Flower Carpet Roses: You Can Grow That!

Centerpiece with multiple colors of roses
Image courtesy of Tesselaar USA.

Roses are such classic beauties in the garden and we all love the thousands of colors and flower types that hybridizers have to offer. Each seems unique and personal. And Flower Carpet roses are truly unique because they grow low like a groundcover.

Last February, we gave some of these amazing roses to three lucky readers of our blog –- courtesy of Tesselaar Plants. Tesselaar also has generously given all four of us bare root Flower Carpet roses to test in our gardens. So, we successfully planted and now grow these beauties in the deserts of the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas, the high desert/foothills of southeastern New Mexico and in Fort Worth, Texas.

Noelle Johnson’s Flower Carpet roses line a garden fence in her Phoenix area garden.

You can grow Flower Carpet Roses too. Here are a few tips:

Flower Carpet Roses in Your Landscape

I don’t know about you, but I like a few roses mixed into my mostly native, xeric landscape. Maybe it’s because roses remind me of my mother, or maybe I just love the look of those delicate flowers. The great thing about these low bushy roses is that they fit in with many of our Southwest landscapes. I grow mine in the front of our house under the guest room window.

My new bare root rose got a few blooms its first season.

Other uses for Flower Carpet roses are along walkways, median strips or curbs, and as borders or around the grass bordering your pool deck. You don’t have to worry about them making a mess. They also make excellent garden borders or groundcovers against your home’s foundation. The plants seldom reach above three feet tall and should bloom continuously from spring through fall. Try to choose a spot with well-drained soil and at least six hours of sun a day for full flowering.

Caring for Flower Carpet Roses

Plant Flower Carpet rose nearly any time of year except when the ground is frozen. These roses are drought tolerant once they have been in the ground about a year, but need more regular watering for the first year of their life. Be sure to water them thoroughly when you first plant them. You should fertilize the roses in early spring (or late winter, depending on your growing season) and late summer with about a handful or two of slow-release fertilizer around the ground under the plant. The plants perform well at tolerating some common rose diseases such as mildew, and they have few insect infestations. Plus, these roses are self-cleaning (so, no clipping off spent blooms to get more).

Noelle Johnson’s Flower Carpet roses line her rose garden in the Phoenix area.

Pruning Flower Carpet Roses

Flower Carpet roses grow quickly, but out more than up. The branches only die back in the coldest zones (zone 5 or lower). They require little pruning, just enough to invigorate growth each season. Prune off about one-third to two-thirds of the top of the plant to encourage dense growth. Prune any dead stems off to ground level. If you’re not sure whether a stem is dead, gently scratch the bark with your fingernail. If the stem still is alive, you will see a soft green color under that brown bark. Cut those live stems back one or two thirds of their height.

This Amber Flower Carpet rose blooms happily in Ann McCormick’s Fort Worth garden.

If you live in a more moderate climate, you might see leaves already growing at the base of your Flower Carpet Rose before you get outside to prune. That’s OK; go ahead and prune. You don’t have to worry about where you cut or the direction of your cut. Just use regular pruners to shorten the branches; you even can use a good pair of shears if you have a row of the roses to speed up the process.

Be sure to rake up any debris that has fallen around the base of the plant and replace the debris with a light layer of mulch. The mulch isn’t a necessity, but will help keep the ground around the plant cooler and moister.

Pecan bark mulch helps keep moisture in; the tacky fencing keeps deer from eating my young rose!
But this is a versatile plant. Noelle has gravel around her rose in her hotter low desert garden and it looks fantastic.

You should see good bushy growth about 5 weeks after pruning. There is a reason these roses have won more than 25 international awards. They’re that simple to grow and put up with dry conditions.

Try these easy-care groundcovers for a mix of classic rose with drought tolerance. The roses are available as bare roots or potted in a container. You should be able to find them in local nurseries and Big Box stores that sell plants. They come in shades of yellow, white, pink, red and amber.


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