Five beautiful, easy-to-grow roses for Oklahoma and the central south

Oklahoma gardening is complicated. The climate is classified as part of the central south, USDA Zones 6a to 8a, but anyone who lives here would tell you there’s much more to the story. We are hills and plains, forested and bare. The sun scalds our land in summer, yet we have cold stretches in winter that try our souls.There are times I wish Oklahoma was the true south, all magnolias, camellias and mint juleps sipped upon the front porch. Then, I consider the high cost of all that humidity for my hair and rose foliage. Other times, I wish I lived near my friend, Layanee, so I could walk with her along a wintry path. I’d have snow cover to support rose roots to alleviate the heaving that surely comes every winter during our freeze/thaw cycles, but, then I shiver thinking about how cold it is.

Rosa 'White Meidiland,' a shrub rose from France, that is extremely easy to grow. It has arching canes that would respond well to the practice of pegging. Taken October 10, 2012
Rosa ‘White Meidiland,’ a shrub rose from France, that is extremely easy to grow. It has arching canes that would respond well to the practice of pegging. Taken October 10, 2012

At least we aren’t so cold from late October through December. We get most freezing termpatures in January, February and March once the sun retreats ever further into his lofty sky.

Our biggest enemy is summer heat. I’ve written extensively about heat, and how it compromises roses and rose blooms. Even with all of these challenges, there are still roses you can successfully grow here, and in April, May and June, they bring a certain magic to the landscape no other plant can.

My requirements to dig any hole for a rose in my garden are:

  1. Robust growth. No sissy roses get to live in the rural countryside. I gave up on Hybrid Teas a long time ago.
  2. Excellent disease resistance. I don’t spray.
  3. Hardiness for both cold and heat.
  4. Beautiful and bountiful flowers. What good is a rose if it rarely blooms?
  5. Scent. This is really icing on the rose cake, but it’s good icing.
Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell,’ one of the best David Austin, English roses out there hands down.

With those requirements in mind, here are my five top picks:

  1. Rosa‘Carefree Beauty’ I write regularly about this pink rose. It reminds me of a clear-eyed maiden. It never needs spraying and is rock solid. I wish I had more places to grow it. It is sweetly scented.

    At the center is 'Carefree Beauty' and the light pink to her left is 'Cl. Souvenir de la Malmaison.' Souvenir was a terrible rose for years, but suddenly in the last three, she has hit her stride. She is also one of my oldest roses in the garden. By contrast 'Carefree Beauty' is only ten or so.
    At the center is ‘Carefree Beauty’ and the light pink to her left is ‘Cl. Souvenir de la Malmaison.’ Souvenir was a terrible rose for years, but suddenly in the last three, she has hit her stride. She is also one of my oldest roses in the garden. By contrast ‘Carefree Beauty’ is only ten or so.
  2. R. ‘Meicoublan,’ sold in the U.S. as White Meidiland. It is a shrub rose that blooms bright white and is difficult to photograph, but very beautiful in person. I haven’t noticed any scent. The arching canes are quite wonderful and would make it great for the practice of pegging.
  3. R. ‘Darcey Bussell’ It’s difficult to find decent, disease-resistant red roses. I love ‘Sombruil’ and ‘Valentine,’ but both are plagued by blackspot. Darcey, however, is an English rose with some great genes. She grows in a lousy place on the east side of my house where she needs more sunshine, and while she gets some blackspot, she isn’t covered in the stuff. I’ve written more about David Austin roses for the south here.

    Rosa ‘Baronne Prevost,’ a classic Hybrid Perpetual
  4. R. ‘Baronne Prevost,’ a Hybrid Perpetual and thus an antique, is a survivor in the truest sense. It has graced my garden in this spot for over fifteen years. I planted it at the same time as many other roses in my original garden, and it is the only one left. Still, you say, it gets blackspot, and yes, you’re right. It does, but is not overcome by the disease. It also has complicated and beautiful blooms with a true rose scent.
  5. R. OSO Easy® Paprika is another rose that is super easy to grow. It’s a Proven Winners® plant, and while I do write for Proven Winners®, I liked this rose long before. The entire OSO Easy® line are very disease resistant.

    Oso Easy® Paprika rose
    Oso Easy® Paprika rose

Now, I’ve shared five of my favorites. There are so many more which are worthy. Which roses not only cheer your heart and garden, but also don’t need much extra care? I’d love to hear what works where you live.