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.


  1. The Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell looks absolutely stunning. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Oh my gosh, ‘Baronne Prevost’ is to die for! The color and texture is enchanting! We have the extremes here, too–just adjusted colder about -20 at the extreme. We had the “Oklahoma heat” this past summer–breaking 100 for many days in July and August. Normally our summer highs are in the 80s and 90s. Sometimes I wish I lived in San Diego–or another place where the temperature doesn’t change so much. Great post!

  3. I love Rugosa roses, Hansa is my favorite. Its fragrance is carried on the breeze for a good distance. I have one David Austin – ‘Janet’, in my family bed, pretty blooms, not very problematic with black spot, wish it wasn’t rambler….lots of pruning back.
    You know OK is cold in the winter cuz there isn’t anything but barbed wire between you and Canada. haha.
    When we lived in TX I had the prettiest roses, all hybrids I think. They didn’t survive more than a couple years, I never have been one to spray or dust or baby roses. oh well.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Janet, I love ‘Hansa’ too. It’s so hardy I have it in a container on my back deck. It does smell so good. I’ve never grown ‘Janet’, but I may need to try. Nothing stops that Oklahoma wind Janet. That’s for sure.

  4. Patty Lee says:

    Dee, thank you for the great suggestions. I love my Carefree Beauty rose – I’m contemplating planting “Hi, Neighbor” near her this spring. Here in southern Oklahoma, my favorite rose this year has been Easy Does It. Such a pretty coral color, and it never stopped blooming.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Patty, I love ‘Hi Neighbor,’ but sadly, I lost it one super-cold winter. I also have grown ‘Easy Does It,’ but I think mine wasn’t a very good shrub. You know how sometimes you’ll get a lemon? My shrub was definitely a lemon.

  5. Chris Casteel says:

    Thank you for kindly sharing info with other ‘Rosies’. I live in Zone 9B and have had ridiculous success with the following:

    Mrs. B.R. Cant: I have trained mine into a climber and it never fails to take my breath away-yet you never see it mentioned. Run, don’t walk, to get your hands on this stunning deep pink cabbage rose with a light scent.

    Belinda’s Dream: what a stunning rose! Lots of blooms from spring to early Winter…large shrub rose in true-pink.

    Don Juan: climbing rose with deep crimson blossoms that are so perfect, they don’t look real.

    Philipe-Louis: absolutely no problems with the continual blooming shrub rose with delicate red blossoms.

    These are tried and true roses for the humid South. The only problems I’ve seen is light black spot that is easily controlled by just removing leaves.

    Hope this helps!!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Chris, thank you for sharing your favorites. I so appreciate it. I have grown all of these, and ‘Belinda’s Dream’ is a dream if she’s in full sun. ‘Mrs B.R. Cant’ was wonderful too. I think it finally succumbed one winter, but I’m willing to give it another try. ‘Don Juan’ had too much blackspot, but mine was on a diseased rootstock too so that may have slowed down its vigor. But, what a gorgeous red. ‘Philipe-Louis’ I’ve never grown. I should try. Thanks again!

  6. gail says:

    Dee, When I read about your roses I remember how very much I love their scent and velvety petals! I am hoping the native Carolina rose I planted finally settles in, but, if not I might have to try Rosa ‘Baronne Prevost’…I have Oso Easy ‘Cherry Pie’ and it survived a dry, dry, dry summer! gail

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Gail, I hope it does too. Let me know if it does.

  7. Carefree Beauty is a great rose d does well here in north Mississippi. It gets some blackspot but then all roses get blackspot here. It takes me six gallons of spray every two weeks, but then I have about 300 roses. Souvenier de la malmaison is a fav, lady banks, new dawn, jude the obscure, graham thomas, abraham darby, any old garden roses. Jude the Obscure is my fav David Austin rose. I grow some hybrid teas, but th are on fortuniana rootstock ch is a great rootstock. I am trying my hand at grafting now and will let you know about that later. I also have the Peggy Martin(Katrina) rose and if you would like a few cuttings to root send me your mailing address at

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Tim, you grow so many roses you put me to shame. I only have ninety or so–chuckle. I’ve never tried ‘Jude the Obscure,’ but I love the name.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Jude the Obscure is supposed to be the most fragrant David Austin rose

        1. Dee Nash says:

          Good to know. Thanks.

  8. Rose says:

    Thanks for a great list, Dee! I love roses (who doesn’t?), but I’ve always been afraid to try anything more needy than the Knockout roses. After reading your review of ‘Darcey Bussell’, I might just get a little more adventurous. I wonder how it does with really cold winters.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Rose, ‘Darcey Bussell’ will get some blackspot, but she seems to recover well. If you plant her in full sun, she’ll have a better chance. I planted her along the east side of the garage to give her winter protection.

  9. Frances says:

    Wonderful list, Dee! I want to mention something about Valentine which we grew in the communal mailbox area in the subdivision in The Woodlands. We took up money from the neighbors and cleared, mulched and planted the island bed there. Valentine was the only rose, and the first year I noticed it had been mowed down to the ground and was upset. This bed had no irrigation, btw. I was told that was the way they handled roses, a yearly whacking. It regrew and was gorgeous!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Frances, that’s very interesting! I think I’ll whack it to a foot to see if it recovers. Some roses love that harsh treatment, and I’ve got nothing to lose. Thanks.

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I will try to find this red rose. It is pretty and I like that it does well in lower light. I have three pink carpet roses (remember when they were popular?) that have terrible conditions and they all bloom and live. They are at least 18 years old. Amazing to me.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, I do remember those Flower Carpet roses. I never had any luck with them or ‘Bonica,’ but I knew lots of people who did. I think ‘Baronne Prevost’ must be at least eighteen too. It is a wonder in a garden full of the ghosts of former roses.

  11. Thank you for this list! Sounds like our weather is very similar to yours and if I’m going to grow roses, they better be tough.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hey Brenda, if we have similar weather: hell in summer and freezing mid-winter, then I say go for it. I have lots of other roses which are worthy too, and I’ll be posting about those soon. Thanks for visiting.

  12. My rose foliage always looks a lot more bug-eaten than that. I don’t spray, either.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Kathy, that foliage only appears that good in early spring like April and May. 🙂

  13. Lynn Hunt says:

    Must agree with you about Darcey. She is in bloom for me from early May till December. Carefree Beauty was a seed parent of Knock Out. Not so excited about the OSO roses. But then I tend to stick with the more prissy Austins.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lynn, I love those Austins too. They just don’t love it here so much. I do dig ‘Graham Thomas’ an oldie, but a goodie. Also, I’m starting to like ‘Molineux’too.

  14. Such vibrant and lovely roses…I have wondered about the OSO roses…I may just give them a try now!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Donna, those OSO Easy roses are pretty bullet proof. Paprika has been the best of the bunch for me. I have it growing with other orange plants.

Comments are closed.