Drift Roses VS. Carpet Roses

shetlandMay 4, 2012

Hi. I am hoping you experts can help me. I live in Coastal MA and am finally ready to plant in front of my house. I love the look of the thick, full, medium-height rose bushes I see on Nantucket and around New England. I have been looking at pictures and it appears it may be either Drift or Carpet Roses I am seeing. What is the difference between the two? Are they both relatively hearty and low-maintenance? Ideally I would like the rose bushes to eventually all run together and look nice and full. They will be the only thing I plant. Any advice/input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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I only have drift roses and I live in a totally different climate, but the drift roses are very full and thick with leaves and blooms. I imagine they would look even better under your conditions. They are very short so far, but maybe they'll get taller. I think carpet roses are taller, but I'm not sure.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 7:40PM
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seil zone 6b MI

They are both ground cover type roses. The difference is that the "Drift" series of roses was bred by Meilland and introduced by Star Roses and the "Flower Carpet" series was breed by Werner Noak. I don't know who introduced those, maybe Weeks or J&P. But they both have a low and more spreading type of growth habit. My Appleblossom Flower Carpet will occasionally send a cane straight up about two feet high but for the most part it spreads out on the ground in about a 6 foot circle.

Yes, they are both hardy roses. I can't say about the Drift ones but my Flower Carpet has fairly good disease resistance and is a very low maintenance rose. Except...it takes for ever to dead head it because it's loaded with blooms!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:43PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I have grown Flower Carpet Red and Coral for about 8 years. They grow 4-5' tall, 6-7' wide, are very bushy with shiny leafs. The bloom is continuous from June into October. They are grown with only what nature provides.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:26AM
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jardineratx(zone 8, Texas)

I'm so happy to see this question regarding the difference between carpet and drift roses. I, too, am planning to use a row of free-blooming, low-growing roses. I've wondered which of these roses are taller and which ones are thornier. I have only seen the drifts in containers at the nurseries and only one carpet rose (coral) in a garden setting so I am hoping you get several responses to your post.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Nature provided you with a lot more than she did me, Harry.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 3:03PM
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The rose I'll always associate with Nantucket is 'American Pillar'. W-a-y back when, immediately after the last day of school each year, my mom took my sibs and me to visit members of her family on the island. 'American Pillar' began its annual bloom period about the time we arrived, and was a riotous mass of bloom when we left about 2 wks later. I remember those roses climbing on houses, trained along fences, and naturalized as long, low thickets along roadways.

I also remember my disbelief one year when we traveled there in mid-summer to attend a wedding, and those roses were nowhere to be seen! That great disappointment is perhaps one reason why I tend to avoid once-blooming roses.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Campanula UK Z8

well they are both procumbent roses, as Seil points out - the difference is merely a question of branding. Alongside the flowercarpets and drift roses, are the 'county' series, many originally from Poulsen but other breeders have contributed (Kordes, Mattocks). Then, there are the gamebird series, (Grouse, Partridge) and the fantastic Japanese Nozomi and Suma. I love these little roses - they fit nicely in an informal garden, are continually in bloom, generally very healthy. They look great scrambling down banks and some of the smaller ones can even be grown in hanging baskets. I prune mine with my topiary shears. A great class of roses, imo.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Wow Seil - I had no clue that carpet roses got that large. I remember asking the forum about a year ago if the one I "saved" was worth keeping, and remember you saying yes. I have pink supreme. So I moved her from shade which she hated and into full sun. Interesting this year although my first flush is essentially over, she is just starting to get buds. Instead she's spent this time trippling in size - from about 1'x1' to about 3 1/2' x 3'. I wasn't prepared for her height so it's awesome to hear Campanula say she prunes hers with sheers which is what I will eventually do!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:21AM
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seil zone 6b MI

I'm glad you saved yours, harmony! The reason it spreads so big is because the canes get about 3 feet long...in every direction! So in the end you have about a 6 foot circle. I have also used some of that short garden fencing to prop up some canes so they aren't laying on each other. That makes it a little taller too. They really are nice roses, healthy, hardy and bloomiforous!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Thank you ALL so much for your input. I ended up deciding on Sweet Drift and just finished planting them. I can't wait to see how they bloom :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 1:25PM
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I just added Drift to my collection of roses last year. I've been growing Flower Carpet roses for over 12 years and I've been really happy with them. Most of the varieties Flower Carpet that I have bloom almost nonstop from about the end of June through our first few frosts. The ones that seem to be the most full in our area are Scarlet and Pink Supreme but I also love Coral and Appleblossom even though they don't get as big. From what I can tell after the first year of having Drift roses is that they are considerably smaller roses - both the flower and the shrubs themselves - but I guess that makes sense because I think that they're promoted as being for smaller spaces. I have mine tucked in some spots between the Flower Carpets where I needed filler.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:19AM
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