Would You Do ‘Easy Does It’?



Admit it.  You want it.

Ordinarily, I am not the new rose type. Those plant breeders with their corporate conspiracies, out to breed a bombproof plant that anyone can grow, never stopping until there is one in every front yard and parking lot across America. Who needs that?

But — dang.  'Easy Does It' is the All-America Rose Selection for 2010. No disease and a hardiness described as "perfect in every climate?" And it's fragrant?  And it looks like that? Seriously?

What do you think?  Is anybody going to fall for the easy promises of 'Easy Does It' this year?

Speaking of roses with a lot of hype behind them, I was in Pasadena recently talking to somebody about the 'Knock Out,' which won the same award in 2000 and went on to become a big bestseller. In addition to being disease and drought resistant, it was billed as "self-cleaning," which means that the rose hips fall to the ground by themselves after they bloom so they don't have to be deadheaded. It's been 10 years, and I start may seem to be popular in California, where I see them growing in median strips. Has 'Knock Out' lived up to its promise where you are?  I'd like to know your experience.  And then–uh–I might just go rose shopping.


  1. Disease resistance is a big improvement, but when they come up with a rose bush the Japanese beetles ignore, let me know.

  2. You live in rose heaven, Amy, so I’d go for it.

    In my climate, however, long sad experience has taught me to be suspicious of any variety developed after ‘New Dawn.’

    In my yard, the antique varieties are always the most outrageously beautiful, healthy, fragrant, and disease-resistant. I just accept the fact most of them only bloom once, for a few weeks. The once-bloomers, fortunately, tend to finish their show before the Japanese beetles appear.

    As for those “Knock Out” roses, I don’t see the point of them. Ugly. Why on earth would you plant those, when you could plant Charles de Mills or Madame Plantier?

    I’ve been buying old roses for almost two decades from the Antique Rose Emporium. Despite the Texas address, their stock does brilliantly in upstate New York.

  3. I don’t understand the allure of Knock Out. Usually when I look at roses it’s almost like a mystical experience. When I look at Knock Out, I feel nothing. It’s like I’m not even looking at a rose.

    It’s hard to explain what Knock Out is missing, but it’s kind of like the difference between something that’s been mass produced cheaply, democratized for the masses, and a classic hand-crafted item.

    I wouldn’t buy any rose that’s an All America Rose Selection. Stick with species roses and antique varieties, which are truly beautiful, carefree, and fragrant.

  4. We have Knock Outs because my husband wanted them. They have lots of flowers and bloom a long time. They don’t get blackspot here in North Florida. But … they are kind of bland. Like Hilda said, I don’t know what’s missing, but they just don’t appeal to me.
    I prefer the old fashioned roses with lots of petals and crinkly edges and fragrance. He prefers classic style roses and since the rose bed is “supposed” to be his, I let him get what he wants. Then after 2 or 3 years of struggling with our heat and humidity, he has to replace them, while the ones I choose just keep growing. Maybe one day he will learn:)

  5. Knockouts were not big in Portland, Oregon, nor Reno – where any plant that blooms collects admiration. But having relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, I see them everywhere. I actually love them, myself, lol. Profusely blooming, well into late Fall, nicely-colored foliage mixing well with exotic foliage of blue and red of others close by, it is a cool-textured and interesting alternative to something more high maintenance. At least, that’s what I think. I’m stickin’ with it, too. Me likey.

  6. I live in the eastern panhandle of WV. I had sworn off roses but was given a blush KO three years ago. It did so well, in less than ideal soil, that I planted another. I like the abundant bloom. So far the only maintenance has been a once a year pruning. I do not like any of the other KO offerings just the single flowered Blush. By the way, I loved reading “Flower Confidential” and keep recommending it to my garden club friends.

  7. I am a rose romantic as well. I have been know to weep over a beautiful blossom from a moss rose or a ‘Abraham Darby’ from David Austin. These roses are from superior lineage, and should be used whenever possible.

    However there is a place for the knock out varieties. Many people just want long bloom season and disease resistance, they have no time and no budget for the maintenance that a “real” rose requires. For sustainable gardening and design the knock out can be a real savior.
    I am gardening on Nantucket, which can be a very harsh environment. These roses stand up and perform. I love to use them in containers for low maintenance all summer color paired with Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ underneath. I say go shopping but these are not to be mixed with our old fashioned friends they are clearly different.

  8. Knock out roses have been a hit for a particular type of landscape client :
    Those who want a flowering garden with rosy flowers to look at but don’t want to get their manicure bruised.
    As a landscape designer these low maintenance everbearing flowering shrubberies have been declared a winner due to their low maintenance and disease free attributes.
    I can spec them for a commercial median parking strip or a high end country estate and know they will perform and not require an educated maintenance gardener to take care of them.

    They are the Mow, Blow and Go of Roses.

  9. I’ve already asked my neighborhood nursery to set aside an Easy Does It rose for me. I think they look gorgeous and here in the lowlands of the SF Bay Area, having something that is resistant to black spot and rust is a major plus. I got the impression they might be seriously in demand, so people may want to shop early for them.

  10. Woah! You have misled your readers by combining “Easy Does It” Rose and the “Knock Out” Rose into the same posting.
    Easy is only hardy to Zone 6 while Knock Out is hardy to Zone 5. That is a significant difference to gardeners in Zone 5 that prefer not to use winter protection for their roses.
    To the readers who commented about the boring nature of Knock Out, I would like to remind them that gardeners in Zone 5 who can’t be bothered to insulate roses for the winter are happy to trade lushness for Knock Out’s hardiness.

  11. Only sure method to know is to grow it. I tried to pick roses based on a description, but wound up with some that I purposefully dug out and chucked. I grew ‘Golden Celebration’, and though the bloom was a great color, it was far too vigorous and had the nastiest thorns I ever dealt with. I would have called that rose ‘Aunt Marge’ after the overly boss aunt who terrorized Harry Potter until he blew her up and she floated away. If only I had a magic wand and could have said “Wingardium Leviosa” with a swish and a flick to get rid of that imperious rose.

  12. The first time I saw ‘Knockout’ roses I drove past a nursery with a field of them in full bloom… one of those ‘stop the car!’ moments. I worked them into a job I was designing at the time. Pretty soon they did get way overused, as every ‘mow blow and go’ ‘landscaper’ stuffed them into every job. They quickly lost appeal for me. Those that I planted back in 2002 grew to about 7 feet tall in my absence (who knew?) and last year I cut them back to 2 – 3 feet. They came out nicely but lose a lot of leaves in mid-summer. (N Florida heat is brutal.)
    The Easy Does It does have an intriguing flower but may be destined to the same over-use as the Knockout. But fragrance? That might just entice me to give it a try…

  13. At the garden center we sell a gazillion Knock Outs, and many of them to customers I would describe as novice gardeners, but they know Knock Outs. They are also used extensively here in municipal and commercial landscaping. I would say to people who are interested in growing roses, there are more interesting choices. To people who want an easy to grow shrub that will provide lots of color in the landscape, Knock Outs are a good choice.

  14. I won’t try it for a vareity of reasons. I lost a rose to the virus the government brought in to kill off the multi flora rose. So leery about planting more roses. I don’t like the shape of rose bushes. Outside of the flowers they are pretty much a bust for me. I only like climbers. And my little no name pink rose that came with the house and smells like my grandma’s hand cream. I have just enough roses that I can hand pick the *&%^()*^japanese beetles. Just wait west coast. They are moving slowly west. Your day is coming.

  15. I sense a bit of Knock Out snobbery here, but I’ll admit that I love the ‘Radrazz’ Knock Out. Yes, it’s overused in commercial plantings, but it still wows me with that cool cherry red bloom that keeps on going. The leaves have a blue tinge that pairs marvelously with glaucous foliage and big blue agaves. Yum! And by the way, I’m a gardener who doesn’t bother with manicures and doesn’t mind getting dirt under her nails. 🙂

  16. Oddly they were not great roses for me here in “Rose Heaven” aka Southern California. While they apparently have outstanding blackspot resistance, rust, anthracnose, and mildew resistance was not very good. They also grew too large to look really good. The bigger the rose plant, the more space there is between flowers. Compact is better. Overall, not a great variety for this area.

    I did just plant ‘Easy Does It’. It’s a Harkness rose (UK hybridizer), so I’m wondering how color-fast and heat tolerant it will be in my far warmer and sunnier climate.

  17. I hate knock out, I think the color is too shocking, and overall the flower is just blah. ‘Easy Does It’ on the other hand just might get me to fork over a few dollars.

  18. I am the Knockout queen. I have every type of Knockout that is on the market. The single red Knockout (original one) is not great in the Chicago area. I have lost several or they experience dieback to the ground.

    I have replaced them with doubles which according to a Jackson and Perkins rep are hardier. I have pink single and double, yellow and Rainbow. My favorite for looks, bloom time and hardiness is Rainbow. I didn’t plan on it being this way, but I feel like a ottest kitchen for the Knockout Rose!

  19. I love my Knockout rose, which I planted about four years ago. It is mid-border (11 ft tall hydrangea behind it) at the front of the house. It is at least 7 ft tall now.

    I am mostly an edibles/vegetable gardener, though I do plant a few flowers for color and bees/beneficial bugs. I work hard and my plants have to work hard too–and fend for themselves. The Knockout takes no care at all, and is happy and healthy throughout the year. It blooms from May onward, and even the hips look good. The bees love it. Most roses are bare here in VA after June, since blackspot is such a problem. The knockout has never had a problem with this…EVER. The only issues; the flowers (mine is not a double blooms) are natural looking, not full and fancy. And the blooms have little scent.

    I say GO FOR IT! This plant is perfect for the busy working mom who also volunteers. It shows up and gets the job done consistently and without drama. I’d call it the Honda Civic of Roses–reliable, practical, and quietly stylish.

    I might look at the Easy Does It too…

  20. Its the best in Texas. No care. Just watch it grow and bloom. I think every gardener in Texas has on now.
    It does not mind the heat and needs very little if any water. Its a Texas Super Star.

  21. I think Knock Outs are an important plant in the landscape. Their carefree nature and, in Dallas, almost year-round bloom (except for that nasty bout of weather in the teens a few weeks ago) make them exceptional in a tough gardening climate. They leave time for other plants that need some nurturing! I have double red, blush and pink and think they are all great. I also have David Austin roses and Buck roses so I do appreciate those with lovelier blooms – and fragrance.

  22. I have a Rainbow Knockout in a shrub border, zone 4. It is absolutely no maintenance; I might just brush off old petals from time to time-can’t shear as there are always new buds and blooms coming on. I’m a pushover for anything with that peachy-pink color, so will consider the Easy Does It, but sounds like it is way outside my zone. I have several Bailey’s Easy Elegance shrub roses which do very well, even those zn 5. None of them get any cover for the winter. I encourage you to go for it!

  23. Blah blah roses promoted buy someone wanting to make a buck.
    Easy doesn’t wasn’t that great as a free test rose.
    A very dull lacy edged Cinco D Mayo replicant.
    It died cause it was so ugly I didn’t water it.

  24. Easy Does It looks like a fake rose you’d buy at the craft store. Even if it is fragrant, it looks fake (at least in that photo).

    But I’m not a rose fan. I love the smell of old roses but I simply can’t be bothered.

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