This is one of the HOTTEST & most frequently asked questions in my Facebook rose group - Growing roses In Houston Texas for as long as I can remember. If you have seen photos of David Austin roses before, you probably will go ooh and aah, marvel at their beauties, and want to grow them in your backyard.
The big question is - should you really grow them, especially in our climate? Will they really look like the photos? Will they even grow and bloom during our Texas summer? I'm going to walk you through and cover those points below about David Austin roses to help you make a decision for your rose dream.
Left: Alnwick | Middle: Boscobel | Right: Desdemona in spring
For this blog post, I want to specifically focus on Houston, Texas 9a growing zone where I live. My backyard is also South-facing, no shade in the afternoon and all roses get long hours of sun/heat exposure (up to 10-12 hours during summer months).
If you are in a similar climate as far as living in an area with high humidity and intense summer heat, this information may be applicable. However, if you live in a dry climate in one of those states in CA or Pacific Northwest. This info most likely will not be accurate. Humidity and heat impacts greatly when growing roses because your bloom shape, size, petal count will look different.
Left: Gentle Hermoini | Right: Eustacia Vye in spring
What are David Austin roses?
If you are new or don’t know much about David Austin roses, I would like to give some context. If you're familiar, you can just skip this section.
David Austin roses are English roses bred by David Austin Senior. Their family farm originated in Shropshire, UK. His mission was to create beautiful roses with beautiful fragrance. A little bit about David Austin Snr. as I found his interest in roses to be quite fascinating given that he’s a man. Most women seem to be obsessed with flowers, but it seems that some men also have admiration for the beauty of roses (and other flowers) too.
Here is a short bio of David Austin Senior from the David Austin roses website - “In the 1940s, when he was just a teenager, David Austin was already fascinated with roses. Soon after, his hobby became his life. He released his first rose, 'Constance Spry', in 1961. During his lifetime, he released over 200 new roses, creating an unrivalled collection, beloved throughout the world. 80 years on our objective at David Austin remains the same as when he first started out - to create a more beautiful rose.”
After seeing those roses, I’m certain we become very appreciative of his work and the gorgeous creations he had contributed to the world.
Why are David Austin roses special? What is the hype about them?
Honestly, I never knew or heard about David Austin roses until the year 2020 when I got hit really hard by the rose bug to start my rose garden dream again. Like many of you, we often see red roses sold at the grocery store. Those were slim, long, pointy blooms. That’s pretty much the image of rose I was used to seeing for the most of my life.
However, English roses have very different looks to them. The blooms are very full of petals after petals, fluffy, big, and have globular or cupped shape and form. Some even look frilly with ruffle petals.
They almost look like peonies or in some cases resemble carnations when fully opened. They look dreamy, ethereal, and super feminine. Those English roses also come in so many soft colors you can imagine. Most are pink, blush, apricot and many more. Did I mention about their fragrance yet? Intoxicating!! David Austin roses have the type of fragrance that are quite exquisite. They smell like expensive perfume ranging from fruity to myrrh.
After seeing and hearing about how glorious and gorgeous those roses were in a few different rose groups on Facebook back then, my doors to roses suddenly opened WIDE! It’s like wow these were the kinds of roses I did not even know existed and they were absolutely stunning! I wanted them ALL!
Like you, my first thought was - would they even grow in this climate? I grew roses before and didn’t have much luck about a decade ago - but what the heck! Let's give them a try. So I ordered my very first 2 David Austin roses to try in 2020 and not too long after that many more joined my garden. I believe I have 10+ different varieties from the David Austin rose collection to date. If you want to see the list of all my roses, here’s the link to that list.
My experience growing David Austin roses in Houston, Texas zone 9a
Fast forward 3 years later, you may be wondering what my experience has been like after having grown some of these David Austin roses for a few years.
Each person has a different set of expectations when it comes to growing plants/flowers. Some people are okay with flowers that bloom spectacularly and amazingly only in the springtime. Some people want roses that will bloom consistently throughout the year while maintaining the same bloom shape, form, color, and size from spring to summer to fall.
Therefore, I’m going to break down my experience with David Austin roses in 3 seasons so that you get a clear idea of what and how they perform.
Please note that roses take at least 3 years to mature. If your roses are still very young, their ability to bloom or withstand weather will be different from older roses.
Some David Austin rose varieties also perform better in heat than the rest. I just don't own them all so I can't comment on all DA varieties.
How does David Austin roses perform in the springtime
By far, springtime is definitely the prime time for David Austin roses to bloom and shine in our Texas weather. They are GLORIOUS in cooler months. They bloom abundantly. Bloom size, bloom shape, form, colors, and fragrance are absolute perfection. Foliages and overall health are very good as well.
You get to enjoy their glorious blooms from about April to May or mid-June, depending how fast the heat arrives on that particular year. You may get lucky if they repeat fast, you may get 2-3 flushes in spring.
How does David Austin roses perform in our Texas summer heat & high humidity
Your experience may vary if your roses get some afternoon shade, yours may bloom better than mine. Mine are in 10+ hours of full sun, no afternoon shade. David Austin roses continue to bloom here and there for me throughout summer months, but bloom size significantly reduces. Petal count is lower, not as full as in spring. Color fades under full sun. However, if you cut the blooms early in the morning to bring inside, they will last longer than leaving them to fry on the bush.
This is where the confusion comes in. When I first saw photos of David Austin roses in different Facebook rose groups, most people who posted those gorgeous blooms lived in California or the Pacific Northwest region where humidity was much lower and had different heat types (dry heat versus humid heat). Their roses looked completely different which led me to have a light bulb moment in my head. Even the same variety of rose can look totally different.
Left: Gentle Hermoine | Middle: Silas Marner & Roald Dahl during summer | Right: Boscobel
How does David Austin roses perform in the fall
Although by this time, the intensity of heat is less severe. I don’t remember getting as many blooms as in the springtime. It seems that most of them are starting to slow down. Some varieties may be more prolific than another and that also depends how often you fertilize them.
Bloom size, color, petal count, shape and form improves overall, but they are not that prolific during this time of the year. I’ll have to update how they do in the fall 2023.
Left: Mary Rose | Middle: Gentle Hermoine | Right: Spirit of Freedom
So should you grow David Austin roses?
If you want roses that will consistently give you flowers all year round, look perfect even during the hottest months. David Austin roses are not the roses you seek. To be fair, our summer is very harsh. Other roses (French and German) don't look their best this type of heat either.
For me, I enjoy having varieties of roses to enjoy. Their blooms during spring are so stunning that I don’t mind if I can see those blooms in one season or maybe two (fall). That is worth it for me. Enjoy more photos of David Austin English roses below.
Check out YouTube videos for more rose videos all year round
Coming soon: Staying at this gorgeous, private 70 acre garden in Oregon.