Rose Cuttings – April, 2012

KnockOut™ roses have become superstars thanks to prolific blooms and disease resistance. Photo courtesy of Mike Shoup.

What Is a Perfect Rose?

What is a perfect rose? According to our customers at the Antique Rose Emporium, it is one that blooms all the time with strongly scented, multi-petaled, brightly colored flowers on a bush that never shows any sign of disease. These characteristics are always the most requested. Other qualities demanded less often are shade tolerance, colorful hips, fall color, show quality or garden use. The wish list goes on and on.

It is easy to see that meeting all demands is an impossible task for the breeder. Many roses have qualities that make them useful to the gardener, but they rarely have all of the most important traits, much less some of the minor attributes. Even KnockOut™ roses, which have taken over as the landscape staple, don’t have much fragrance, nor do they exhibit exceptional flower form. KnockOut™ flowers a lot and is very disease resistant, and these qualities are enough to make it a superstar.
Crossing roses in an effort to bring out these major qualities is not an easy task. Breeding two fragrant roses doesn’t insure that the progeny will be fragrant. When you do happen to get a strong fragrance, then the rose is often not disease-resistant, or doesn’t bloom often enough, or doesn’t have pretty flowers. Getting all these important qualities to match up in a single rose is mathematically like hitting the Lotto jackpot. There are just too many variables.
Ironically, it is this realization — that roses are not all perfect — that gives them their charm. All have strengths and weaknesses, diverse as you and I. But therein lies their attractiveness. It is ultimately the relationship between you, the gardener, and the roses that you have come to grow and love — despite their weaknesses — that really matters.

About the author: Mike Shoup is the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium. Visit his company’s Brenham and San Antonio display gardens for endless ideas on landscaping with roses. To order roses online, visit

Posted by Mike Shoup
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