Drift roses are a cross between full-size ground-cover roses and miniature roses. From the former they kept toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature. The low, spreading habit of Drift roses makes them perfect for small gardens and combination planters.
Colors in the Drift roses include pink, coral, red, peach, apricot (double blooms), sweet (clearer pink double blooms) and the new popcorn (whitish yellow). All of these seven varieties bloom from spring to early frost. Ranging from scarlet red to bright soft peach, they provide the gardener with a complete range of color solutions for landscape use or in containers.
We find that Drift roses have about five flower cycles a year. The spring bloom in April and the fall bloom in October, as with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance. The late-spring-to-early-summer second bloom is also impressive.
Fall is a great time to plant Drift roses. Be sure to put them in a well-prepared bed, and space individual plants a minimum of 3 feet apart. It would be best to plant them 4-5 feet apart if you are thinking long term. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0-6.5.
In future years after planting in the fall, fertilize Drift roses in the spring with a good dose of slow-release or timed fertilizer – which releases nutrients to the plant when it needs it most – and you're set for the season. Another fertilizer application in late summer would help plants bloom better into fall, especially in new landscape beds where nutrients may be lacking.
Mulch is important for roses. It helps buffer the cycle from wet to dry, keeps the feeder roots from drying out and helps to establish the roots quicker. And you water less.
These low-maintenance roses are highly disease resistant. They require no spraying. Blackspot disease has been very minimal on plants grown in Louisiana. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilization management are the keys to success.
Louisiana Super Plants for landscapes are designated every spring and fall by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Two additional Louisiana Super Plants will be named later this fall – a bedding plant in October and a tree in November.
Try these new Louisiana Super Plants – especially the new Drift roses – in your landscape. They combine wonderfully with flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and more.
Dr Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Center