Ask Burton: Q: I had a nice bed of roses until they were visited by rose rosette this year. I want plant recommendations that will bloom as long as my roses did, grow in similar sizes, and won’t catch that disease.

A: Fortunately, that last is simple. Only roses can catch rose rosette virus. Literally any other type of plant will do that for you. The other requests are harder.
Roses bloom for longer that just about anything we can recommend, but there are some specific alternatives that will come close and will thrive in the sunny spots your roses would do well in. Choose one that reaches the size you’d like it to reach.
  • Rose of Sharon (Althea) – Not a rose! Althea bloom from the latter half of May throughout the summer for us. The plant makes large flowers in various shades of white, pink, red, and lavender purple. “Blue” altheas are not truly blue – the plant gets to a bluish flower through pink shades – but they’re pretty. Normal althea will reach eight to as high as twelve feet high, but newer types such as ‘Lil’ Kim’ are compact growers in the four-to-five-foot size range. Deciduous shrub.
  • Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) – Autumn sage are a long blooming perennial that most treat like a small shrub. Shear the plant when the blooms look spent and it will reward you with another flush of color. Autumn sage will bloom from May through the summer and into the early fall. Occasional shearing will keep the plant tidy and two-to-three-foot high and wide.
  • Hardy Hibiscus – Another great perennial! Hardy hibiscus have huge blooms in red, pink, and white colors. Most will grow in the four-to-five-foot height range, but ‘Texas Star’ hardy hibiscus become huge! If you want flowers in four-to-eight-inch sizes, you’ll get them with this plant for most of the summer.
  • Lantana – Lantana will give you reliable color in cycles from May until October. The trailing varieties are more winter hardy and make excellent substitutes for trailing or low shrub-style roses. Yellow, white and purple trailing varieties, and multi-color (and taller!) upright types shine in a North Texas summer. Taller, multi-colored types may need to be replanted each year depending upon the severity of the winter.
  • Crapemyrtle There are crapemyrtles in almost any size ranging from low miniature shrubs to twenty-foot cornerstones of the landscape. White, pink, red, and lavender colors will bloom from June until late September.
These aren’t the only choices possible, but they are some of our favorites. Perhaps they will become some of yours, as well.
Hardy Hibiscus