It’s not surprising that roses are the world’s most popular flower with new rose varieties being introduced each year, tempting us with new colors, prolific blooming, and lower maintenance requirements. Now is a great time to select roses for your garden as January through February is the best time to add roses to low to mid desert regions (zones 9 & 10) while it’s best to wait until spring for zones 8 and lower. I’m going to share with you my favorites that will thrive in the arid southwest with little fuss while adding welcome beauty to your garden.
In coming up with my list of favorites, I must admit to having a long-standing love affair with roses. Twenty-five years ago, I had more than 40 different hybrid tea roses in my Phoenix home where I learned through trial and error which ones did best in our hot, arid climate, and those that just couldn’t cut it. Today, I have a dedicated rose garden where I test new rose varieties for several rose growers to see how they fare with the intense dry heat of Arizona summers.
Hybrid tea roses are the most well-known modern rose variety and are famous for their large, upright blooms. If you only plant one rose, I highly recommend ‘Mister Lincoln,’ which has deep red blooms that are highly fragrant. It’s not fussy and grows 4 to 5 feet tall. Other notable hybrid tea varieties that do well in arid climates are ‘Bewitched,’ ‘Chicago Peace,’ ‘Pristine,’ ‘Rio Samba,’ and ‘Touch of Class’.
Shrub roses are a newer class of roses that have rapidly become my favorite due to their superior disease resistance, low maintenance, and beauty. They have a bushier, rounder shape than the more traditional V-shape of hybrid teas and don’t need to be deadheaded (pruning off old roses) as often as with other types. David Austin roses are a type of shrub rose that have the beauty and fragrance of old-fashioned roses. I have grown several kinds with ‘Olivia Rose’ being my absolute favorite, as its pale pink blooms appear throughout the year – even in the hot summer. ‘Abraham Darby,’ ‘Darcey Bussel,’ ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Juliette’ also do very well.
Groundcover roses grow 1 ½ to 2 feet tall, are very disease resistant and don’t require deadheading. I must admit to being somewhat new to growing ground cover roses. Last year, I was sent nine ‘Flower Carpet’ roses to try out, and they all did beautifully. In fact, they are still blooming this January, making this a class of roses that I am excited to use more.
While you can find numerous varieties of hybrid tea roses at your local nursery or big box store, shrub and groundcover roses are best ordered online from a rose grower. I buy mine from David Austin Roses and Heirloom Roses, both of which have a large variety available.
Whichever type of rose you choose, there is one that is just right for your garden! What types of roses do well in your Southwest garden?