The Peggy Martin Rose

A Southern Favorite Due To Their Ease of Care and Gorgeous Pink Blooms

By Jan Brick
Peggy Martin 

Galveston Island gardeners have welcomed the “Peggy Martin Rose” with such enthusiasm and excitement that they have launched a horticultural craze not often witnessed in such abundance. This belle of the south is flourishing extensively this planting season and can be seen everywhere from the east end to the west end clinging to trellises, fences, screens, as well as in creative and unexpected settings.

What is this stunning beauty? It’s a classic Southern rose that boasts a majestic grandeur when in full bloom; a thorn-less rambling style of vine with arching canes and vivid arrays of pink blooms.

This rose was for many years (apparently a native or an adapted plant) grown profusely throughout the coastal regions of Louisiana. This “tough-as-nails beauty” was acquired as a pass-a-long cutting from friends in New Orleans by a gardener named Peggy Martin.

Though a nameless specimen (classified as a “found rose”), Peggy generously shared cuttings with all who showed an interest including Dr. William C. Welch, a professor at A&M University in College Station and a rosarian who has written innumerable accounts and volumes on horticulture. Dr. Welch visited Peggy Martin at her home where he was gifted with several cuttings.

An interesting narrative that follows this rose begins with Hurricane Katrina, a storm that devastated New Orleans and that region of the coast. Peggy Martin’s home and gardens were submerged under twenty feet of salt water for two weeks…the rose miraculously survived and continued to thrive.

Peggy MartinDr. Welch named it “The Peggy Martin Rose” and encouraged several growers, including the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which managed a charitable fund geared to cultivation and propagation, to ensure that “The Peggy Martin Survivor Rose” became available across the area.

For some time, sales of each rose helped to subsidize garden-restoration projects in New Orleans and Beaumont, Texas, as well helped underwrite and restore greenspaces and gardens along the Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana coastlines.

Growing Peggy Martin Roses

The Peggy Martin Rose is a multi-stemmed deciduous woody vine with a vigorous trailing and twining habit of growth. A perennial, grown in zones 4-9, it can attain a height or length of 12-15 feet or more.

It boasts dark green foliage and an abundance of pink blossoms with white overtones and gold eyes that are excellent for cuttings from spring to mid-fall. It thrives in full sun needing only average amounts of water; the blooms are especially attractive to bees.

Though touted as “thorn-less,” there are prickles on the undersides of the leaves while the canes are free of thorns. Longer canes will root into the adjacent soil if they reach to the ground.

Mostly disease-resistant, occasional maintenance of the Peggy Martin should include a fertilizer in the spring and again in the fall with a complete formula. Prune in late winter or early spring removing dead or damaged wood and prune canes by about one-third of their length. Remove any in-wood facing canes to promote air circulation.

The use of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil is recommended in the event of an invasion of aphids or spider mites or a fungicide for any fungal disease.

Yellowing of the leaves can be caused by drought, saturated soil, excess fertilizer, iron deficiency, or fungal disease. To improve the soil the addition of compost, aged manure, or leaf mold can be helpful.

As with most roses, full sun is preferred especially in the morning to dry the nighttime dew, but some afternoon shade can be tolerated.

When watering, early morning or late afternoon is best. Water until the soil around the base is saturated but allow the soil to dry out between applications and avoid watering the leaves which can cause fungal diseases. Less water is needed in winter months.

It grows at a fast rate and, under ideal conditions, can be expected to live more than thirty years. It is interesting to note that Peggy Martin’s mother’s rose lived to a hundred years.

The “Peggy Martin Rose” can also be used as a climbing vine or as an attractive trellis embellishment. There are many types of trellis options to consider from store purchased to custom made or as a DIY project. Possibilities vary in style and materials.

Cedar is an excellent choice as it is rot-resistant, can withstand the elements and will remain long-lasting. A bamboo trellis would be considered eco-friendly as well as budget friendly. Metal or wire are other durable and long-lasting selections that may be constructed from galvanized steel that will resist rust and corrosion.

An alternative to a trellis is the use of an arbor that can provide a stunning eye-catching and charming pathway to your garden areas.

Propagating the rose is easily accomplished. Use a 6-to 8 inch cutting from current growth (cut the stem at an angle below a leaf node). Remove lower leaves and apply rooting hormone.

Using a stick, poke holes in a container of potting mix. Place cuttings into the holes, firm the soil around the cuttings and water the surface. After several weeks (five to ten) the roses will have rooted and may be repotted.

Contemplate joining this horticultural craze; it will add a new presence to your property and private spaces as well as adding to the beauty and charisma of our magnificent Galveston Island.