Non-Perky Knock Out Roses

TheGardenLady received this concern from Cammi about her Knock Out Roses:

1. I live in middle of CT.
2. Soil is clay
3. I just planted knock out roses in mid to late May 2018
4. We added bone meal to soil and then planted bushes then, put weed mat and mulch over the Matt around each bush.
5. I just added Rose Tone fertilizer
6. Base of plant watered 5 minutes per day , twice per day. I put my finger in to make sure the soil around each Bush was moist.
7. Green parts look fine
8. Not blooming. The early flowers have almost disappeared
9. Old buds falling off
10. New buds look ok
11. I can send a photo if allowed
12. Overall, plants don’t look perky. Appear a bit wilted due to no flowering.

Concerning your roses –

Your location in the middle of CT is fine for roses but not having your address I am not sure if you are in Temperature Zone 5 or 6. Knock Out Roses say they are hardy to Zone 5 .

TheGardenLady’s Knock Out Roses are planted in clay soil that had been amended with compost when the roses were planted. I hope you have planted your roses in a sunny location. Most roses need at least 6 hours of sun, though Knock Out Roses will tolerate some partial shade.

TheGardenLady never adds anything to new roses when I plant them and nothing but water for that first year. I have read that adding bone meal to the soil does not help and may hurt the new plants. See here.

TheGardenLady and her gardening friends uses the Espoma products that is the Rose Tone Fertilizer brand I believe you used. Though TheGardenLady does not add any fertilizer to a new rose, if you followed the directions on the bag of Rose Tone, TheGardenLady is assured that Espoma knows what they are telling you to do. Still, they are in business, so whether that initial fertilizing is necessary or not, I do not know. What a gardener should do, before planting anything, is to have a soil test done of the soil where one is planting a new plant. If the soil test is done through your Master Gardener office or agricultural extension office, it should ask what you want to plant in the location and recommend if any amendments to the soil are necessary before you plant. This way you may save money and will know exactly what is needed.

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Double Knockout Roses

Rose Shy? Start With a Knock Out Rose

The rose is one of the most abundant garden bloomers, but also a bit intimidating to some inexperienced gardeners. Whether it’s the prolific blooms, childhood memories of mothers and grandmothers with perfect rose gardens, or the thorns, some gardeners sadly shy away from rose bushes.

Though fear of the rose is unfounded, starting with a Knockout Rose is a great way to gain confidence in successful rose gardening, or gardening in general, for that matter. The Knockout Roses have been bred to resist most diseases, grow and bloom with less watering and reward the gardener with less maintenance than most shrub roses. There’s a reason that Knock Outs became the best-selling series of roses in the United States in just over a dozen years.

History of Knockout Roses

Knockout Roses are the result of the lifetime efforts of Wisconsin breeder William Radler, who bought his first rose at age 9 years old. Radler introduced the first of the Knock Outs, the original red, in 2000. The rose was recognized that year as an All America Rose Selection winner. His 2007 Rainbow Knock Out also was chosen for the prestigious award. Radler crosses roses with one another, selects the best rose from the bunch, then crosses them again. As a result, he has produced shrub roses that are winter hardy despite their tolerance for less water. They’re also more resistant to disease than most shrub roses and can self-clean, which means gardeners don’t have to deadhead, or remove spent flowers during the summer to encourage further blooming.

In addition, Radler has bred some stunning beauties, including the Double Knockout Roses, which offer all the benefits of the series, but have larger, fuller blooms. All Knock Out Roses bloom every 5 to 6 weeks from early spring until fall’s first frost, with no deadheading.

Caring for Knockout Roses

Once you’ve planted your Knock Out Rose in a sunny spot and given it enough water to help the roots get established, sit back and enjoy the blooms. You can encourage better blooming with a dose of rose fertilizer after each blooming period from spring through summer. Just follow the fertilizer package directions. Other than that, you only need to prune Knock Out roses for shape every year in late winter or early spring just before the leaves begin to form if you want to control their size or shape. Look for dead, damaged and diseased canes.

As the shrub matures, you can cut older canes back by up to a third of their length to help keep the bush healthy. And prune a little heavier if you’ve planted several Knock Out Roses together to form a hedge. Your Knock Out Roses should be able to take heavy pruning, and there is no need to be a rose-pruning expert.

Although Knock Out Roses are bred to resist diseases, their leaves can turn slightly yellow or spot some when the weather is particularly hot, humid and wet. The good news is that the problem will pass as soon as the weather improves, so gardeners should not worry or feel they need to apply a fungicide. Keeping the rose pruned just enough so that air can circulate inside and around the shrub can help prevent the problem when muggy weather hits.

Aptly Named

The Knock Out Rose series is aptly named mostly for the long-lasting color Radler has achieved in his breeding. The Sunny Knock Out Rose also produces sweet fragrance in its bright yellow blooms. But the shrubs’ hardiness in zones 5 through 10, along with overall toughness in various weather conditions, have made the Knock Out Roses wildly popular in the United States and around the world.

Knock Outs are a perfect, long-blooming addition to any rose garden, but they’re almost too beautiful to be mixed in among their own kind. The beginning gardener or new homeowner can choose Knock Out Rose shrubs and trees as the centerpiece of a landscape to serve as colorful hedges or specimen plants along sunny walls. Select a low-lying evergreen shrub to plant near the Knock Out Rose for year-round green in your garden, and a few low-growing ornamentals to complement the stunning color or the rose’s blooms above. Verbena, dianthus, or a sedum groundcover often look terrific under specimen Knock Out roses.

Winterizing Roses

Winter is coming to some parts of the US while some parts have already had snow. What should we do to winterize our roses?

Not all roses need serious winter rose care. Roses classified as old garden roses are extremely tolerant of cold temperatures and those who have Knockout roses and/or live in zones 5 through 11 don’t need to take any extra steps to care for these roses in winter.

You should winterize roses after the first hard frost but before that first snow. After the ground freezes put a thick layer of mulch around the base, but not up against the canes. The mulch keeps the ground temperature even and prevents the roots from heaving. Heaving happens when the ground goes through multiple freezes and thaws.

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Roses in TheGardenLady’s Garden


This has been a spectacular year for roses. And the roses in my garden are show pieces. These are photos of a few of the showiest roses in bloom right now. I did not take pictures of the miniature roses I have that are filled with flowers and my Fairy rose is still filled with buds. (see here)


My favorite rose is Livin’ Easy an orange – apricot Floribunda rose that has rewarded me each year covered with gorgeous flowers. Next to this rose are two Knock Out Shrub roses that also reward me with prolific flowering. And, very important to me, none of these three roses are difficult to care for and none have had black spot or any other diseases. They do attract Japanese beetles, but seem to have their main show of blooms before the Japanese beetles come out to dine.

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Protecting Knock Out Roses

Knock Out Roses by hozn

TheGardenLady received this question from Sharon.

I live in Southern, MA. My knockout roses became overgrown this year so I cut them way back today. Do I need to protect them since they are cut down to about 1 ft high?

Spring is the time to prune your shrub roses- they say to prune when the forsythia is in bloom. The best time for rose pruning in your area should be in March after there are no more snow storms.

But you already did the pruning, so let us be optimistic. TheGardenLady believes that plants want to live. So let us hope no damage is done. TheGardenLady would protect these pruned roses as described in the post on Nov. 6th. And review the article on Nov. 28th, 2007 about winter care for Knock Out Roses.

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People Enjoy Roses in TheGardenLady’s Garden

For you… by VinothChandar

TheGardenLady wants to continue to write about some of the flowers in her garden that make people  stop and ooh and aah.  Today she will talk about roses.

There’s a reason why roses are the most popular flower in the world. Even Shakespeare immortalized the rose by writing “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

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More Questions about Knock Out Roses

Knock Out Roses by hozn

TheGardenLady received this question from Mary Jane about a problem she was having with her knock out roses.

I planted eight knock out roses in the sun last year and they bloomed. After blooming the first year I put mulch on the base of the rose bush and the ground was not frozen. This spring I cut them back slightly the first bloom was great. We went on vacation and had a bad rain storm and the roses stopped. What am I doing wrong.

Here is an answer to your question from the experts:

Knock Out® roses will go through a blooming cycle. In the northeast they typically come into their first flush of flowering around Memorial Day weekend. They may not bloom as much for a few weeks, but will then flush another round of flowers in two to three weeks. The can be in bloom all the way up until Thanksgiving depending on the weather.

Two Knock Out Rose Problems

Sawfly by Mean and Pinchy

TheGardenLady received two questions from two people who were having problems with knock out roses.  Here is the first question.

I am very upset with my knock out roses. They have small green worms covering the leafs and eating holes in them. They also get on the perennial hibiscus. Is there anything I can use to get rid of the pest without using pesticides.

Here is an answer to this problem from the Knock Out Rose people:

Sounds like Rose slug or sawfly – they usually hang out on the underside of the foliage. You may want to try hand picking them off as you see them or try spraying a horticultural oil or a soap and water solution to suffocate the worms.

Here is the second question.

This is the second year for my roses. I have just had a few blooms to open but I have noticeable problems with them. Most of the leaves have very small holes and it seems like the blooms are smaller and ligher in color than last year’s. The leave problem is also on my older roses. I have treated them once with a spray of 1 tsp. each of baking soda, insecticical soap and horticultural oil in a qt. of water. I do not see any insects on either side of the leaves. Can you tell what the problem may be and how to help fix it?

Here is an answer to this problem from the Knock Out Rose people:

It sounds like your roses may be affected by rose slug or sawfly. The larvae is small and typically green in color (they usually hang out on the underside of the foliage; and are sometimes very hard to detect) They are usually a problem in early spring. It sounds like the treatment you are using is appropriate & it should work to help control the problem.


When to Prune Knock Out Roses

Rose pruning time by kaysare

TheGardenLady received this question from Keith.

I live in Bartlesille. When should I prune my Knock Out Roses?

TheGardenLady has been getting a number of questions about when to prune Knock Out Roses. First of all, if any rose has Dead, Diseased, Damaged, Spindly or Weak branches, these branches can be pruned at any time of the year.

The joy of having Knock Out Roses is that they are easy maintenance roses so you almost don’t have to prune them. In fact, you should not even bother to prune them the first year and during the second year they only need light pruning to shape them.

After that if you want to prune harder to promote healthy growth and encourage lots of flowers, prune your Knockout Rose in early spring after the last hard frost in your area. A hard frost is anything below 24 degrees. To check out your Hardiness Temperature Zone go to the Arbor Day Temp. Zone map and write in your zip code to find out the temperature zone you are in.  See here.

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Caring for Knockout Roses Down South

Raindrops on Double Pink Knock Out rose in November garden by pawightm

TheGardenLady received several questions about Knock Out roses.

Here’s a question from Dan about caring for Knock Out roses in the winter.

How do you care for Knock Out roses in the winter in Tallahassee, Florida. Can I put hay around and cover the up with trash can or do they need sun light in the winter? They got new buds on them now.  How do you keep them looking good for next summer?

According to Conard-Pyle, a company that specializes in Knock Out Roses, Knock Out® Roses shouldn’t need much protection at all in winter in the south. There is no need to cover them up with a trash can. They would benefit from a hard trim once every two to three years. They should be trimmed ½ to 1/3 of the way back just before they begin to leaf out – this would probably be around mid February in the Tallahassee region.

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