A Better Rose Than Knock Out

July 30, 2015 | By | Comments (14)
Drift roses

‘Coral Drift’ rose. Photo: starrosesandplants.com

No doubt about it, ‘Knock Out’ rose has been the most successful plant introduction since marijuana. Millions upon millions have been sold to people looking for constant color with zero maintenance to the point where it’s hard to find anyone growing a rose that isn’t ‘Knock Out.’ But perhaps for the average homeowner, there might be something better.

See, one of the misconceptions about ‘Knock Out’ is that planting it is the only demand it ever makes of you. Not so. Look closely and you’ll notice something astonishing. It grows bigger every year! An unpruned plant eventually reaches 6 feet tall and wide. And since it’s one of the most viciously thorny of all roses, you can imagine how many blood transfusions you’ll need after you prune it and your frantic but not overly bright neighbors find you unconscious. I can hear them now: “What’s the number for 9-1-1?”

Drift roses

‘Red Drift’ rose. Photo: starrosesandplants.com

Thus, the Conard-Pyle Company, those friendly folks from Pennsylvania who introduced ‘Knock Out’ rose to America, saw an opportunity. They brought out a new line of roses called Drift. Just like ‘Knock Out,’ they bloom nonstop and don’t need spraying for disease. But these roses grow only 18 inches tall and about 3 feet wide with an arching, graceful shape.

Drift roses

‘Sweet Drift’ rose. Photo: starrosesandplants.com

Conard-Pyle calls them “ground cover roses” because you can plant them in a sweep at the front of a bed for a blanket of color. But you can also let them drift from a container or drift over a low wall or drift over a bank — if you get my drift.

The way Grumpy sees it, Drift roses offer several advantages over ‘Knock Out.’ To wit:

1. They’re not ‘Knock Out.’ The world needs something different.

2. They don’t grow as big and have more graceful forms.

3. Their flowers have a more traditional rose shape.

4. Quite a few of the Drifts, such as ‘Coral Drift’ and ‘Sweet Drift,’ are fragrant.

Drift roses

‘Peach Drift’ rose. Photo: starrosesandplants.com

How to Grow
There’s not much to master here. Just plant Drift roses in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. They grow well throughout the South and also parts north — USDA Zones 4-11. Look for ‘Drift’ roses at garden centers now and in the fall.

Related Articles You Will Undoubtedly Enjoy

Is ‘Knock Out’ Rose Down for the Count?

Pruning ‘Knock Out’ Rose — When, Why, and How

The Rose That Survived Katrina




  1. Pat Lopinto

    Do deer like them?

    February 16, 2017 at 12:09 pm
  2. Aloma McKnight

    All my knockout roses got the virus that was going around. I dug them all up. Do not like them.

    August 21, 2016 at 9:50 am
  3. Haley

    Would be nice if all these questions would be answered!

    August 21, 2016 at 6:14 am
  4. Cher Caddell

    I’m waiting for a rose that is DEER PROOF

    August 8, 2016 at 10:56 pm
  5. Kay

    I have the pink drift roses…they do get black spot. I am having to treat mine now…they are not looking good at all and I do have to trim and shape them up occasionally. If I had it to do over, I would use the coral color roses instead of the pink. It is a very weak color in the landscape. I would change them out, but for the expense. These roses are about $35 per plant where I live!!

    August 7, 2016 at 8:59 pm
  6. Laurie Livingston Stixrood

    Like Jan, 7 of my 8 knock outs got the Rosette disease and had to be destroyed. I want to know if these are safe to plant near where the knock outs were and whether they’re susceptible to the Rosette disease ?

    August 1, 2015 at 1:51 pm
  7. Jeanne

    Is this the same as a shrub rose? I have had one for 15 yrs. I never went for the knockout,after having my shrub 🌹

    August 1, 2015 at 2:52 am
  8. Sharlene Beckwith

    I planted a Drift rose and am very disappointed. Once the flowers finish blooming the petals don’t drop off, leaving the plant full of dried brown masses of ugliness. I am going to dig it up and remove it from the garden because it is an eyesore.

    July 31, 2015 at 7:59 am
  9. Emily

    I had 12 knock outs that had to be destroyed bc of “witches broom”. Can drift roses be planted in same location, or should I wait 3 years before replacing this area with drift roses?

    July 30, 2015 at 10:29 pm
  10. Laura Wright

    I use Drift roses in my clients’ gardens often, and they are very nice. Unfortunately, they, too, can get Rose Rosette disease. We dug up two Corals, and put new ones in another location. So far, so good.

    July 30, 2015 at 3:55 pm
  11. Jan

    My 10 knockout roses got the damnable rosette disease and had to be dug up and destroyed.Are these drift roses susceptible to rosette?

    July 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm
  12. Prencella Hamby

    I love these and have a place that only gets afternoon sun. Is that enough for them???

    July 30, 2015 at 10:36 am
  13. Terri Willoughby

    Since roses everywhere are being plagued with the disease, “witches’ broom,” how are these drift roses faring?

    July 30, 2015 at 10:30 am
  14. Geri Laufer

    Steve, my Knock Out Roses grew to 12′ x 12′ (not 6 x 6 as you state in this great article. Best, Geri

    July 30, 2015 at 10:19 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s