teas planted but for the most part you only see the knockout roses planted in people's yards and in shopping areas. I know it's very easy to care for and blooms til frost, but isn't this true of many other roses as well?

Comments (45)

  • Ken Wilkinson
    4 years ago

    Great advertising. There are many roses out on the market now that are as good or better the KO's.

  • bella rosa
    4 years ago

    Same here. I had one KO bush and the JBs loved it! If that wasn't bad enough, the plant had SO much winter dieback every year. I just got rid of it. Too many beautiful low maintenance and hardy roses out there nowadays.

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  • KarenPA_6b
    4 years ago

    Of all the knockout roses, the best for me is Blush Knockout. I think it is a great rose as far as performance, vigor, and disease resistance. They make great landscaping plants. I had disposed of the red Knockout - such a boring rose and not that good performer. Pink Homerun or Homerun are better replacements.

  • sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 8b)
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    All I ever see around this area are knockout roses. The stores are starting to carry more Kordes roses. A few years ago the nursery near us had good roses grafted on for Fortuniana. They sold out really quick. Then the last few years all they have is stupid knockouts. I asked them why they didn't try selling David Austins and they had no clue what I was even talking about. I give up on the local nurseries for roses lol.

  • oldrosarian
    4 years ago

    I won't have one in my garden just on principle. When my grandkids want to know what a rose is, I wouldn't want them to think a Knockout was a rose. Bella Rosa is right, there are many beautiful roses out there with good disease resistance. Knockouts are only popular because trusting gardeners believed the advertising lies spread by the hybridizer.

  • rifis (zone 6b-7a NJ)
    4 years ago

    I would like to read the thoughts of an industry person like Newflora's Chris, and roseseek.

  • rosecanadian
    4 years ago

    This is a good topic...I've never seen a Knockout in person. So I won't add to the conversation...just "listen."

    Carol

  • witchygirrl6bwv
    4 years ago

    There are a bunch of double knockouts around the front of my house. I thought about ripping them out, but they hardly get any sun, and still bloom all summer without me doing anything. I feel kind of guilty now for neglecting them. I will prune and fertilize them this year. I wouldn't have planted them, but I don't hate them anymore. The main reason they annoy me is the popularity leads people to plant them everywhere, when they don't know about RRD. Now you have it being spread everywhere, not because of the knockout, but because it happens to be planted and forgotten everywhere. I like them better than Ruby Ice. I think of them both as shrubs with flowers.

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    I can grow many things, but roses. They require too much of my time and I kill them. I am a plant, water and then you are on your own kind of gardener. I got a few pink Knock outs and haven't done anything to them and they are growing into a bush like I wanted. I agree they are not a true rose, but it as close to a rose that I will be able to grow.

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    What is RRD?

  • fig_insanity Z7a E TN
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    functionthenlook, RRD, better called RRV, is Rose Rosette Virus, a nearly always fatal disease (sometimes the plant can be saved by drastic pruning if caught very early...unattended plants are toast) carried and transmitted by a microscopic mite that travels from one plant to another on the wind. It has ravaged roses all over the eastern US, and is still spreading. There is no cure or treatment. You can google for more info, or search here on gardenweb/houzz, but I'll post some links later, if no one else does.

    John

    Edit: I finally found what I was looking for. There are newer articles aplenty, but Anne Peck, one of our own here on the rose forums, is still one of the foremost authorities on RRV, and one of the earliest to sound the alarm. She is quoted extensively by other sources. I learned nearly everything I know about it from her, either from her website or from her posts here.

    More than you want to know: RRV

  • rifis (zone 6b-7a NJ)
    4 years ago

    OP asks for an explanation of the "obsession".

    I question perennialfan's premise.

    Countless discussions, here, attest to retailers stocking little but KOs and Drifts. And the OP may be overestimating the typical American's brainpower (and initiative).

    Retailers know their (average) customer.


  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    4 years ago

    The Knockout series were bred to be landscape roses - low growing, easy care plants for specific situations and for gardeners that are not rosarians :-) They are so popular and prevalent because they can be used in situations where traditional rose types - HD's poyanthas, OGR's, etc. - do not work well. Like commercial or institutional plantings that receive minimal attention or as a low maintenance, long flowering hedge.

    Knockouts are not the only 'brand' of landscape rose - the Flower Carpet, Easy Elegance and Drift series are also landscape roses and all have the same free flowering, low growing, low maintenance attributes of the Knockouts.....those just tend to have been more widely marketed and publicized.

    And it is just silly not to consider them "real" roses!! Of course they are! They may just not offer the same appeal to dedicated rose growers as the more standard types but they are very useful additions and very garden worthy for many situations.

  • barbarag_happy
    4 years ago

    Only in the last two years have there been alternatives to KnockOuts readily available. The typical homeowner goes to their big box store and in the rose section they find KnockOuts. So that's what they take home!

    The good news is that KnockOut has paved the way for shrub roses which can be used as landscape plants. KO's automatically assume a nice bushy shape, unlike most of the Kordes offerings. And they don't require much pruning other than to control height.

    And KnockOut's disease resistance in all colors, even white and yellow, is outstanding. I can't name another shrub rose which can be planted out in front of city hall or on a traffic island and thrive.

    Other than the Drift series, other breeders have a way to go to equal the performance of KnockOuts IMHO.


  • diane_nj 6b/7a
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    They are easy to care for, easy to obtain, and have been relatively easy to grow. The local nurseries here have prominent displays of Knock Out (they are a favorite with landscapers), and there are several mass plantings nearby. They rebloom quickly, and the plants have color throughout the growing season. People like red flowers (although here, the flowers are a hard hot pink in mid-summer). The original Knock Out is way too garish in color for me, I prefer Blushing Knock Out, which is terrific in my garden.

    Drift roses are relatively new to the local nurseries here, and I haven't gotten a lot of feedback on disease resistance. Flower Carpets are hit-or-miss with disease resistance in central NJ, and I usually don't recommend them for new rose growers.

    Are there others that are easy to grow? Yes. Are they as readily available in all areas as Knock Out? No. When I recommend an easy to grow, easy to find red, it is Home Run.

  • Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Perennialfan,

    I knock Knock Outs with the best of them, for all the reasons that have been voiced, but truly, they are still roses, and some Knock Outs have more 'character,' than others.

    I will say, I like the Double Red and Double Pink Knock Outs the best. The individual flowers are lovey to me. If they were fragrant, I would give them a try.

    I would see if I could grow them successfully this way:

    I have a gardening friend who grows the original Red Knock Out as one would manage a hybrid tea/grandiflora for exhibition flowers. In spring it is pruned to about 6 basal canes at about 12" high each (It's a mature bush.). Two, sometimes three laterals come from each basal. They are dead headed when needed. New laterals at the rate of 1-2 per first lateral come out thereafter, on and on all season long....three to rarely four good flushes a summer, depending on how early spring comes, and how warm and long fall is. At first glance you would never know it is a Knock Out by the way the bush looks, but the genuine Knock Out flowers, staged on longish laterals look elegant!

    Moses

  • modestgoddess z6 OH
    4 years ago

    availability, advertising and health

    All I see planted around Baltimore is Knockouts (always pink or red, single or double) and the occasional Dr. Huey revert. There is one expensive neighborhood where the city or neighborhood association planted Apricot or Peach Drifts in the median.

  • Genevre
    4 years ago

    This week in the local Walmart nursery section, I saw plant food labelled specifically for Knockout roses.

  • Ken Wilkinson
    4 years ago

    Let me expand on my comment. Our local big box store is Lowe's. Every spring they load up on Knock Out Roses. For this reason I grow a bed of Knock Out's in front of my porch. I take decent care of them. Water, feed, dead head. They do fantastic. This way when I have company, they see what they can buy at Lowe's. I tell them what little I do and they go home taking just a little care of their Knock Out's. A couple of roses at a time. Everyone in the neighborhood takes just a little care of their Knock Out's and they look good all season long.

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    Fig_, thank you for the info on RRV. I looked it up and hopefully my KO never gets it.

  • dan8_gw (Northern California Zone 9A)
    4 years ago

    I once had a chat with my neighbor and his landscaper as they were planning out the yard. The landscaper suggested knockout roses for color year round. When I said that there are many other great roses that bloom a lot also, he said most landscapers only recommend knockouts as they live forever, drought tolerant and bloom forever. The homeowner said that sounded perfect, and the varieties I was thinking about wouldn't really be available locally and had to be ordered online so I didn't push it.

    It's true, I've seen some magnificent shows from knockouts, but its unfortunate how many people have the mindset they won't buy a rose unless it specifically says''knockout', because that means it will be clearly be a 'knockout' in the garden. I've also seen Knockout rose food specifically for knockouts which I thought was funny. In my local hardware stores, it's not uncommon to see pallets full of knockouts come and go throughout the year. Landscapers will leave with trucks full of them at a time. They move fast so you can't really blame the stores for carrying them.

  • hugogurll
    4 years ago

    The sad part is all the municipal plantings of Knock Out in the midwest, south and east are chock full of RRV, providing a constant contaminant to all rose gardens in their area.


  • stillanntn6b
    4 years ago

    On top of phyllissteen's comment, there's the so far un appreciated disaster of the way Knock Outs are pruned in the landscape.

    Take a pruner and shear them off, Even if there's Rose Rosette in them. Then use a leaf blower to clear the clippings out of the bed. The use of a leaf blower may be the worst thing they could do as it is an excellent aid to move the RRD vector mites around a garden and to get them airborne to other roses.

  • perennialfan275
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Rifis I don't come on this board every day, so forgive me for not being aware of the "countless discussions" of these roses. And if it's not an obsession then what do you call it? People clearly love these roses as they sell like hotcakes every year even though there are many other varieties available at most garden centers.

    Also I never said I don't consider them real roses. Of course I do. They're just not what I consider to be your "typical" garden rose. And I never realized RRV was so common in these roses. I will avoid these roses at all costs.

    Gardengal you are fortunate to live in the PNW. In a climate like that you can get away with growing almost any rose. Where I live the clay is VERY hard, the soil tends to be more on the alkaline side and the winters are very harsh. This type of environment is not conducive to growing roses in the slightest but despite this knockouts will still bloom until frost. Perhaps this is the reason these roses are so common here.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    4 years ago

    Perennialfan, roses don't necessarily grow here trouble free :-) I swear this the fungal capitol of the universe and not just with roses.....if a plant is likely to contract a fungal problem, it wll happen here. I grew all manner of roses for many years in my old garden but have pretty much given up on them to due to a current lack of space and because my business does not allow me the time and attention roses need here to grow well. But the Knockouts and all other landscape roses are just as popular here as they are anywhere else, precisely for the reasons that make them so popular - long (even ever-) blooming, low maintenance, drought tolerant, self cleaning and disease resistant.

    And it is not that Knockouts are more prone to RRV but rather that they tend to be utilized mostly in mass plantings and the proximity to their brothers in these mass plantings just allows the disease to proliferate. You would get the same prevalence with any rose that was planted en masse!

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    I did some reading on this RRV. It seems the increase number of roses being planted is increasing the occurrence of RRV not the type of rose being planted. It just so happens that KO are the most being planted presently. It could be any popular rose type being planted. Not necessarily KO. This effects all roses. A typical garden rose can get the virus from a KO just the same as the KO can be infected by the typical garden rose. It seems that a cure or a preventive of the spread of RRV should be addressed, not to blame a specific rose. This virus has been around since the 1940s. Long before the KO.

  • erasmus_gw
    4 years ago

    I think they look good for the most part. If you want to create a sweep of color, they work. I have a really big original KO in my front yard. I have a Carefree Sunshine KO which I think is a truly lovely rose, a delicate yellow.

    I think it could be helpful if an RRD expert or just someone who would put some effort into it would create an informational flyer for distributing to town landscape departments and landscapers. If it could be downloaded, then anyone concerned about RRD in their area could print some out and mail them to appropriate people. Heck...anyone could write a basic RRD pamphlet but it might be nice to make it a little easier and have something already written up . How about something on your site , Ann, which could be printed?

    Maybe knowledge about RRD would eventually gain enough mass that it would snowball and become common knowledge. An RRD or rose expert could also contact a tv network and offer to give a tv presentation about RRD. That would get out to a lot more people. The more sick plants that are disposed of the better! Once towns know about this disease they might not want to waste more money planting lots of Knockouts. I say it's a waste of money because in my area there is apparently not enough money to tend the plantings regularly, so any new plantings are quite apt to get RRD.

  • fig_insanity Z7a E TN
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    functionthenlook, no one blames KOs for being the cause of RRV, or even the original source. The problem is what so many people here have said about them being planted en masse, and then ignored or treated improperly once they ARE infected. See the comment by stillann6b (she's Ann Peck, the author I gave you the link to above). I can't tell you how many times here in Knoxville I have seen commercial plantings of KOs that showed significant, obvious infections, but because they were ignored because "KOs don't get diseases", they were left to dwindle away over several years, the whole time being a source of infection. In particular, there was a Ryan's Steak House with three HUGE red KOs. I noticed the infection when it was one witches' broom on one plant. I watched it progress over the next four years until all three plants were dead. When I mentioned it to management the first year, you'd have thought I had three horns growing out of my forehead. After that, I could see the progression of the disease moving down the street through three other commercial plantings (two car lots and a furniture store), and at least one private garden that had a 100' hedge they had to rip out. No, it wasn't the roses' fault, but because they were planted as a "plant and forget" shrub, they acted as long-term pools of infection. So the problem is partly public ignorance of the problem, and partly the fact that so many commercial plantings are mishandled or even ignored.

    John

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    I didn't say KO were the cause or the original source of KO. I said any rose planted in large amounts can be blamed for the spread RRV, More roses of any type in an area can facilitates the spread of RRV. Ordinary garden roses can be just as ignored as KO roses. We have a lot of wild roses around here that were at one time ordinary garden roses that people ignored and let go wild. Not everyone is experts on plants. Maybe plants should come with warring labels of possible diseases like medicine does for possible side effects.

  • fig_insanity Z7a E TN
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    uh...function...you missed the point I think. I was AGREEING with you, just pointing out the fact that since KOs ARE so prevalent, especially in badly cared for commercial settings, they are where most people see RRV, and yet where it is most likely to be ignored.

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    Fig_ My apologies, I took it as you disagreed. I just find out rose people are a little fanatical about their roses and I guess you kind of have to be due to the high maintenance of roses. To me roses are just another flower. We had 48 full grown elm trees cut down a few years ago and ground out due to Dutch Elm disease (they were here when we moved in) and I don't recall hearing people obsessing about the spread of that disease like I do about rose diseases. Just wish I would of had 48 roses to tear out than the elm trees. It would of been a whole heck of a lot cheaper. lol

  • perennialfan275
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I have a question on the RRV since I don't have a lot of experience on this matter. Let's say one of my roses did have RRV. I'd obviously want to get rid of it ASAP, but even after the plant is destroyed is it possible that the mites are still in my garden? What can I do to make sure the mites are completely eliminated before I plant another rose?

  • witchygirrl6bwv
    4 years ago

    erasmus you have a good point, and I've read threads where people have tried. There have been people next door to it, that begged the people next door to remove infected roses. Those people refused. I would go crazy I think, if I had to watch it blow in my yard every day. I don't remember the thread, but I do remember being horrified. They probably infected a whole town knowingly. That's the worst part. When I first found out about it, I bagged and burned. Yes burned. It's like the people that made lice swim in lice killer now, because they were too lazy to wash a pillowcase. I know a lice remedy after much research that makes a person toxic to them. I will not tell anyone but people that need to know, and wont abuse it. My kid caught resistant lice in 2nd grade years ago. I dropped one in the medicine, and watched it swim around. It never died. That never happened in the 80's and 90's. Wow now I'm all itchy. Sorry for the rant, but the thought of mites and critters freaks me out. I never want to see RRV or lice again in my lifetime. lol

  • Embothrium
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    The typical homeowner goes to their big box store

    Whenever this aspect is part of the equation then anywhere near full selections of any particular kind of plant - such as might be encountered at a large independent garden center - are not involved. Of course anyone who only shops box store plant departments is only going to be planting Knockout roses. And whatever other kinds of roses make it to these outlets, at any given time.

    In case this key aspect is somehow not mentioned at the above link the rose rosette disease making the rounds now is a hyper-virulent version created by a U.S. university, to remove Rosa multiflora from forest lands. It's a Frankenstein, an Africanized honey bee that is unnaturally troublesome.

  • functionthenlook
    4 years ago

    Can you use Permethrin on your roses? Of course not the flower because it will also kill bees. Bees usually only land on the flowers. It is harmless to animals and humans (except cats) when dry, only kills bugs that come in contact with it. It lasts 6 weeks. I use it to make tick tubes and to spray on the trunk of my trees to get the ticks crawling up the trees. Our state is #1 in Lyme disease. I personally don't spray it on plants because it kills all bugs, good and bad .

  • perennialfan275
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Gardengal, you said yourself in another thread that a simple milk spray applied once every 2 weeks or so can prevent blackspot (it can also prevent many other fungal diseases like powdery mildew). Along with a little bit of compost a couple times a year, if this is truly all it takes to grow healthy roses in the PNW I consider it a gardener's paradise.

  • erasmus_gw
    4 years ago

    perennialfan275 , I am not an expert on RRD but I do think it is possible some mites carrying the virus would remain in your garden after removing a plant. Some miticides kill rrd mites. I don't like using them but I have read that it can help to spray miticide every month. I don't do that. Dormant oil spray sprayed in winter might do some good. Maybe Ann in TN will comment, or you can see her e book.

    I had a neighbor with an infected rose. I gave him printed out info on RRD including pictures. He was nice as can be and said the plant is mine to do what I want with. So I sprayed it with Round Up brush killer, miticide, and hairspray. The hairspray was something I'd heard mentioned as one way to possibly immobilize mites. Then we cut down the plant, bagged it up, and dug out the roots. Then we had to follow up with digging out some more roots. I offered my neighbor any plant he wanted to replace it but he didn't want anything.

    I think asking nicely helps. I wouldn't assume that the owner of an infected plant doesn't give a hoot.

    I first had a plant with RRD about 16 years ago. Since that time I've lost more plants but not a lot. I haven't counted them up but it's somewhere under 20. It probably averages out to about one a year. That's bad, but not so horrible that it's worth getting depressed about it. It hasn't spread like wildfire ( yet), and it hasn't spread to adjacent roses. What worries me most is the untended mass plantings of Knockout in the area. It is ridiculous to be fatalistic about that and just sigh and say how awful it is. Should do something, like contact the town or business.

  • Buford_NE_GA_7A
    4 years ago

    I was at a rose convention recently and one of the discussions was on rose breeding. The speaker said that Will Ratler's notes on KO were 'great disease resistance, bloom unremarkable'. Says it all.


  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Someone else in Northern Ohio was growing gorgeous double pink knockouts as a foundation and since seeing them I've changed my mind a bit. Of course, they have no fragrance so they probably won't be in my garden anytime soon.

  • perennialfan275
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    What is it with Utah and roses? Every time someone from that state posts a picture of their roses they look amazing. And I love the delphinium poking through the fence (would look even better if the fence wasn't hiding it though). Beautiful combination.

  • rosecanadian
    4 years ago

    Reesepbuttercup - that is very lovely!!! Wow!

    Carol

  • erasmus_gw
    4 years ago

    Summersmorning has a beautiful garden full of interesting plants and has some Knockouts planted among them. It looks great. She is in a cold zone so they must be pretty hardy...another plus.

    Here's Carefree Sunshine, yellow Knockout. Does pretty well in part shade, has a nearly wild look.

  • diane_nj 6b/7a
    4 years ago

    Sunny Knock Out (RADsunny) is the yellow Knock Out. Carefree Sunshine (RADsun) was also hybridized by Will Radler.

  • Roses In Clay Ohio
    last year

    I also wondered this, but I'm guessing it's because it's a landscape hedge rose with a nice shape that you can ignore - AND it self cleans so you don't have to deadhead the wilted petals. You need more of the same rose bushes for landscaping, so they sell more. And when demand is up, stock is up, and people buy them.

    Rose bushes for bouquets aren't attractive for landscaping because the shape is unwieldy, the roses get cut off for bouquets, and roses that are left end up becoming a wilted, brown mess. The shape and size are all different.

    A lot of people care more about what their yard looks like, than making bouquets. And of course that's all shopping mall centers care about, in fact they DON'T want people cutting off the roses to make bouquets. Even if you do both, you need more of the landscape rose for mass plantings. So people buy more, and stores buy more..