Drift roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniatures. From the former they kept toughness, disease resistance and winter hardiness. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature. The low, spreading habit of Drift roses makes them perfect for small gardens and combination planters.
The first colors available in the Drift series were coral, pink, red and peach — all these varieties have been evaluated in LSU AgCenter plantings at the Hammond Research Station and Burden Center since 2009.
Pink has been the best landscape performer, followed by peach, coral and red. The newest colors released are apricot (double apricot blooms), sweet (clear, pink double blooms) and icy (pure white, double blooms).
These seven varieties bloom from spring to early frost. Ranging from scarlet red to bright soft peach, they provide a complete range of color solutions for landscape use or in containers.
We find that Drift roses have about five flower cycles yearly. The spring bloom in April and the fall bloom in October, like with most other roses, are the peak times for best performance. The late-spring-to-early-summer second bloom is also impressive.
Plant Drift roses in a well-prepared landscape bed. Fall is a great time to plant. Space individual plants a minimum of 3 feet apart. It would be best to plant them 4-5 feet apart if you are thinking long term. The soil pH for roses needs to be between 6.0-6.5.
As with other roses, plant Drift roses in a location that gets full sun. Eight hours of sunlight daily is recommended. These ground-hugging, ever-blooming shrubs are perfect as a border or bedding plant.
Drift roses should be fertilized in spring with a good dose of slow-release or timed fertilizer, which releases nutrients to the plant when it needs it most, and you’re set for the season. Another application in late summer would help plants bloom better into the fall, especially in new landscape beds where nutrients may be lacking.
Mulch is very important for roses. Mulching helps to buffer the cycle from wet to dry, keeps the feeder roots from drying out and helps to establish the roots more quickly. And you water less.
Make no mistake; these are not finicky miniature roses. These hardy groundcover roses are true, low-spreading, dwarf shrub roses that grow only 2-3 feet tall by 2-3 feet wide and are covered with blooms that open to 1½ inches. Drift roses are perfect in small gardens, splashing your landscapes with visual delight.
Appealing to today’s busy gardener, these low-maintenance roses are highly disease-resistant. They require no spraying. Blackspot disease has been very minimal on plants grown in Louisiana. Bed preparation, irrigation and proper fertilization management are the keys to success.
This fall try planting some of the new Drift series roses in your landscape. They combine wonderfully with flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and more.
Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.