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Shrub roses are one of the most reliable and popular roses available. They are long blooming, low maintenance, feature good resistance to disease, and come in many colors. The Knock Out® series and the Carefree™ series withstand the hot, humid summers and cold winters of the Midwest.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Occasional drought
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, Red
  • Shape or form Irregular, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size & Form: 

Rounded to irregular form. Carefree™ roses reach 4 to 5 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide, while the Knock Out® series reach 3 to 4 feet high and wide. Flower Carpet® roses are generally smaller in stature, between 18 inches and 3 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Shrub roses are of hybrid origin. 

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Alternate, compound leaves emerge purplish-red, turn to dark green in summer, then turn purplish-burgundy in fall. Leaves are semi-glossy with slightly serrated margins.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Multiple colors are available from red to pink to yellow, white and coral. Knock Out® roses produce lightly fragrant flushes of blooms every five to six weeks from late spring to the first hard frost. Carefree™ roses are long blooming and fragrant. Flowers can be single or double depending upon cultivar. Self-cleaning, flowers fall off once they fade. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Rose hips can be red to orange and usually develop late fall if plants are left unpruned to encourage dormancy.

Plant care:

Best in full sun with at least six hours for maximum flowering, shrub roses will tolerate part shade with reduced flowers. They require well-drained soil. Grown on their own roots, they should be planted at the same level they are in the pot, or slightly deeper. Drought tolerant once established. Prune lightly in early spring to remove dead canes, shape the plant, and promote new growth. Site plants in areas with good air circulation to prevent diseases. Shrub roses do not require winter protection.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Powdery mildew in wet weather. Rose slug sawfly, Japanese beetles, and plume moth are occasionally problems. Resistant to black spot.

Many types of shrub roses have been developed.  The following are a few of the most common.

 Knock Out® series

  • Knock Out® (Rosa ‘Radrazz’):  Continuous blooms of large clusters of semi-double, deep cherry-red flowers. Flowers have a light rose scent. Bright orange-red hip in fall. Glossy leaves are burgundy-tinged, turning deep green. Black spot resistant.
  • Blushing Knock Out ® (Rosa ‘Radyod’): A cluster of light pink, single flowers. Bloom color starts out light pink fading to soft pink.
  • Double Knock Out® (Rosa ‘Radko’):  A double-flowering, cherry-red flowering sport of original Knock Out.
  • Pink Knock Out® (Rosa ‘Radcon’):  A double-flowering cultivar, with medium pink flowers in cool weather turning light pink in warmer weather. Good resistance to black spot.
  • Rainbow Knock Out® (Rosa ‘Radcor’): A deep, coral pink with yellow centers that do not produce a fragrance.
  • Sunny Knock Out® (Rosa ‘Radsunny’): A more upright, compact habit. Bright yellow flowers fade to pastel cream color. Yellow color will be more intense in cool weather.

Carefree ™ series

  • Carefree Beauty™ (Rosa ‘Beubi’): Forms an open habit, 3 to 4 feet high and wide, with semi-double, fragrant pink flowers and thick glossy green leaves with good resistance to black spot and mildew.
  • Carefree Celebration™ (Rosa ‘Radral’): Oval to rounded 4 to 5 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide, this cultivar has beautiful coral orange flowers.
  • Carefree Sunshine™ (Rosa ‘MEIpitac’):  Clear yellow, fragrant flowers form on shrubs 4 to 5 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.

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