What to do when the Knockouts Have Been Knocked Out

Selecting a replacement shrub for roses lost to Rose Rosette Disease

landscape plants with infected roseIt’s finally over. After searching the internet for treatment alternatives, and trying all of Aunt Millie’s over the back fence advice, what the experts predicted would happen actually happened. Your Knockout roses (and many others) were killed by Rose Rosette Disease. You followed professional advice and dug them up. Now you worry that nothing will ever be as pretty. What could possibly replace these beautiful, superstar plants?

Before deciding what to plant, ask yourself:

  • Do you need a shrub that is evergreen? (see list of options below)
  • Would a perennial (or possibly several different perennials) fill the void just as well as your rose?
  • How tall or wide does it need to be?
  • Do you REALLY want blooms or are colorful leaves sufficient?
  • Would you prefer a drought-tolerant plant?


In addition, consider the following options:

  • You can plant a variety of different shrubs so that if one (or more) dies, you won’t have to try to fill the hole left by a 7-year-old mature plant with a new baby plant.
  • If you want drought tolerant plants, check out these sites. Input your zip code and desired characteristics for a list of plants for the Denton area:
  • You can plant another rose in the same place, but only if you remove all the old roots from the soil. The virus does not survive in the soil, but it does survive in roots. If it is a mature shrub, removing all the roots is difficult. Not every rose will contract RRD. For those that do, it is fatal. Only you can decide whether to take that chance.


Evergreen shrubs for Denton County

  • Agarita – Berberis trifoliolata – 4’ tall. Yellow blooms in spring
  • Hollies: Burford, Yaupon, Foster, Nellie R. Stevens, Carissa (some of these also come in dwarf sizes)
  • Abelia – Abelia x grandiflora – 6’. White flowers in summer
  • Dwarf wax myrtle – Myrica pusilla – 4’
  • Eleagnus – Elaeagnus pungens ‘Fruitlandii’ – 6-7’
  • Italian jasmine – Jasmine nudiflorum – 4’ tall. Yellow blooms in spring
  • Compact Pfitzer Juniper, (Juniperus chinensis var. chinensis ‘Compact Pfitzer’),  4′
  • Mahonia – Mahonia bealii – 3-4’
  • Compact Nandina – Nandina domestica ‘Compacta’ – 3-4’. Outstanding fall and winter color
  • Rosemary  – Rosmarinus officinalis 3’x 3’
  • Texas Sage – Leucophyllum frutescens – 6’. Blooms June-October
  • Red Yucca – Hesperaloe parviflora – Extremely tough plant with high heat tolerance 3-5’

 Other hardy plants that are not evergreen

  • Dwarf pomegranate – Punica granatum – blooms in summer 3-4’
  • Dwarf crape myrtle – many colors available
  • Flame acanthus – Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) – Red blooms in summer
  • Japanese barberry – Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ – 5’


More information:

Houston Rose Society

Plant Clinic about Rose Rosette Disease








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