Two Roses of Distinction--Texas Superstars

December 18, 2003

Victoria County
Master Gardeners


In our continuing series of Texas Superstars, today's article will be about two roses that have not only been chosen as Texas Superstars but are also designated as "Earth-kind," meaning they are thoroughly tested plants that help to beautify landscapes, require minimum maintenance and provide maximum environmental protection.

To gain the Texas Superstar status, plants must go through the rigors of the Texas A&M University CEMAP team, which is composed of horticultural researchers and Extension specialists, agents and even nursery industry representatives. It originated for identification of superior landscape plants for Texas and their subsequent promotion in the marketplace.

CEMAP stands for "Coordinated Education and Marketing Assistance Program," and was initiated by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Extension horticulturist in San Antonio, more than 20 years ago. Efforts were then expanded to include research in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. In 1989, statewide participation developed, and now the program has grown to encompass 20 research sites across the state, from Amarillo to Beaumont to San Antonio and El Paso.

Through creation of CEMAP, one of the largest horticultural field trial systems of any university in the nation, these professionals now evaluate plants across the state. This rigorous testing program usually requires three years of trials for an annual flower and up to eight years for a new woody plant.

Once testing has been completed, only the truly outstanding plants, those which consistently delivered the highest levels of landscape and garden performance, coupled with the widest range of adaptation and the strongest pest resistance, are designated Texas Superstars.

Two to four new Texas Superstars are announced each year. As noted previously in these columns, plants receiving the Texas Superstar designation are identified to consumers with the trademarked Texas Superstar name and logo on plant labels in the pots and on large nursery display posters.

Using Texas Superstar plants increases the consumer's chances for gardening success and helps to further beautify and protect the Texas environment, because a few cents for the sale of each label is returned to Texas A&M University to fund additional research.

Now let's talk about what is meant by "Earth-kind." For the past five years, Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Dallas has researched more than 117 rose cultivars. The roses were planted in poorly aerated clay soil, pH 8.0, with no amendments and no fertilizers. Also, no dead-heading or chemical spray was used. Basically, the only care they received throughout the testing period was the use of 3-inch-thick mulch and drip irrigation.

To be designated Earth-kind, roses must not only have thrived with minimal care but also must have bloomed three out of the four seasons. Five years of such harsh treatment narrowed the search from 117 cultivars to 10 possible Earth-kind roses.

At this point, they were moved to statewide testing. After all was said and done, 10 roses were designated Earth-kind, including sea foam, Marie Daly, Caldwell pink, knockout, Perle d' Or, Belinda's dream, Else Poulsen, Katy road pink, Mutabilis-butterfly rose and climbing pinkie. Only two of these 10 roses were also named Texas Superstars: Marie Daley and Belinda's dream.

Read on about these two outstanding performers.


Marie Daly is the newest addition to the Texas Superstar list, being added just this year. It is a small rose, blooming on and off throughout spring and into fall. The small pink clusters, which curtail a rich, musky fragrance, are born up from the large, rich-green leaves.

Being only 3 feet high and 3 feet wide and having few thorns makes this rose an excellent choice to use as a container plant on a sunny patio. It is also superb for mass planting or used as a dwarf landscape border plant.

If you are a beginner gardener, you will find this rose is extremely easy to care for. It does well in almost any well-drained soil and possesses little disease and pest problems when given proper air flow.

These traits designate Marie Daly as "Earth-kind." Marie Daly was born from an antique rose called Marie Pavie, which dates back to 1888. Basically, these two polyanthas roses only differ in color. Marie Pavie has semi-double white blooms, while Marie Daly has a semi-double pink bloom.

One of the most popular Texas Superstar plants is the gorgeous rose named "Belinda's dream," bred by Dr. Robert Bayse and introduced in 1988.

Four years later, it became the first rose designated a Texas Superstar. Its attributes include large fragrant and antique-like double pink blossoms with successive flushes of bloom from spring to fall. Hips are not produced. Excellent wind, heat and drought tolerance are additional characteristics, earning the Earth-kind designation from Texas A&M.

Belinda's dream forms a fast-growing shrub 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide and produces when planted in any well-drained soil. It is best to use a drip or soaker hose irrigation system. Six to eight hours of full sun and good air circulation will aid bloom production.

Pruning should be done after the last chance of a freeze and again after bud development.

Enjoy this near perfect landscape beauty.

Each rose seems to captivate a certain history all its own. Many gardeners recall their childhood years through the wonderful aroma or sight of a beautiful rose. We hope that many memories, simplistic and tranquil, will captivate more child-like hearts.

These two roses are long-lived, as is our own journey through life. Simply said, roses do more than touch our senses, they captivate our hearts.


Update on Superstar Roses

Knock Out was first introduced in 2000 and hailed a "breakthrough shrub rose" by the All-American Rose Selections because of its exceptional disease resistance and hardiness. It was one of three roses to win the prestigious AARS award for outstanding garden performance in 2000.

From Texas Superstar web site.

Also see EarthKindRoses.