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Suggestions for good roses for the Austin, TX area

November 13, 2012

Hi rosarians! I'm building a house in the Austin, TX area and would love to put a rose garden along the back retaining wall of our property. We would be doing a raised garden bed, I have a ton (literally) of leftover brick and stone from the exterior of the house, so we could probably get it fairly high. Our soil appears to hit bedrock at about 4" in depth, maybe we could get it a little deeper since we have to rent a trencher to dig lines for an automatic sprinkler system. The wall is on the East side of the property and is full afternoon sun, it's 6' high if that matters. I think we would be aiming for 20 feet or so in width and 3' deep unless there's a better configuration!

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts on varieties that are very heat tolerant, I saw 116 on our weather last summer so it's important! I personally really like purples/lavenders (but know those may be totally out of the question because of fading), and bi colors like the Chicago Peace or Day Breaker, any suggestions you have would be welcome regardless of color. Thank you in advance!

Comments (29)

  • CelesteA

    It ate my photo!

  • ogrose_tx

    If you're at all interested in the older roses check out Antique Rose Emporium, they have great selections, and not ALL of them are old.

    Also, Chamblee Roses in Tyler has a website, they have very nice roses.

    Good luck!

  • jerijen

    Second the suggestion to go to Antique Rose Emporium (and Chamblees) for roses tough enough to survive your weather.

    I have one old pink China rose that came from my family's cemetery, east of Austin. That tough old rose has survived heat, drought, gardeners and roundup for a century that we know of. That's the sort of rose you want to grow, where you are.


  • jktx55

    I would recommend Broadway HT for a multi color. New Day HT for a Yellow, Pascalia HT for white, First Prize HT for a pink. They all grew excellent in my garden this year during the heat wave. I'm in Somervell county near Glen Rose, TX.
    Good luck

  • seil zone 6b MI

    It's on the east side of the house but faces west right? So it will get a lot of hot afternoon sun. I would be careful about planting too close to the wall itself. You don't want to cook the roses there and that wall is going to reflect a lot of heat. There are a lot of roses that prefer hot dry conditions so look for those. I wouldn't recommend the David Austin roses because they tend to be very thirsty devils and you'd have to water like mad to keep them happy. They're bred in Merry Old and DAMP England!

  • sabalmatt_tejas

    Hi Celeste- I'm growing the following in ATX : crepuscle, Le vesuve, Cecile Brunner, Georgetown tea, climbing cramoisi superieur. I recommend The Natural Gardener - they carry Tx tested roses and many from the Antique Rose Emporium; It's About Thyme- antiques; Barton Springs nursery- large selection of Austin adapted roses.

  • CelesteA

    Oh wow, thank you guys for all of the feedback! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, we had major house drama all week, sale fell through, sale went back, sale fell through, now it's back. Thankfully we *should* be able to close on Tuesday or Wednesday. My hubby and I are probably going to head out to Georgetown/Austin today, so we could take a peek at some of the nurseries. I'm hesitant to buy anything right now because of how unstable the sale has been :/

    Yes, the wall is east, but gets the west sun, I wish it was the other way, but the houses in that tract are like $50,000 more for less house and they're 100% shaded by the "mountain". We're setting up an automatic sprinkler system in the back with a drip line to that spot, so I should be able to keep it really well watered.

  • BriosaFarm

    I live in the Austin area and have tried a lot of roses, including purple ones. I strongly suggest you get your purple fix with perennials mixed with the roses; purple roses just don't do well here and the heat changes the color anyway...might get a very few stunning purple blooms in winter but mostly it's just an exercise in frustration. Pink, white, apricot and yellow roses look wonderful with purple and blue perennials, so you've got a lot of scope. Your raised bed with some good dirt (Geo Growers or Natural Gardener) and supplemental water will help the right roses thrive even in a hot full sun exposure. They're all going to lag a bit when we hit weeks of triple digits, but that's when those purple and blue perennials will shine, and a lot of roses will bloom for months. Explore: Souvenir de la Malmaison, Mrs BR Cant, Mutabilis,Le Vesuve, Heritage, Crepuscule, Perle d'Or, Old Blush, Maggie,Marie Pavie, Belinda's Dream. If you develop preferences for certain colors or bloom forms (apricot roses, David Austin form, white, red, etc.) you can get more recs. Barton Springs Nursery and Natural Gardener carry a lot of roses from Antique Rose Emporium and have good selections right now.

  • BriosaFarm

    Forgot to say that with the roses you mentioned (changeable, bicolor) you might look at Rosette Delizy (bicolor, not huge), Mrs. Dudley Cross (similar to Peace, nearly thornless), Marie vanHoutte (big, thorny, similar to Mrs DC in bloom), and Lafter. I haven't grown them all, but they regularly show up on lists for Central Texas, great in the heat.

  • CelesteA

    I dropped by the Barton springs nursery today and got a Josephs coat and a lavender Lassie climber to try, because of the radiant heat from the wall it's a try it and see deal. I'm super excited, my grandpa used to show roses, he would be proud :)

    I think you're right about keeping the purples to perennials.

  • CelesteA

    I dropped by the Barton springs nursery today and got a Josephs coat and a lavender Lassie climber to try, because of the radiant heat from the wall it's a try it and see deal. I'm super excited, my grandpa used to show roses, he would be proud :)

    I think you're right about keeping the purples to perennials.

  • ilovemyroses

    ditto on what brio said. I am in dallas, and have alot of west exposure. not as drastic as yours, but you really DO have to watch it! ARE is a great resource, all the roses mentioned are good. yes, the purples will burn and not look right. try mexican sage, lavendar would do well in the less irrigated parts or on the edges. Big roses like Mutablis could offer a bit of shade to some others perhaps. Mulch will be quite important. July through mid September might be challenging water wise without irrigation at a decent rate while they are getting established. You could do some Texas Mountain Laurel (slow growing native tree with awesome purple flowers with delicious fragrance in the spring) to offer some variation...I believe it is evergreen where you are?? nice foliage too. and could offer some break from the sun. It really looks HOT with all that stone...some trailing roses?? Sea Foam? even the Drift roses do well, bloom well (not snob appeal, but great performers IMHO). Germander is a good evergreen filler. handles heat for me very well. BLackfoot daisy? Good Luck, it will be beautiful, and so glad you have irrigation!!

  • CelesteA

    I think I want to put in lavender in the front where those shrubby things are, and maybe move those into the back to line the front of the rose bed. I noticed that a lot of our neighbors have roses on the front of their houses that get the west sun, so I'm hoping it works out as well as their have (they look great with the exception of one super leggy bush, but I think they've never pruned or watered it, so in that case it looks excellent).

  • seil zone 6b MI

    Oh, pretty house! I love the stone and the border!

  • jerijen

    Keep in mind that Lavender can get to be very, very large. Look for dwarf varieties -- which also get to be pretty big, but not AS big.


  • mike_in_new_orleans

    Have you considered constructing a few overhead arbors spaced throughout the bed? You could then plant climbers to provide some dappled partial shade and perhaps cut the temperature a bit.
    Since you mentioned a few modern varieties, and those are my favorates, my suggestions for heat would be:
    St. Patrick
    Tahitian Sunset
    Love and Peace
    Marilyn Monroe
    Veteran's Honor
    Pope John Paul II
    Bride's Dream
    Louise Estes
    Belinda's Dream
    and yes, Chicago Peace and Peace.

    One mauve rose you might still try is the mini-flora Deja Bleu. It is a pink/lavender/raspberry blend that varies with the weather, but it is nearly floribunda size and for me has held up well in our hottest August heat (I realize that is not 110+ temps, but still very hot.
    Another Mauve blend that has done well for me is Paradise. It has quirks. It is prone to easy chemical burn if not thoroughly watered some hours before any spraying. But IF you keep this rose well-watered, it seems to come through hot hot weather well. The blooms will shrink significantly but still be shapely and plentiful. If you're going to have an irrigation system on a timer, you might give either or both of these two a try. (No guarantees, of course.)
    If you decide to use some arbors, you could plant purple bougainvilla, or clematis. You could also plant a couple lavender crape myrtles. These all handle heat well.

  • CelesteA

    Thank you Seil :)

    We're still working on the backyard now, we had to forget the auto sprinklers back there for now, something is wrong with the pressure to the ones in the front. I guess we'll have them professionally done later. The roses I bought are still really happy in their pots even though the wind beat them up some. My mom also sent me some yellow roses that have been in our family for 4 generations, so I'm trying to get them to root, hopefully they do :)

  • harmonyp

    The difference between your humidity and my dry air may be a game changer, but Heirloom and Angel Face keep blooming for me all summer. Last year we had a milder than normal year - highs around 103 ish for a few weeks. Often it's up to 110, but strangely not for a few years now. I recommend both highly for beauty, fragrance, and hardiness.

  • CelesteA

    It's actually really dry here too, it hasn't been humid at the same time as blazing hot since we got here in 2010. So maybe it'll be the same! The Angel Face is incredible! I bet it would be really pretty in front of the house with the light exterior! I only realized in the last week that like... 3/4 of the houses down my street have roses in front, so they can't do too terribly here.

    I wanted to post a pic of what I want the rose garden to look like, we just outlined it with extra brick so we know where to sod around, it's about 2 1/2 feet by 12 feet. It'll get mortared and maybe 3 rows added upwards soon, it's all leftovers from the house.

  • jerijen

    I have some real concern for the amount of reflected heat you're going to have off that stone.

    We have a South-facing concrete-block retaining wall, 12 ft. tall, and the width of the garden.

    We are in a far, far milder climate than you, being coastal, with fog and cool coastal air for large parts of the year. Yet, when the weather DOES get hot, the sun bounces off that retaining wall, and it is brutal.

    We have lost quite a few roses to sun-scald along that strip, and have done our best to mitigate the problem by using latticework panels, between the roses and the wall.

    It is, however, a continuing problem. Any roses with areas of bare cane are inevitably compromised. We've found the Chinas (and some Teas) or any roses that carry a LOT of foliage do best in that difficult situation.


  • alameda/zone 8/East Texas

    I used to live in Georgetown so know how hot it gets. I think Mike's suggestion of arbors is excellent. You could also consider a couple of crepe myrtle trees - White Natchez crepe myrtle is a tree that can take alot of punishment and survive well and bloom in the summer. The Natchez has a really pretty arching form and can give some height and interest to the wall and perhaps a bit of shade to the roses. In back of my horse barn in an area with all day hot sun, I have crepe myrtles and old garden roses [Maman Cochet, Mrs. BR Cant, Mon. Tillier, Mme. Berkeley, Georgetown Tea] planted together - the effect is beautiful. I have differing colors of the crepe myrtles - lavender [here is where you could include your lavender color], hot pink, light pink, white, red - really is striking in the hot summer when the roses are resting.

    I have also found that it really is true that mulching is important. I mulch my roses with horse compost then topdress with wood mulch from Home Depot. The roses thrive - the ones I didnt mulch dont look nearly as good.

    My suggestion would be to plant old garden roses first - and I also highly recommend the Antique Rose Emporium and Chamblees. I was just at ARE - bought several of the Pioneer roses that are supposed to be really tough. Also, I would like to recommend the Buck roses. Carefree Beauty is a good one. There are many other good ones - Eutin is a red that has literally hundreds of buds on it - really an eyecatcher. The noisettes - and I adore Crepuscule! - are very hardy. The ARE had a store in San Antonio, now closed, but I would call P.K. at the Independence store - tell her your growing conditions, and let her recommend. Get their color catalog and look that over. I think the really important thing for first year roses is to mulch and water. I did that with my above mentioned bed - now I never water them and they are fabulous. If you dont have much experience with roses, you will succeed with the old gardens - then branch out to the hybrid teas if you like. If you built an arbor, you might have some luck growing a couple of the Austin roses under it where they can get a bit of shade.

    A couple of tough reds are Cadenza and Cameron Bohls. I have both and love them. Dont forget about the Lady Banksia rose - both white and creamy yellow. They are marvelous in the spring. New Dawn should do well also. From what I recall of soil in your area - be sure and dig a big hole and incorporate good soil with the native soil. I have also heard - bought some, going to try it next time I plant - that a cupful of shale, which holds then releases water, is good to put in the hole of roses growing in dry hot areas. Good luck! Love the limestone on your house....

  • CelesteA

    Ok, after a lot of moving and my Army related business we finally got the roses in today. We weren't able to add any of our soil because we just don't have any, just a lot of rocks. But we mixed top soil, potting soil, and mushroom compost, then put hardwood mulch over the top that has compost tea spread over it. I couldn't find white lattice that wasn't flimsy, but did find redwood lattice. I snapped a picture right after we finished, but I had mostly lost the light for the day. Lavender Lassie is on the left, and Joseph's Coat is on the right.

    My rose canes from Minnesota that belonged to my grandpa are thriving, they have an incredibly ugly and very very thorny bush, so I may just plant them on the South side of the house under the windows to discourage burglars :p

  • ken-n.ga.mts

    When I saw that retaining wall, the first thing that hit me was "WOW, 3 Hannah Gordens' planted 24" apart would look fantastic." If you could find room for a least 1 I think you would be VERY happy with it.

  • prairielaura

    I used to live where you are. There is a nursery called It's A Jungle with many many beautiful rose plants and very knowledgeable staff. The owner lady is a bit charm-challenged, but just ask someone else there for advice. My all-time favorites for that climate are Chrysler Imperial and Rouge Royale, which i bought there. Cut the blooms before ten in the morning and enjoy!!

  • bluegirl_gw

    Lavender plants will get BIG in Austin. I just moved west of S.A. & planted them everywhere (I couldn't have them in my old humid coastal zone).

    Now (1-2 years later) they are all over 3' tall with comparable spread. Covered in butterflies. I think they would tolerate the back of the bed well & laugh at the reflected wall heat. But do plan for a finished size that is enormous.

    Old garden roses & many modern ones love the dry climate if they have adequate mulch & water. I think you'll have a lot of fun growing roses.

    Beautiful home!

  • CelesteA

    We had a terrible windstorm this week and it tore out my trellises :( My hubby spent the day getting them screwed into the limestone, they're pretty secure now. Unfortunately when the panels came crashing down they partly crushed the Joseph's Coat, I used the portion above it to use for cuttings, maybe some of them will take.

    What lavender variety do you have Bluegirl? I plan on putting the lavender in front of the house where the landscaping currently is, the landscapers put in some truly hideous shrubs that I don't want to deal with. The only one worth keeping is the pineapple guava just because they're edible.

  • Desertgarden-Las Vegas, Z9a/ PA Zone 6

    Hi CelesteA, I found your thread because we are considering moving to Austin, but I currently live in Las Vegas and there are only a handful of places that get hotter than it does here; well, where people actually live. These are the plants that I have successfully grown here.

    Austin's need afternoon shade.
    The Austins:
    Golden Celebration
    Sharifa Asma
    Glamis Castle ( actually, this one received morning and afternoon sun until about 2 p.m.)

    I grew a Sombreuil, Buff Beauty ( afternoon shade)

    Other Roses:
    Angel Face

    Don Juan
    Joseph's Coat

    Veteran's Honor
    Josephs Coat
    Black Magic
    Jackson and Perkins has a red floribunda that blooms almost non stop (had it at a previous residence with a different color scheme)

    Knock out roses

    First Prize
    Gemini: have grown
    Artistry: have grown
    Queen Elizabeth: have grown
    Easy Going: have grown
    Chicago Peace
    Pink Peace
    Double Delight

    Iceberg: can be abused even here

    Lilie of the Nile (Agapanthus)
    tulips ( put them in the refrigerator for a few weeks)
    lavender ( french and spanish) (the spanish can take full sun and is drought resistant)
    plumbago (they could die down in the winter)

    These are the things I can think of off the top of my head. Many of us are constantly adding to our gardens, so if this is the case for you, maybe this information can be of use.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

    Celeste, when I saw how small your rose growing area is I became a bit concerned. You really won't be able to grow many roses there, especially since the bed is so narrow. Given the fact that you have so much space, why not make the rose growing area much larger?Of course you can grow lots of other things there too, which will make it look much prettier and more interesting than just roses alone. Grass takes a lot of water, doesn't give shade and doesn't encourage birds and beneficial insects and other creatures. If you try some of the old roses, they get very big and beautiful and would need a lot of space. Lavender Lassie can get huge. I'm also concerned that your west-facing wall with cook everything. That's how I lost a beautiful climber, Reve d'Or, by planting it where it got afternoon sun. Roses don't have to be against the wall, and in fact will get much better air circulation and will suffer less if they're out in the open. Do you have a patio that you could plant a rose garden around? That would cool down the house area, especially if you added some trees like crape myrtle and perhaps had an arbor for growing climbers. I'm afraid the trellis is going to be much too small and flimsy for the climbers you have planned there, assuming they survive. You say you have a dry climate, which is what I have, and mine also gets very hot. Does the front of your house have a cooler exposure? That might be a good place to have roses also. Mine get very stressed by the heat, especially if there isn't sufficient rain.

    I hate to sound so negative, but I've had to toss or give away any number of roses because they couldn't stand my heat. Lavender Lassie is very beautiful but from what I've heard the rebloom isn't particularly frequent, so don't be distressed if it doesn't rebloom like some other roses.

    We're always here for you with advice should you need more information.


  • Desertgarden-Las Vegas, Z9a/ PA Zone 6


    This post was edited by desertgarden561 on Sun, Jul 7, 13 at 17:39

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