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  • Kathy Monge

Queen of Flowers - Gardening with Floribundas

Greetings from Southern California! Roses abound here, and I hope they will spread throughout the country as you read about the hidden rose gem class of floribundas. Floribundas are just what you desire—abundant flowers, come in many colors as well as fragrance and easy to maintain. For novice rose gardeners, the floribunda roses are the go-to group to start. Just a bit of history and maybe a "Trivia Crack" answer about the floribunda class. Floribundas were created in the 1920s crossing the dainty florific polyantha rose with the hybrid tea grabbing its strength and length of the stem all thanks to the Danish rose hybridizer Svend Poulsen.

How do floribundas fit into your landscaping? Generally, they will be short to medium height (3-5 feet). Ideally a front or middle area planting for the best visibility. In my area, 'Iceberg', which is white and blooms in clusters, is mass planted for commercial as well as private landscaping giving a solid color scheme to enhance the surrounding landscaping. To give maximum impact, plant them in groups of three or more for that spectacular “Wow Factor.”

The form is typically a loose open style with 25-35 petals. This has changed over the past decade with many now showing a high center point form like the hybrid tea as well as one bloom to a stem can now be seen. Scent was not a common trait but now there are many newer varieties that will tickle the olfactory zone.

Color is typically solid or bi-color (2 colors on a petal), but now can include stripes or flecks of color variation. Now that should excite you!

Let’s look at some wonderful floribundas to get you started (all grow well in Southern California).

'Ketchup & Mustard'—This is a tall variety (5-6 feet) so put her in the back. She will bloom in clusters as well as one bloom per stem. The color lives up to its name. I have never seen disease on this one. The leaves are a dark and very glossy.

'Oh My!'—Huge clusters of medium dark red blooms cover the bush. It also has glossy dark green foliage. It was a 2018 ARS Member’s Choice awardee. This is a good choice to be grown across the U.S.

'Brass Band'

'Brass Band'—Another bi-colored rose in clusters. It is listed as an apricot blend, but I see it more as orange and golden yellow. I have this in the corner of my front garden. The first bloom in the spring makes visitors stop in their tracks. This was a 1995 AARS winner.

'Julia Child'

'Julia Child'—The buttery yellow blooms are loaded with fragrance as well as disease-resistance, dark green, glossy leaves that mark all the check boxes you desire. The repeat is very good. This also makes an excellent tree rose. I love fragrant roses to be grafted as trees, so you can just walk up to the bloom and nose plant it. It was a 2009 Member’s Choice and 2006 AARS winner.

'Koco Loco'

'Koko Loko'—This is a mauve blend. It is unique as it changes colors from a tan to mauve as it ages. It is a nice neutral color and has a hybrid tea form with clusters and some single blooms. There is a moderate fragrance. The foliage is matte and lighter green.

Check with your local rose society or Consulting Rosarian for more suggestions. So many roses to choose from but these are some classic floribundas to get your rose garden abloom!

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