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Walk into any flower shop and the first thing you see is likely to be bunches of roses. Look at any garden center or online nursery and you see rose bushes for sale. Yet in our gardens growing them remains an elusive goal, needing endless care and attention. Subject to pests and diseases, often producing just a few blooms before going into decline, they are among the most frustrating of plants – yet their popularity continues, because their beauty speaks to our hearts and their attachment to romance makes us long for a garden filled with them.
What to do? Fortunately. experienced plant breeders have seen our plight and come to our aid. There are literally thousands of different rose bush varieties, and more are created ever year. A few decades ago, when we began to realize the harm in chemical pesticides, breeders turned their focus away from a single-minded attention to exactly what the rose flower looked like, towards the plant itself. How resistant to disease was it? How long a period would it bloom? How much attention and pruning would it need?
As a result of this shift in attention, there are now great varieties out there that are way easier to grow, that take care of themselves, and that give us beautiful blooms and color for months, not weeks of the year.
It took a knowledgeable nursery to find the very best ones, and then organize them into a range of plants that gardeners could easily identify, immediately know would be worth growing, and that would be easy-care too. That is how the Oso Easy® range of roses was developed, and they give us an easy and helpful range of roses to choose from, that we will love, and that will love us back, asking little but giving lots – and then lots more.
The Oso Easy® Roses are a range of landscape roses, currently numbering twelve different varieties. A ‘landscape rose’ is a broad category of rose which has been created and selected to grow more like a regular garden shrub. Rather than the few tall stems, topped with a single flower, we see in the classic Hybrid Tea roses of florists, these are bushy plants, with lots of branches sprouting from their base. Because they don’t suffer from the common rose diseases, their lush green leaves stay right to the ground all season, just like a garden shrub will.
Continuous flowering is a feature of landscape roses. Because they have so many branches, and they keep growing all season, there are always new clusters of flower buds being formed. As a result, they produce a more-or-less continuous succession of blooms from early summer right into fall. Usually the petals just drop when the flowers are over, so unless you are right beside them you won’t even notice the finished flowers, which will quickly disappear beneath the new growth.
The leaves of the Oso Easy Roses are typical of rose bushes. Each leaf is divided into 3, 5 or 7 smaller leaflets, growing from a central leaf-stem. One leaflet tops the leaf, and the others are in pairs along that leaf-stem. The leaves are semi-glossy to glossy, often reddish when young, and rich green when mature. Some may turn clear yellow in fall, and others stay green right into the winter, until they drop before spring arrives. Some of the Oso Easy roses have typical thorny rose stems, while others have stems with very few thorns. If you have small children you may want to consider this feature, but most children learn very quickly about thorns, and don’t love the plants any less!
Because disease-resistance was a big goal in breeding these roses, they stay green and full of leaves all season – no more bare twigs by August. This is a big part of what makes them suitable for growing out in the landscape – they will hold their own and look great through all the seasons.
When it comes to size, most of the Oso Easy Roses are compact bushes between 2 and 4 feet tall and wide. Most of them are small enough to be used in smaller gardens and even in planters, but big enough to make a statement out in the wider garden. They can be grown as a single bush, but they are also great for group planting, as we do with other landscape shrubs. With their width you don’t need many to make a good-sized grouping, and you know they will look great out there. Some are real groundcovers, spreading 4 to 6 feet across, and remaining only a foot or two tall, and they are ideal for filling larger spaces.
The flowers of the Oso Easy Roses vary in size, form and color, but they always last right through from late spring into fall. One group of flowers follows another, as new growth sprouts from the stems, carrying more blooms. They are all carried in large clusters at the ends of the branches, and most are 2 to 3 inches across, with semi-double or double flowers. The form is more open and relaxed than in classic florists’ roses – a look much more suitable and appropriate in a garden landscape setting. A few have single flowers in bright colors, like wild-roses tamed for the garden. Colors cover all the bases – reds, pinks, yellows and creams, with orange and lilac too. A few have masses of tiny, single flowers, but every single one is simply gorgeous, and there is sure to be one (at least) that will fit into any garden style and color scheme. They all drop their petals naturally, as new flowers replace the old ones, so tedious deadheading isn’t needed. Some develop attractive rose-hips as the flowers finish, adding a touch of color to early winter.
The Oso Easy Roses have been designed for garden use, so think of them as landscape shrubs, and use them in the same way. Plant a single bush in a smaller bed of mixed shrubs, or group them in threes, fives or more to fill larger areas. Their continuous blooming means they bring far more color than most other shrubs, so use them with abandon, and really brighten your garden.
With their more compact size, these bushes are perfect for the front of beds, especially ones that meet hard surfaces, along paths, driveways and beside patios. They can be planted close to the front, and allowed to spill over, without needing trimming back. When you use them to front a bed on a lawn – and they will look fabulous – simply set them back a little further, at least half of their expected spread, so that there will be space in front for the lawn edging.
Banks, slopes and terracing are natural homes for the Oso Easy Roses. What better way to cover a slope than with flowers all summer long. Since pruning is minimal or not really needed on these plants, it won’t matter if they are a little inaccessible on a bank – they take care of themselves. On terraces they will soften those strong horizontal lines, and some will cascade a little, which is always a great effect.
Planter boxes are also ideal places to grow Oso Easy Roses. Because they bloom for so long, they can single-handedly give months of flowers, leaving you just to add some evergreens for winter interest and structure. Add a little garden soil (about 25% by volume) to the potting soil for planters, as roses like heavier soils, and of course make sure they have drainage holes in the bottom.
If you have struggled with rose growing in zone 4, the Oso Easy Roses are good news for you. Forget about all that winter protection, those cones and circles, and the messing filling and empty of them. These roses are completely hardy in zone 4, and they need no special protection at all. That’s right – no protection is needed to have them bounce back as the snow melts and then bloom away for months. They have also been tested in hotter areas, and with their excellent disease resistance the heat and humidity of the south-east has no effect – it just extends the blooming season even further into winter, and it starts earlier in spring too.
For the most flowers and the best growth, choose a sunny location for your bushes. That means at least 6 hours a day of direct sun, and sun all day is even better. Of course, that is during the growing season, so a spot shaded by the long shadows of winter could easily be sunny for the important months of the year.
The ideal soil will be well-drained, so not a place that sits wet and soggy for days after every rain. The type of soil (sand, loam, clay) is less important, although roses grow better in loam or clay soil, with a regular supply of water. Too dry a location will reduce flowering.
The night before planting, soak the pot thoroughly. Prepare the planting site by digging a broad spot for the roots to spread out into. Add rose fertilizer and rich organic material. Plant at the same depth as in the container, and water thoroughly after planting, and once or twice a week for the first few months, depending on the time of year.
Mulch in spring with compost or other rich organic materials, keeping it off the stems, but covering all the root zone, to conserve moisture, control weeds and slowly release nutrients. Use a blended rose fertilizer, as roses benefit from regular feeding. Water during dry spells. Deadheading is not needed, since the petals drop naturally as the flower finishes. Some varieties produce attractive rose hips, so leave the spend flower heads on those varieties, for great fall display. Spraying is not needed, as these roses are disease resistant, so care is simple, just like any other garden shrub.
Fussy pruning is not needed with these easy plants, and they can be left to grow naturally. Some optional spring care is helpful for neatness and vigorous growth. Remove any dead, damaged or very weak branches. Cut back the remaining stems by about one-third, cutting just above an outward-facing bud. After a few years, remove a few up the oldest stems low down, where new stems have sprouted. This will keep plants vigorous for many years.
|2 – 4||2 – 4||Big fully-double rich red blooms, like a classic rose that never stops flowering|
|2 – 3||2 – 3||Non-fading canary yellow flowers set against glossy, rich-green foliage|
|2 – 4||2 – 4||Coral flushed icing-pink large double flowers|
|1½ – 2½||1½ – 2½||Orange buds open to soft yellow with pink margins. Large double flowers|
|1½ – 2½||1½ – 2½||Miniature flowers and leaves. Masses of bubble-gum pink blooms|
|2 – 4||2 – 4||Cherry red single blooms hide the leaves|
|1 – 2||2 – 3||Single orange blooms on a low, spreading bush. Hardy in zone 3|
|1 – 2||5 – 6||Wide spreading with lavender single blooms. Hardy in zone 3|
|1 – 3||1 – 3||Masses of semi-double blooms in shades of pink. Ideal for group planting|
|2 – 3||2 – 3||Pale pink blooms turning to cream on a compact plant|
|1 – 3||2 – 3||Vibrant orange-pink blossoms busting with color on an arching bush|
|2½ – 3½||2½ – 3½||Brilliant pure-red open blooms with yellow centers|
The arrival of the Oso Easy Roses has made choosing and growing superb garden roses easy. You can rely on the name to give you hardiness, disease resistance and months of blooms. All you have left to do is choose the variety you want, considering its size and color, and you are set. It really is, “Oh, so easy!”