Situated in the midwestern United States, Indiana is an agricultural and gardening juggernaut. The entire state lies within only two USDA plant hardiness zones, Zones 5-6. These temperate zones are ideal for growing a vast array of plants. Indiana ranks 38th among U.S. states in terms of land area, but it is among the top ten states for agricultural production. Part of the United States’ corn belt region, the soil in Indiana is rich with nitrogen and organic materials. It is so lush that 80% of the state is either forest or farmland.
This temperate climate and rich soil also make Indiana one of the premier gardening states in the nation. Flowers and ornamental plants decorate the state from South Bend to Evansville every year, including some of the loveliest roses you’ll find anywhere.
While Indiana is the perfect setting for many rose varieties, we wanted to handpick four of the absolute best roses that will thrive in the Hoosier State.
Get to Know the Rose
The Rosa genus includes over 150 species with thousands of hybrids and cultivars.
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Types of Roses for Indiana
For Indiana’s hardiness zones, shrub roses are going to yield the best results. Climbing and bush roses will likely be more difficult to care for and may not handle Indiana winters very well, but shrub roses are tailor-made for the midwestern U.S.
Here are four types of shrub roses that thrive especially well in Indiana beds and gardens.
Home Run Rose (Rosa ‘WEKcisbako’)
The Home Run rose is a hybrid of the Knockout and the Baby Love roses. This rose hybrid is exceptionally resistant to disease and other issues that often plague roses, such as black spot disease, powdery mildew, and downy mildew.
The Home Run shrub rose may feature fewer blooms than other rose types, but what it lacks in number it makes up for in consistency. During the growing season, the Home Run rose is almost always blooming. Planting a Home Run in your garden is a great way for you to “knock it out of the park” with beautiful color.
There is also no need for deadheading. Spent blooms fall cleanly, meaning the plant always appears at peak vibrancy and freshness for the entire season.
Carefree Sunshine Rose (Rosa ‘Radsun Carefree Sunshine’)
The very name of this flower immediately calls to mind lazy, warm summer days. And when you see it in bloom, you can almost feel the warmth of the summer sun.
But don’t let the summery name and appearance fool you. This rose is cold hardy down to Zone 4, below Indiana’s zones, and lower than most other roses on the market. This rose is a great choice for even the northernmost reaches of the Hoosier State
This shrub rose features vibrant lemon-yellow blooms. The blooms appear in clusters of 3-5 with showy gold stamens. The plant can grow 3-4 feet tall and is disease-resistant.
Earth Song Rose (Rosa ‘Earth Song’)
The Earth Song rose was specifically bred to withstand the highest heat of summer along with winter’s icy blast. Kind of sounds like Indiana, doesn’t it?
Introduced in 1975, this fragrant shrub rose has proven its beauty and sustainability for nearly five decades. It is exceptionally clean and disease-resistant. The plant is also resistant to white-tail deer and rabbits, which is music to the ears of many Indiana gardeners.
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true rose to beautify your garden, the Earth Song certainly fits the bill.
Knock Out Roses (Rosa ‘Radrazz’)
This classic might be the easiest-to-care-for rose on the market today. Knock Outs are a clean rose with no required deadheading. They are pest and disease-resistant, including a strong resistance to black spot disease.
Knock Out roses are available in a variety of striking colors, including red, yellow, coral, pink, blush pink, and white. These roses have strong blooms from spring to fall, so you can enjoy these vibrant colors for the entire growing season.
Once you choose the rose variety that is right for you, some best practices will help your roses thrive.
When To Plant
In Indiana, gardeners can achieve maximum success by planting roses in the spring after the last frost. Fall planting is also an option as long the roses are planted six weeks before the first frost. This gives the roots ample time to establish before winter dormancy.
The first frost date for most of Indiana normally occurs October 1-15. The average last frost date for much of the state is May 1-15.
Where to plant
Roses need lots of sunlight. Choose a spot that receives a minimum of six hours of sun a day.
Drainage is also key. While roses need consistent moisture, standing water can waterlog the plants. Too much water prevents the roots from receiving oxygen and the plant basically drowns.
Prepare the site by loosening a two-foot area of soil. Work a good bit of compost or manure into the soil.
Dig a hole large enough for the root ball. Mix in some bone meal when planting. It will provide a slow release of nutrients that will benefit your roses for a long time.
Spread the roots out before filling in the hole. Tamp down the soil and then water the plant generously. For multiple plants, space them 3-5 feet apart.
Roses require a good bit of attention throughout the growing season. Most of all, they require a lot of water. While you don’t want to drown the plants, roses are more often lost to under-watering than overwatering.
As a general rule of thumb, roses need to be watered every 2-3 days. And, even though many gardeners frequently water their roses, they often don’t provide enough water each time. Roses need a deep soaking every few days. This is highly preferable to a lighter watering, even if it is done every day.
The water needs to reach at least 16 inches deep into the soil. This encourages deep, strong root growth. If just a light watering is provided, the water will only penetrate the top few inches of soil. That encourages shallow root growth. Shallow roots will lead to a multitude of problems, and likely means that the roses will not be sustainable for the long term.
Roses need consistent watering throughout the growing season. Begin watering in the spring and continue until the plant enters its winter dormancy.
Feeding every few weeks through the growing season is also quite helpful. An organic fertilizer mix that is specific to roses is your best option. It will contain the proper nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus levels that will help your roses reach their peak size, color, and health. Stop fertilizing 6-8 weeks before the first frost.
Roses are non-toxic. In fact, they are edible! Rose leaves, petals, buds, and hips have a variety of culinary uses.
While all roses are edible, some taste better than others. While taste is certainly subjective, if a rose smells pleasant to you, there’s a good chance it will taste good, too.
Caution: if you use synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or any other chemicals, do not eat the plants!
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Molly Shannon/Shutterstock.com
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