Plant Spotlight: Groundcover Shrub Rose

Groundcover roses are tough, low-growing shrub roses that have a spreading habit of reaching 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. They are well-suited to plant below larger shrubs and in the garden as a beautiful flowering, easy-to-grow groundcover for sunny situations. They typically have dense habits, disease resistant foliage, and continual bloom throughout the growing season. Colors range from red, white, pink, lavender, yellow, orange, and multi-color flowers.

Groundcover roses can provide a grass substitute solution when planted en masse in difficult full sun locations. If planted densely, they function to help prevent erosion on hillsides as well as create color in large swaths across a landscape. Groundcover roses make lively window box or container plants to mix with flowering annuals or perennials because their spreading nature presents as a flower-filled trailing spiller. Many of the new hybrid groundcover roses can tolerate some drought as well, compounding their maintenance-free reputation.

When, Where, and How to Plant

Plant container or bare root plants in fall or spring in a site which has rich, organic soil that is well drained. Amend soil with rotted manure, compost, and worm castings to improve soil or raise beds if there is a lack of drainage.  Groundcover roses will tolerate some shade, but prefer 6 hours or more of full sun. Water the groundcover rose well upon planting and frequently throughout the first year to establish the plant.

Growing Tips

Mulch the soil with a 2-to-3-inch layer of compost or organic matter. Fertilize with organic rose fertilizer at planting time and in the spring or fall. While it is not necessary to deadhead most groundcover roses, it will improve the tidiness of the plant. Rake debris and old leaves out of the planting in the early spring. Cut the plants back by 2/3 annually in early spring in order to refresh and invigorate the plant. Keep the water off the foliage as that can encourage fungal issues. Prune out dead or diseased wood throughout the season as necessary.

Companion Planting and Design

Groundcover roses can be quite charming, but they can also be used for useful purposes such as planting in rocky areas or steep banks. Perfect as a filler in the perennial border, they also function quite nicely as edging plants for paths and driveways. Groundcover roses look quite elegant when planted as a border around a patio.

Try These

‘Popcorn Drift®’ is a yellow variety that fades to white, resembling buttered popcorn with 1 ½ inch flowers. ‘Oso Easy Fragrant Spreader Rose’ is a fragrant pink rose with a hardy nature. ‘Flower Carpet® white’ is a bright white variety with prolific flowers, extreme vigor, and some drought tolerance. ‘Fire Meidiland’ is a red, vigorous variety growing to 24” high. Oso Easy® Mango Salsa Rose requires no pruning, has attractive shades of red and mango flowers, and grows 2 to 3 feet tall.

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