The Knock-Out roses are over a year old and are performing beautifully. I haven't blogged about them yet this year, because the front yard has not been the most photogenic area this Summer. We suffered through an awful drought in May that left the grass brown and patchy, and now our weed wacker is broken, so the yard is quite disheveled. However, since this blog is my personal gardening diary, I need to document the Knock-Out roses regardless of how ugly the yard looks.
The roses in the left bed are performing a little better than the roses in the right bed. Although the frost did severely injure Francisco (3rd from the right), he is recovering like a champ. He had to be cut down almost completely to the ground after our late April frost, because most of his branches were mortally wounded.
We decided to plant the caladiums again this year to add some excitement to the rose beds. I like the texture and color variations they add. They did not grow as large as last year, but these are not the same bulbs from last year, so perhaps they aren't as vigorous. Although we did dig the bulbs from last year for Winter storage, they were stricken with mold and had to be burned. It was sad, because it took us hours to dig them all up!
I photographed the right bed in two shots so I didn't get much of the grass in the picture. This is the far right side of the right bed. The Graham Blandy upright boxwoods are looking great! I love them mixed with the roses - so English cottage garden-like.
The left side of the right bed has not done as well as the rest of the roses. They are having trouble growing vertically for some reason and want to spread out horizontally. I have tried to explain to them that this is wrong, but they are persistant! I'm sure they will even out eventually.
I am still using Miracle Grow for Roses on them every other week, but I have not had to water them as much as I did last year. Sometimes I don't water them at all aside from the fertilizer application, and they are doing just fine. Now that they are well-established, the roots are reaching deeper into the ground, so they aren't relying on getting their water from the topsoil that dries out much quicker than the subsoil.
We have had an awful problem with Japanese beetles this year. I so hate those little things! I have sprayed and placed beetle bags around the area, but they are still eating away at my roses.
This is the view from the front door. It's my favorite view of the roses.
For anyone considering Knock-Out roses, I want to share with you my experience, because I feel people have some misconceptions about these shrubs as being completely worry-free. I purchased these roses as very small plants - they were only 6 inches to 12 inches tall. They have performed absolutely wonderfully, but it was not by accident. The secret was good soil preparation and careful nurturing of the young plants.
Before planting, we used the double digging method in both beds. This is time consuming and labor intensive, but necessary for extraordinary results. We added peat, manure and loads of phosphorous to the soil. Phosphorous is very important for forming a good root system, and roses love it.
Once planted, I watered the plants at least twice a week and used Miracle Grow for roses every week for the first growing season. I did have to spray for aphids that threatened to kill the young plants several times during the year.
You may have read about how hardy these roses are, and they are ... for roses. But they are still roses. They still need a lot of water and fertilizer. Roses are greedy feeders! They are still susceptible to powdery mildew, black spot and pests. Regardless of what you read, you will still have to spray them and nurture them to some degree if you want them to thrive. If you don't care about them thriving, I'm sure you can just pop them in any hole and let them go, but if you want the results I have seen, they will need a lot of care and water.