The EARTH-KIND® Rose Research Program (Phase I) started in the early 1990’s with a sponsorship from the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association to find roses suitable as low maintenance landscape plants for Southern gardens. The identification of disease tolerant, low maintenance roses that would be handsome shrubs, even without blooms, and provide the extra benefit of flushes of fragrant blooms was of primary importance.
Phase II of the research program which is funded by the Houston Rose Society is designed to identify a collection of low maintenance roses meeting the EARTH-KIND® criteria which will grow beautifully in every state in America.
EARTH-KIND® Rose Research (Phase I and II) was and continues to be conducted by horticultural scientists with Texas AgriLife Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Dallas, Texas. Hundreds of rose cultivars have and continue to be evaluated in this monumental research project. Research protocols required the selected rose cultivars to be evaluated on these criteria:
* Grown on their own roots,
* Be salt tolerant,
* Be tolerant of poor soils,
* Be tolerant to a wide range of soil pH values,
* Be heat, drought, and wind tolerant,
* Be tolerant to rabbit injury,
* Be winter hardy without protection,
* Perform at high levels with no commercial synthetic or organic fertilizer and with no applications of fungicides, insecticides, or miticides on the plants,
* Requires no deadheading,
* Very little pruning and
* Performs with greatly reduced supplemental watering.
It was not expected that the test plants would never get blackspot or be damaged by insects. The criteria required that the plants not be significantly impacted by the presence of such conditions. In order to receive the EARTH-KIND® designation, roses under evaluation could not drop more than 25% of their leaves more than once a year. EARTH-KIND® Roses may experience minimal leaf drop, but have the ability to quickly shrug off the disease and/or insect damage.
Dr. Steve George
Professor and Landscape Horticultural Specialist
Texas Cooperative Extension
What it takes to be an EARTH-KIND® Rose
In order to receive the coveted EARTH-KIND® designation, test cultivars must pass two very demanding hurdles.
First, they must do well in multi-year, randomized, replicated research plots at Texas A&M in Dallas.
Second, they must perform equally well in statewide and national field trials.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”