Rose Cuttings – May, 2012

Rosa ‘Mutabalis’ (butterfly rose). Photo by Neil Sperry.

Summer Let Down

As gardeners here in Texas, we are blessed with beautiful spring and fall blooms from our repeat-blooming roses. For that reason, many gardeners expect these roses to grow and perform just as well during the summer — but in reality, roses are not always the plant of choice for summer color.

Summer and Winter Dormancy
Obviously, roses go dormant in most of our Texas winters, when freezing temperatures stop the growth of roses as well as their bloom production. Less understood is the fact that roses also experience another dormancy-like phase during the summer. This summer dormancy is caused by many stressful factors, which in turn inhibit bloom production. Warm nighttime temperatures (greater than 80 degrees), as well as droughts and desiccating hot winds, will cause this stress. The flowers that do form may be half the ordinary size seen in the fall and spring and are certainly less impressive. Occasionally, cooling rain from thunderstorms or tropical systems spurs new growth on roses that results in an increase in bloom, but even these flowers pale in comparison to the spring or fall performances to which we are accustomed. In my opinion, tropical hibiscus, crape myrtle and daylilies are the “hot” choice for the summer gardener in quest of color.

A few roses that you can enjoy in the summer regardless of the heat are ‘Caldwell Pink’, ‘Mermaid’ and ‘KnockOut’. All seem to carry on with significant color and size that does not diminish even in July and August.

And if you happen to experience a cooler, wet period this summer, the Chinas and Teas can be the quickest to respond. ‘Old Blush’, ‘Mutabilis’ and ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ can surprise you with a mid-summer bouquet should this occur.

But ultimately, gardeners need to learn from the behavior of roses during our hot summers. Let’s wait for action until cooler weather, when we both can be at our best!

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
Back To Top