How To Plant Double Knockout Roses
Double Knockout Roses do exceptionally well in North Texas. They are tolerant of the hot, dry conditions, and with the right soil preparation, will be outstanding growers and bloomers. I have Double Knockouts in several full sun areas around my yard and have a row that serves as a screen during the spring and summer months for my pool area (that's how good they grow!). They are low maintenance, needing only to be dead-headed after each full bloom and pruned back 30-50% before they come back each spring (here that's usually February). They are hardy through all buy the northern most and southern most zones, and with good care, they will last a very long time.
When it came to deciding on foundation plantings for a full sun stretch of the house, these bushes were the first on the list. No, they are no evergreens, but, in my climate, they have leaves from late February through the end of December, or the first killing frost, whichever comes first. So most years, they are only without leaves for 2 months, tops.
I had a long run and was going to require seven to eight shrubs. Spacing would be roughly 3 feet apart. This way they would grown in to each other and create a screen. A word of caution, these roses are thorny, so make sure you are wearing really good gloves when planting.
The first thing I did after marking out my area was prepare the soil. Soil in North Texas can be nasty to dig in. The top few inches typically get dried out and hard packed. If there is grass, and it is a St. Augustine or Bermuda, the roots are tough and since these grasses grow like a carpet, it gets thick right at the soil level. Once you get through the top layers, more often than not, you hit clay. Where I am, it is the yellow/red clay that clumps together like concrete. A cultivator or roto-tiller will have a hard time with this and unless the soil is well tilled, the plants will have a hard time too.
I used a good old fashioned spade shovel to break up the soil along the area where the new bed was going to be. After it had been broken up into manageable chunks, I went through with the cultivator, making several passes, each one deeper than the last. After cultivating, I picked out rocks and large unbroken lumps of clay along with any remnants of grass or weeds that were kicked up by the tilling. Once I was satisfied that I had sufficiently loosened the soil, I added peat moss. I used 2 3 cubic foot bags. You may need more or less. For my area, I spread the peat 2 inches thick on top of the tilled soil. After spreading out the peat, I went through the area again several times tilling the peat moss into the planting area. With the bed prepared, it was time to plant.
Dig a hole
For each 3-gallon plant, I dug a whole that was roughly twice the diameter of the pot it was in. I went a good 8 inches deep and removed excess clay and soil, trying to keep as much peat in place as I could. I then filled in the hole about half way with peat. Removing the plant from its container, I held it over the hole and broke up the root ball by hand. The potting soil was rich and loose and this process was simple. I mixed some of the potting soil with the peat and set the plant in the hole. I then filled in around the new shrub with dirt and peat from what was removed from the hole and packed her in well. I repeated this process for all the other shrubs, eight in all.
After planting, I watered the area thoroughly. I will water once daily in the early evening for the next few days and watch for any signs of stress. When I have given the new plants a few days to settle in, I'll add two inches of pine bark mulch to the area and fertilize with rose food. In a few more weeks, once everything has had a good opportunity to take, I will use a combination insecticide and rose food to protect and feed the plants in one step. I will not rely on sprinklers to water these bushes for the first summer. I will hand water daily. This way I can control the amount of water and where it is going. Plus, I don't have sprinkler heads located in such a manner that they will get the entire bed and with water saving heads, the roses wouldn't get much to drink.
And that's it. These bushes are idiot proof. I do not have a green thumb by any means, but I can dig a hole and fill it in. If you can do the same, you can have a successful rose garden too.