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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Click here

Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, March 24, 2007

“Beautiful but Tough”

There are many old-fashioned roses that fit in a modern San Antonio landscape because they are attractive, pest-tolerant, and drought-tolerant. Quite often, however, the flowers they produce are not specimen quality, in that we would not think of them for cut flowers. Modern hybrid tea roses, however, produce specimen quality flowers, but require more tender loving care than most of us are willing to provide. How about roses that have both characteristics? Here is my list.

Katy Road is my favorite rose in the “tough plant, pretty flower” category. It is an antique rose that turned out to be a modern rose after DNA testing. The modern name is Carefree Beauty. It can be found under both names on the retail market. The rose is a shrub that grows to about six feet tall, and nearly as wide. The pink flowers begin as beautiful buds that open to a flat flower to four inches across with four layers of petals. Katy Road is unusual in that it forms a hip after the flowers fade.

Another tough modern rose in the same league as Katy Road is Belinda’s Dream. Belinda’s Dream bloom is lighter pink than Katy Road, but it is the most complex flower of all the tough roses. The buds are florist quality. Belinda’s Dream has a pleasant light fragrance and makes a good cut flower. It blooms for seven or eights months of the year. The plant reaches six feet tall, and is equally wide.

Mrs. Dudley Cross rose is an upright shrub that reaches five feet tall, and 3.5 feet in diameter. Its flower is peach yellow and is hybrid tea like in its compound layered structure. They make good cut flowers. Mrs. Dudley Cross blooms in the spring and fall for a total of about seven months every year. The plant is thornless.

This year, Dr. Jerry Parsons, and his Garden Volunteer helpers have introduced a yellow hybrid tea rose that has proven to be nearly as tough as the other roses in this article over several years of testing. The blooms are true yellow with florist quality buds. It is unique for a hybrid tea rose, in that, it is grown on its own rootstock. What it sacrifices in vigor through this feature, it makes up in survivability. The rose is Granny’s Yellow Rose. There are not a large number on the market yet, but like the other roses on the list, Granny’s can tolerate drought and live through fungus and insect attacks. It is the only “tough” rose with a cut flower quality yellow bloom.

There are other tough roses blooming now. Lady Banks rose has a small (half-dollar size) flower in white or pale yellow. Lady Banks rose only blooms for two to three weeks every spring, but if it is grown in full sun, the eight feet tall, 12 feet wide plant is completely covered by blooms during that period. Most plants are thornless. Use Lady Banks to provide an attractive large weeping shrub that has a brief but spectacular period of spring bloom.

The butterfly rose plant is almost as large as Lady Banks, but it is more upright and blooms almost year around if the winter is mild. Also called “mutabilis” this shrub rose carries three colors of flowers at any one time. The flat silver dollar size blooms start out peach become pink and finish as light crimson. Butterfly rose has thorns, but they are not savage thorns.

Martha Gonzales rose also has relatively benign thorns. They are enough to protect the plant from careless pets and children, but not enough to cause serious damage. The thorns and its modest size, three feet tall and three feet around make it ideal for the beds between sidewalks at the entrance to high traffic buildings. Martha Gonzales is as tough as they come and sports a large number of blood red half-dollar size blooms nine months of the year.

If red is your favorite rose color, consider another modern rose bred for toughness, the “Knockout.” Its silver dollar size, four petal layered blooms are carmen red. The plant reaches the same size as Belinda’s Dream, but seems to be a more open less dense shrub. The plant produces blooms six to seven months per year.

Consider these tough roses if you want roses without having to spray and irrigate every week. Now is a good time to plant them. They can be planted in native soil or raised beds. Mulch them with oak leaves and water them every two weeks this first summer and then every month in the summer after they are established.

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