Roses Without Chemicals: 150 Disease-Free Varieties That Will Change the Way You Grow Roses

Roses Without Chemicals: 150 Disease-Free Varieties That Will Change the Way You Grow Roses

by Peter E. Kukielski


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“I wish I had this when I planted my rose garden twenty-five years ago. I am now about to plant another garden, full of wonderful rose varieties and I intend to follow Peter's advice wholeheartedly.” —Martha Stewart

Have you tried to grow roses, only to give up once you realized how dependent on pesticides they are? In this lush guide rose expert Peter Kukielski highlights 150 rose varieties that excel in gardens without the use of chemicals. Roses Without Chemicals features information on planting, pruning, and pests; plant profiles that include a color photo and details on color, growth habit, and fragrance; and helpful lists of roses organized by color, growing habit, and region.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604693546
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/28/2015
Pages: 268
Sales rank: 612,100
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

While Peter E. Kukielski was curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, the garden received the Great Rosarians of the World Rose Garden Hall of Fame Award and was voted America’s Best Public Rose Garden Display by the All American Rose Selections committee. He now works internationally to help botanical gardens be chemical-free. Further information can be found at

Read an Excerpt

Preface (It’s not your fault)
Whether you are a home gardener or the steward of a public rose garden anywhere in the world, I want you to have the confidence to grow roses, or to grow roses again, without chemicals. That’s my dream and that’s why I wrote this book. By the time you have finished reading, I hope you will feel free to grow a huge variety of these spectacular plants.

Because nearly everyone has heard the phrase “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” I often quote it when talking with people in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, where I was the curator for eight growing seasons. These words come from the 1913 Gertrude Stein poem Sacred Emily, and people have taken the line to mean something like “Things are what they are.” Ironically, the rose was a very bad example for Stein to use for her metaphor. Taken as commonly understood, the sentence would mean that all roses are basically the same, and no matter which pretty picture you see in a rose catalog, the plants are all going to grow the same, smell the same, and perform the same.

Stein would have been more on target if she had written, “Rose is (not) a rose is (not) a rose is (not) a rose.” That’s because all roses are not created equal. Or, more importantly, all roses are not created for the same purpose. 

The process of creating new rose varieties is called hybridization. Breeders cross one rose with another rose to create a new variety that has a different combination of genes than either of its parent plants. Almost all roses that you can buy today have been hybridized for one purpose or another. Sometimes that purpose is to emphasize a gorgeous color that catches your eye. Maybe the hybridizer likes a certain cupped flower. Sometimes it is for a particular fragrance or growth habit. Some roses are created with hardiness in mind, because the hybridizer wants or needs the roses to survive harsh winters.

With thousands of roses now available on the market, the choice to the home gardener can be daunting and confusing. In my quarter-century of purchasing and growing roses, I have always desired to find a rose that is better than the one I am growing at the moment. I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing, the next best rose. Does this sound familiar? Some of my friends have a similar desire with fashion—always wanting the next great trend or popular item. I used to think that roses are similarly fashionable and that the rose industry mirrored the fashion industry. In both these worlds, a color or style can be hot one year and out the next.

Yet too often, when I found a stunning image of a rose in a magazine and determined that I must have that treasure, ordered it, put it in the ground, cultivated it, and loved it—it rewarded me with disappointment. The leaves became diseased, its color or fragrance was lackluster, or even worse, the entire rose bush died. Many despondent and frustrated rose lovers have shared similar stories with me.

Perhaps this has also happened to you and if so here is the central point I want to make in this book: it is not your fault. In the pages that follow I am going to explain to you why some roses fail to thrive, and how to choose and grow roses in an environmentally sensitive way for your garden, in your part of the country. In the directory you’ll find 150 of the best-performing and most disease-resistant roses available on the market today. I have grown every one of these roses myself and have chosen them out of the many thousands of other roses that I have grown and trialed over the years. I have included a rating for each rose based on the qualities that matter most to gardeners: disease-resistance, bloom, and fragrance. You can rest assured that they are the very best choices for a sustainable, chemical-free rose garden. 

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