Is it possible to “go green” with roses? If you choose an appropriate variety and practice preventative maintenance, the answer is a resounding YES! With a little extra planning and cultural care know-how, rose gardening can be an organic experience. So get ready to set aside your chemicals for a season and see just how successful you can be with alternative methods.

Choose the right rose

It should require lower-maintenance and be disease-resistant. Our love affair with hybrid teas over the past 50 years has conditioned us to think of roses in terms of fussy plants that require constant upkeep. Sure, those long-stemmed beauties at the supermarket make for a great bouquet, but they are among the least cold-hardy and most disease-prone roses around.  In reality, the rose family is tremendously diverse, with more than 200 native species worldwide. Within this genetic diversity are roses considered to be very disease resistant.

Plant it in the right spot

For minimal upkeep, the location should be sunny with good drainage and air circulation.  If you plant the same rose in the shade, next to a wood fence, or humid dryer vent, you’re asking for trouble.


Inspect roses regularly

The sooner you catch insect or disease problems, the easier they are to deal with.  Preventative measures are more environmentally friendly then a regimented spray program.

Enlist the help of environmental friends

Attract birds and beneficial insects like ladybugs or praying mantis to your yard to eat aphids and other harmful bugs. Companion plants like garlic, basil, mint, and marigolds also help repel insects. Increase the diversity of your yard with different kinds of plants to create a more balanced growing environment.

Hansa Rose

Rugosa roses (such as ‘Hansa’, pictured above) are well-known for their disease resistance and lower maintenance requirements. They may actually drop their leaves if sprayed.

Organic Hints for Growing Roses

  • DO select the right rose for your climate and plant in a sunny location
  • DO grow roses on their own roots (the bud union on grafted roses can act as an entry point for diseases)
  • DO monitor your roses for initial signs of disease and promptly remove infested parts before they have a chance to spread
  • DO mulch with 2 to 3 inches of compost to add nutrients to the soil and suppress weeds
  • DO use organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion or manures
  • DO spray with jets of water to control aphids or mildew
  • DO try alternative products like horticultural oil and insecticidal soap to control insects and diseases
  • DO fall pruning and cleanup to prevent fungal diseases from overwintering on canes
  • DON'T use broad-based or full spectrum insecticides, which kill good bugs as well as bad (thrips and spider mites often thrive after full- spectrum applications that kill their natural predators)
  • DON'T spray with chemicals (unless as a last resort for truly devastating problems)
  • DON'T spray Rugosa roses with anything (they will drop their leaves if sprayed)
  • DON'T plant roses in poorly drained soil (invites root rot)
  • DON'T keep problem roses around. Remove them and replant with disease-resistant varieties instead (you'll both be happier!)

Helpful Products for Organic Gardening



Robusta 1979 KORgosa


HR112-John Cabot-2

John Cabot

EN934-Golden Celebration-2 Golden Celebration

HT384-Moonstone-3 Moonstone

EL180-Anne Harkness-2

Anne Harkness

AL257-Queen Of Denmark-3

Queen of Denmark

Iceberg, Climbing

Cl. Iceberg

LS780-Carefree Wonder-3

Carefree Wonder

Lower Maintenance, Disease-Resistant Roses

Please note that this list does not imply stock availability.  It is intended for your information only.

“Earth-Kind” Roses (designated by Texas A&M)

  • Belinda's Dream (mp/lp)
  • Carefree Beauty (mp)
  • Cl. Pinkie (mp)
  • Else Poulsen (mp)
  • Knockout Roses (series)
  • La Marne (pb)
  • Mlle. Cécile Brunner (lp)
  • Mme. Antoine Mari (pb)
  • Mutabilis (yb)
  • New Dawn (lp)
  • Perle d'Or (yb)
  • Rêve d'Or (my)
  • (w)
  • The Fairy (lp)

Rugosa Roses

  • F.J. Grootendorst (mr/lr)
  • Jens Munk (mp)
  • Marie Bugnet (w)
  • Mrs. Doreen Pike (mp)
  • Pavement Roses (series)
  • (mr/dr)
  • Rosa rugosa alba (w)
  • Rosa rugosa rubra (m/dp)
  • Roseraie de l'Haÿ (dr/m)
  • Scabrosa (m)
  • Thérèse Bugnet (mp)


Hybrid Kordes Roses

  • Champlain (dr)
  • Henry Kelsey (mr)
  • (mr/dp)
  • John Davis (mp/lp)
  • William Baffin (dp)

David Austin English Roses

  • Golden Celebration (dy)
  • Heritage (lp)
  • Jude the Obscure (my)
  • Mary Rose (mp)
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles (dr)
  • The Alnwick Rose (pb/mp)
  • The Mayflower (pb)
  • Wildeve (pb/lp)

Hybrid Teas

  • Double Delight (rb)
  • Elle (pb/ob)
  • Gemini (pb)
  • Midas Touch (dy)
  • Mister Lincoln (dr)
  • Moonstone (w/pb)
  • Olympiad (mr)
  • Paradise (m)
  • Tahitian Sunset (ab)
  • Tiffany (pb)
  • Voodoo (ob)


  • Abundance Roses (series)
  • Anne Harkness (ab)
  • El Catala (rb)
  • Gold Medal (my/yb)
  • Irish Hope (ly)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (ab)
  • Pearlie Mae (ab)
  • Remembrance (mr)
  • September Song (ab)
  • Sexy Rexy (mp)
  • Sunsprite (dy)
  • The English Lady (ab)
  • Wild Ginger (ob)

Old Garden Roses

  • Aimée Vibert (w)
  • Alba Semi-plena (w)
  • Blush Hip (lp)
  • Celestial (lp)
  • Celsiana (lp)
  • Clotilde Soupert (w)
  • Comte de Chambord (pb)
  • Félicité Parmentier (lp)
  • Frau Karl Druschki (w)
  • Great Maiden's Blush (w/lp)
  • Jacques Cartier (lp)
  • Jeanne d'Arc (w)
  • Kazanlik (dp)
  • La Ville de Bruxelles (dp)
  • Mme. Plantier (w)
  • Pompon de Bourgogne (pb)
  • Queen of Denmark (mp/pb)
  • Rose de Rescht (dp)

Climbing Roses

  • Apricot Impressionist (ab)
  • Autumn Sunset (ab)
  • Cl. Iceberg (w)
  • Cl. Pinkie (mp)
  • Don Juan (dr)
  • Joseph's Coat (rb)
  • Polka (ab)
  • Portlandia (pb)
  • Royal Pageant (ab)
  • The Impressionist (yb)

Shrub Roses

  • Baby Love (dy)
  • Ballerina (mp)
  • Beautiful Carpet (mp)
  • Blueberry Hill (m)
  • Carefree Delight (pb)
  • Carefree Sunshine (ly)
  • Carefree Wonder (pb)
  • Cassie (w)
  • Crystal Fairy (w)
  • Danny Boy (dr)
  • Drift Roses (series)
  • Flutterbye (yb)
  • Fragrant Masterpiece (lp)
  • Hawkeye Belle (w)
  • Kateryna (mp)
  • Ladie Elsie May (op)
  • Louise Clements (ob)
  • Lovely Fairy (dp)
  • Meidiland Roses (series)
  • Morning Has Broken (my)
  • Petal Pushers (lp)
  • Prairie Star (ly/pb)
  • Prairie Sunrise (ab/ob)
  • Pretty In Pink (lp)
  • Red Fairy (mr)
  • Rosy Hedge (pb)
  • Sally Holmes (w)
  • Summer Wind (op)
  • Sunita (ob)
  • Sunrise at Heirloom (ob)
  • Tequila Sunrise (rb/yb)
  • The Fawn (mp)
  • The Magician (yb)
  • Winter Sunset (yb/my)