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The Best Roses for the South


It is true that roses are struggling a lot here in the humid south. Powdery mildew and black spot are two of the most common fungal problems. There are some pesky insects too: aphids, loopers, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, saw blades, and thrips, to name a few. Deer and chipmunks are very fond of them too. When it comes to growing roses, it really is about meeting your expectations. Giant flowers with perfect petals, no holes in the leaves and a tall bud cannot be achieved without spraying – a lot. Many gardeners may not want to take this route.

There are a wide variety of roses that will thrive in our hot, humid, insect infested gardens. Antique roses (like those of our grandmothers) were grown in gardens before the cooperatives started wearing rose spray. Not only do these roses have better disease resistance; They also have beautiful flowers, a nice fragrance, and often a better natural shape than modern roses. However, many rose growers now choose roses for their performance rather than the size of their bud. That said, we have modern roses that have some of the hard rose characteristics that our ancestors loved. Choosing a rose that suits the situation and needs is often the best idea. Here you will find a selection of proven roses that thrive in our climate.

Antique roses that have proven themselves time and time again

‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ has top-heavy pink flowers. Photo: Michelle Gervais

‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ bourbon rose

R. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, Zones 6–9

The large, double flowers of this rose are pale pink and just gorgeous. Although you will see a black spot, the flowers are so beautiful that we think it is worth it. Regular fertilizer and plenty of sun are the best repellants for fungal leaf diseases.

Lamarque climbing rose‘Lamarque’ is a climbing rose with buttery yellow flowers. Photo: Shelley Powell

‘Lamarque’ climbing rose

R. ‘Lamarque’, Zones 7-9

This rose is a climber with beautiful, fluffy white flowers. The flowers are completely double, light white with a hint of yellow in the center and have a wonderfully sweet scent. The sticks are thin and delicate looking, but the rose itself is a very sturdy grower. It can get mold, but a little pruning and a little fertilizer will correct that.

Marie Pavie dwarf rose‘Marie Pavie’ is a dwarf rose that flowers abundantly. Photo: Shelley Powell

‘Marie Pavie’ dwarf polyantha rose

R. ‘Marie Pavie’, Zones 5-9

This rose really is the perfect shrub. It grows best in hot sun, tolerates drought, and blooms 10 months a year. It also has a sweet rose scent.

Modern roses bred for their toughness

Quietness Hybrid Tea Rose‘Quietness’ has beautiful orange-pink roses. Photo: Shelley Powell

Hybrid tea rose “calm”

R. ‘Rest’, zones 5–9

‘Quietness’ has large, double-flowered, pale pink roses that should smell like roses. This is a large shrub that grows well, flowers often, and is one of our favorites.

Julia Child Floribunda RoseFor a bright yellow rose, you can’t do better than Julia Child ™. Photo: Michelle Gervais

Julia Child ™ Floribunda Rose

R. ‘WEKvossutono’, zones 4-9

Yellow is a harsh color found in tough, powerful roses. This fragrant, double-flowered shrub is a beautiful light yellow and blooms profusely.

Belinda's dream rose‘Belinda’s Dream’ blooms with crayola pink flowers. Photo: Shelley Powell

‘Belinda’s dream’ rose

R. ‘Belinda’s Dream’, Zones 5–9

‘Belinda’s Dream’ has enormous, fragrant flowers. They are medium pink and completely double. This show stopper is also a steady bloomer.

Lafter Hybrid Tea Rose‘Lafter’ looks tropical with its pink flowers and deep yellow centers. Photo: Shelley Powell

‘Lafter’ hybrid tea rose

R. ‘Lafter’, zones 5-9

The orange, yellow and pink double flowers of ‘Lafter’ that bloom on rather long stems make this shrub a great cut rose. Its glossy dark green foliage makes it attractive even without flowers, though it blooms most of the time.

And a bonus for the feeling of guilt increased, which takes a lot of work but is worth it

Peace Hybrid Tea Rose“Peace” flowers will surprise you with a number of different colors. Photo: Michelle Gervais

Hybrid tea rose ‘Peace’

R. ‘Peace’, Zones 5–9

An early hybrid tea, this rose has apricot, yellow, and pink flowers. It smells lovely and grows large flowers on the end of tall stems. It is very susceptible to powdery mildew and black spots, so special care is required.

There are so many options for great roses in our region that every gardener should make room for at least one in their garden.

– Jason and Shelley Powell own and manage Petals from the Past, a garden center in Jemison, Alabama.

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Robert Dunfee