Radler's Roses

Radler's Roses

Part of Ep. 902 Sex and Roses

Bill Radler, a rose breeder and the former director of Boerner Botanical Gardens talks about his award-winning "Knock Out," bred with Wisconsin growing conditions in mind.  Beautiful color, long-lasting blooms, disease resistance, delicate scent and fall foliage all make "Knock Out" a winnng plant.

Premiere date: Jul 25, 2001

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
This is the award-winning rose, Knockout, bred specifically for Wisconsin's unique growing conditions. That's because its creator knows Wisconsin's growing conditions so well. This is Bill Radler, and Bill you're the former director of Boerner Botanical Gardens and, obviously, a wonderful rose breeder. Tell me about the award that Knockout won.

Bill Radler:
Shelly, Knockout won the All-American award, All-American Rose Selections Award for the year 2000. It's a very prestigious award recognized around the world, and I'm really thrilled Knockout got it.

Shelley:
Well, You should be.

Bill:
Isn't that a great color, that's why we're calling it Knockout.

Shelley:
It's unlike any other red, I don't even know if I can call it a red.

Bill:
It's a hard to describe color, but a very pleasant color that blends with just about everything in the landscape. And then if you stick your nose in it, isn't that a lovely...

Shelley:
Oh, it has a very delicate scent.

Bill:
Very nice.

Shelley:
Not the heavy musky, more of a light perfume.

Bill:
Right.

Shelley:
It's lovely. Well, you've got it trained here, as a standard, how would it work in my landscape?

Bill:
Ah, as a landscape plant, it is probably superlative. Somebody has gone as much to say as this is the best flowering landscape plant bar-none.

Shelley:
Wow!

Bill:
So forget it's a rose, it's a great landscape plant. It gets about three feet high, three feet wide, and blooms continuously all summer long, into a perfect mound.

Shelley:
So, if it's blooming continuously, I have a lot of dead heading to do.

Bill:
No, you don't. Knockout doesn't realize it's a rose sometimes I think. Because when the blooms are finished, the petals drop of cleanly and it goes into a growth spurt right away to produce more blooms and some hips for fall color.

Shelley:
Well normally, if you don't dead head, it stops, it's done blooming for the year. So this will just keep going all year?

Bill:
All summer long.

Shelley:
Wow.

Bill:
A low maintenance rose.

Shelley:
Do I have to do any pruning in the spring perhaps, or--

Bill:
Well, it will get some winter injuries, so for that reason, when you plant it, plant it deep, plant the plant deep. And then cut out any dead wood in the spring of the year.

Shelley:
Wow, okay. No pruning, spraying? How is it with insects and disease?

Bill:
Well, Knockout again doesn't know it's a rose. It's resistant to some insect pests like leaf hopper, Japanese beetle, rose midge. But its real claim to fame is its disease resistance to the worst scourge of roses, Black Spot.

Shelley:
Well I don't see much damage on it. How is that going to disfigure it if it did get Black Spot?

Bill:
Usually, in June the roses start getting Black Spot. The leaves look a little funny, then they turn yellow and they drop off the plant, and you have a naked plant for the rest of the year.

Shelley:
So is this an example of what happens if I've got Black Spot then, this one that's looking rather peaked?

Bill:
It sure is. And growing this side by side with Knockout would show that Knockout is truly disease resistant.

Shelley:
That's wonderful. Because, yeah, this is really unsightly in the garden. Especially, I would assume by fall that you have almost no leaves at all.

Bill:
Right, by July usually you have no rose leaves at all with most roses. And then because it has all its leaves on, it gives you another little benefit in the fall of the year by sometimes giving fall color, and it's very similar to this purple on this creeping potato vine.

Shelley:
Knockout has fall color as well?

Bill:
Yes, fall color and it's just a great little landscape shrub that you plant, give it plenty of water, a little fertilizer, and just sit back and enjoy.

Shelley:
Well it sounds like it's almost worth any backyard then. How does somebody become a rose breeder extraordinare? How did this start?

Bill:
I started in the 70s breeding roses, and what I do is I take two different roses and I cross pollinate them, and a fruit forms and I collect the seed and grow the seedlings. The seedlings are not usually better than either of the parents, but when they are, like it was with Knockout, you really feel rewarded, and then it's worth the 25 years that I've put in to getting Knockout to the market. The other thing is, it's not my only rose that's going to be on the market.

Shelley:
How many roses are you actually growing then?

Bill:
I keep an inventory of about 1400 roses in my backyard.

Shelley:
Okay, let me ask you another way, wow. How many of those are worthy of merit after 25 years of work?

Bill:
Knockout is my first rose entry, thankfully it's an award winner. Other roses are going to be coming on the market, if they aren't already. Like Carefree Sunshine, a 2001 introduction. The 2002 introductions are going to be Rambling Red, a winter hearty red climber, and Olbrich Mary Red is going to be a, like a red hybrid tea for 2002.

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