Knock Out (for newbies)

diane_nj 6b/7aMay 12, 2012

There was a question asked in the Tom Carruth thread about Knock Out, so I thought I would start a separate thread.

Knock Out is a variety of rose (class "Shrub") hybridized by Bill Radler (registration name: RADrazz). The rose is marketed by Star Roses. Over the years, there have been two sports or mutations of the original Knock Out found, called Pink Knock Out and Blushing Knock Out. Radler has also hybridized Double Knock Out, Pink Double Knock Out, Rainbow Knock Out, Sunny Knock Out. Star Roses markets them together, and you may see them in special pots marked "The Knock Out Rose". They have been disease resistant for most of the continental US, make a nice hedge (when mature) and are relatively easy to care for. Some people don't like them because "they don't look like a rose". Knock Out and Double Knock Out are being used heavily by landscapers these days.

There have been problems reported (unknown fungal diseases, plants dying for no identifiable reason). For me, if someone come to me and says "I can't grow roses", I recommend one of the Knock Out series or Home Run. If they are willing to wait and order bareroots in the fall, I recommend the "Fairy Tale" series from Kordes.

Local garden centers have been taken over by Knock Out, driven, IMHO, by the strength of marketing efforts. Sales have been successful for these businesses, and as long as there is demand, their presence will remain. There are other disease resistant roses out there, but folks have to be willing to do research and look for them. In this area people want Knock Out, R. rugosa (lots of beach areas) and hybrid teas.

I don't hate Knock Out ('cause I appreciate all roses), I just don't like the color (not big on red of any shape or form). I like Blushing Knock Out, it makes a nice color accent at one corner of my house (it is in back of Caramel Fairy Tale). Photos tomorrow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Roses Hybridized by Bill Radler at

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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Thanks you for taking the time to explain, Diane.
I have seen the term so many times -- usually in a derogatory context -- but had never taken the time to ask what they really were.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 3:43PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

If KOs weren't so overused by landscapers, I probably wouldn't have such a strong negative reaction against them. The bloom has never done anything for me, although the splash of persistant color on disease-resistant plants is nice and the reason why I bought 2 Double KnockOuts several years ago (and 3 Home Runs for a small hedge, and 1 The Fairy, just cuz). But with each year that I see the KO's overused even more than before by the landscapers, the more I come to getting really disgusted with KO's. Thank goodness my ratio of 2 KOs to 68 other kinds of roses (including a dozen David Austins and over a half dozen "old" type roses) keeps the KOs in their place--as a minor splash of color here and there--and that is it!

But if I were in business and needing to feed my family, I would sell as many KOs as I could get my hands on!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 4:16PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

They aren't all that common here because their hardiness level isn't really up for this climate. Any time we see winter lows below about -10F, I notice places where Knock Outs used to be.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 4:35PM
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seil zone 6b MI

And they are disease resistant, not disease free. My KO spots all the time. Yes, it doesn't defoliate easily but it still spots.

The derogatory remarks are more because they are eliminating the availability of all the other kinds of roses than against the rose itself. The original is a very ho-hum single red bloom. As a specimen plant and up close and personal it's very unremarkable but as a mass planting it can be spectacular from a distance. The doubles and the new colors are an improvement on the bloom to be sure but they will never be as lovely as say an amazing exhibition style HT bloom or a grand Old Garden rose. They don't have much fragrance either.

The problem is that Star has so successfully promoted it as THE perfect landscaping rose that it's the only thing people have heard of and so it's the only one they think will do the job and hence forth, the only one they want. When in fact there are a lot of other roses out there that are just as healthy and are much prettier to boot. But nobody has heard of them. As a result the nurseries have stopped carrying other types of roses because they don't sell like hot cakes the way the KOs do. And this spring I've noticed that every place I've been to, from big box stores to mom & pop local nurseries, the KOs are being priced HIGHER than the other roses. Because they know they can sell them no matter what the price. People want them so they'll pay for them. I was at Home Depot this afternoon. They had a handful of HTs and climbers all marked at $14.95 a 5 gallon pot. The HUGE display of KOs were marked at $29.99 for a 3 gallon pot. At my favorite local nursery their regular roses are $17.95 and the KOs are $23.95. So if you were a nurseryman which would you carry the most of? The other roses that may or may not sell at xx dollars or the KOs that will probably sell out at XXXX dollars? By the way, Star now insists that they are in those branded green pots too. I was talking to the owner and she said they had to repot their entire stock because the Star rep. came by and noticed they hadn't used the green pots.

And now a larger problem has arisen in that there have been thousands of these mass plantings of them all over the country and because they were hyped as easy care they are basically receiving NO care and are now beginning to be hosts for the dreaded mite that carries the RRD virus that is spreading and killing roses all over now.

It's a terrible catch 22. Yes, they got people who were afraid to try roses to try them. But it's gotten way out of hand now and I don't know what the solution is.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 7:31PM
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