Rose Cuttings – October, 2007

Late fall is a special time for roses but unfortunately they rarely take center stage like they do in the spring. Here are my observations in the autumnal garden.

In November and December, floral displays of roses consist of muh larger flowers than those of the spring. For instance, ‘Belinda’s Dream’s’ flowers usually measure 3 or more inches across in the spring, whereas I have measured 5-inch flowers in the fall. Fall flowers are also more numerous because shrubs and climbers have grown through spring and summer and are, themselves, much larger, presenting a larger canopy for the floral display. As an example, our ‘Mutabilis’ rose that is 4 to 5 feet and beautiful in the spring, is now, after summer’s growth, 6 feet tall with even more flowers than we see in the spring.

Disease and insect pressures are rarely a concern late in the season, as they seem to wane with the decreasing foliage that plants experience as they enter dormancy. Roses may have black spot and mildew, but the leaves are falling off the plants anyway; shutting down for a brief winter’s rest. As they go dormant many exhibit a change in their leaf color.

Some roses are spectacular for their colorful fall foliage. ‘Caldwell Pink’ is a perfect example, boasting red leaves as colorful as our red oak and Chinese tallow trees, mixed with pumpkin-orange and a bit of yellow that’s as showy as the autumn colors of our Texas ash and cedar elm. The display looks as if the shrubs are on fire. Ironically, ‘Caldwell Pink’s’ pink blooms that represent her usual defining beauty are practically lost in this fabulous display. ‘Caldwell Pink’ roses are the “Christmas trees” of our garden, performing from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

So, if you want a rose with fall color, think ‘Caldwell Pink.’. Other fall foliage favorites include ‘Red Cascade,’ ‘Hansa,’ ‘Basye’s Purple Rose’ and ‘Seafoam.’ Don’t forget ‘Carefree Beauty,’ ‘Bayse’s Blueberry’ and ‘Roemer’s Hip Happy’ for their colorful hips during the drab winter months. Fall can bring out qualities in your roses that go beyond just their pretty flowers.

About the author: Mike Shoup is owner of The Antique Rose Emporium , a Texas nursery dedicated to the reintroduction of old garden roses.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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