How Important is Deadheading Knockout Roses?

The world of rose cultivation is experiencing an exciting new dawn; landscape roses are promoted as disease resistant and self cleaning, requiring no maintenance pruning. Horticultural specialists have developed new varieties of roses meant to resolve many of the traditional complaints and difficulties people have had with growing and maintaining more fragile rose varieties. Could it be true that the landscape roses, Knockout roses, require no deadheading?

Among the new landscape roses are the Knockout and Double Knockout roses, among the most popular rose varieties on the market today. They are also sold as self-cleaning roses, the easiest roses to grow!

The Knockout Rose was chosen as an All-America Rose Selection (AARS) Award Winner in 2000. The AARS Rose Award recognized the spectacular Knockout Rose for its beauty and ease of cultivation and maintenance. It is the best selling rose on the market this century.

Roses in the Knockout family excel in garden performance. Each of these easily grown rose varieties is characterized by its beautiful shape, constant bloom, and its ability to resist diseases. In addition, varieties in the Knockout family are drought and shade tolerant

Knockout Rosa Radrazz

Knockout Rose with Minimum Deadheading

Mixed bed Knockout Success

Minimum care Knockout

Individual Knockout–5 1/2 foot Knockout Rose with minimum care, irrigation twice a week, 6 hours sun, afternoon shade.  Deadheading monthly or every six weeks.

Knockouts in Mixed Bed– 5 1/2 foot Pink Double Knockout with minimum care,   irrigation twice a week, 6 hours morning sun, afternoon shade.  Deadheading monthly or every six weeks.

In the last decade, the Knockout roses have come into their own as in residential and commercial spaces. The fact that they are self-cleaning, disease resistant and drought tolerant makes them very attractive to developers uninteresting in tending landscaping any more than necessary.

Knockout Rose Characteristics

These flowers are remarkable due to their durability in cold weather and their beautifully sculpted blooms. The gorgeous flowers are cherry red with 5-7 petals in a flat cup, often grouped in clusters against mossy green foliage. Stem lengths tend to be 8” so these roses are not considered cutting roses.

The Knockout varieties represent a wide range of shapes and sizes, including shrubs from three to six feet in height and width. Without periodic pruning these compact bushes often grow 3-4 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Periodic pruning often keeps the bushes smaller and more shapely.

The Knockout shrub roses differ in flowering tendencies, growth and maintenance requirements based on amount of sun, water, fertilization and pruning. The remarkable thing is that despite conditions that are not ideal, these types of roses typically retain the qualities that so many people have long treasured.

Pruning Your Knockout Roses

Knockout Rose Rosa Radrazz, Double Knockout Rose, Double Knock out pink – whatever variety of Knockout rose you have, you have to be aware of the speed at which they grow. To ensure optimum growth and optimal blossoming you need to water, fertilize, and prune them on a fairly regular basis.

You do not have to micromanage caring for Knockout roses, since Knockout rose bushes are very easy to care for and self cleaning.

Pruning Knockout Roses

Annual Pruning

All Knockout roses will be more productive in growing and flowering if pruned in early spring. Thin out dead and broken wood as well as weaker stems. Cut back in the spring 1/3 of the plant to ensure strong growth and blooming. Shape as desired.

Maintenance Pruning.

Knockout Roses are self-cleaning and do not require deadheading (removal of spent blooms). The Knockout Roses will still be lovely without deadheading. To maximize plant growth and continuous spectacular bloom, however, many Knockout rose lovers deadhead their roses regularly. I deadhead spent clusters and occasional single blooms in front in a prominent place about once a month or every six weeks, far less than I would prune Hybrid Tea Roses.

Must I really deadhead my Knockout Roses?

Knockout Roses are often sold as self-cleaning roses for which no self-cleaning is required. Certainly this step in Knockout Rose care does not need to be micro managed. Rose experts recommend, however, that Knockout roses be deadheaded on a regular basis to ensure plant growth and continuous, spectacular blooming and frequent bloom cycles.

When you deadhead your roses, the next bloom cycle begins. Compare the Knockout rose above, four years old, six hours morning sun, pruning in the spring and deadheading every now and then, and watering twice a week, with the roses below. The latter roses are four years old, enjoy full day sun, no regular watering, no regular pruning including deadheading.

Knockout without Pruning

Knockout Minimal Care

The first picture of Knockout roses are four years old, 3 ½ feet high, enjoyed annual pruning, no deadheading, afternoon shade.

knockouts in Retail Center

Knockouts with Almost No Care

The second picture is of 4 year old Knockout roses in a shopping center, no pruning, full day sun, irrigation twice a week. The Knockout roses, are 3 feet tall but the rose centers are not bushy, blooming cycles are less frequent), growth poor. They are all still lovely aren’t they?

It is your choice! How important is it that your roses reach their potential? The first two pictures show roses that have had care when we could fit it in. Perhaps those in the retail center need a little more care! The Knockout roses are still lovely!!!

So you don’t need to be a professional gardener to enjoy truly amazing roses. A hearty thank you is owed to the horticulturists who have spent decades creating these new strains of roses that produce better plants and flowers. Landscape roses like the Knockout roses make it possible for just about anyone to enjoy the beauty of roses that won’t shrivel up at the first hint of dry weather or rose munching insects.


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