11 Reasons to Grow a ‘Peggy Martin’ Rose This Season

Are you thinking of adding a new rose to your garden this season, but aren't sure which variety to choose? The 'Peggy Martin' Rose has a storied history to match its beautiful blooms. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares some of her favorite reasons for planting a 'Peggy Martin' rose in your garden this season.

Pink blooming peggy martin rose in garden.


I would love to say that I am an expert at growing roses. The truth of the matter is, where these most popular and beautiful flowers are concerned, I am something of a novice.

With only one rose bush on my property (and the word bush borders on hyperbole) you can probably imagine my husband’s surprise when I came home from the nursery the other day and asked him to build an arbor for my new climbing rose.

Now, it’s not that my husband doesn’t enjoy the many garden projects I add to his weekend schedule. He’s quite handy and is what I call a measure twice, cut once type of person, while I am more of a cut-measure-cut type of gal, and that doesn’t always make for the best support structures.

So, he was curious, because this is, as I mentioned, only the second time I’ve brought home a rose, and the first time has been a real exercise in patience.

But this isn’t just any rose. This is the ‘Peggy Martin’ climbing rose, and once I fill you in on the story of this rose, I think you will see why I simply had to have one, and why I needed a well-built support structure upon which to grow this curiously resilient rose that has already won my heart.

About ‘Peggy Martin’ Roses

Close-up of a blooming pink climbing rose in a sunny garden, against a blurred background of a white house. The plant is beautiful, has long hanging stems covered with complex pinnate leaves of dark green color and beautiful small lush double buds of pale pink color.
This enigmatic rose variety survived Hurricane Katrina and was named after the woman who planted it in the garden.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Peggy Martin’
genus genus Rosa
plant-type plant type Muti-stemmed, deciduous, woody vine
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
water-needs water needs Low to Moderate
height height 15’+
spacing spacing 3’-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9
soil-needs soil needs Well-Draining

Our story begins back in 2005, just before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane. Peggy Martin and her husband M.J. had been residents of Plaquemines for 36 years and the cultivators of more than 400 rose plants.

They were forced to leave their home and garden to escape the devastating storm surge which plunged their property under salt water for 2 full weeks.

Sadly, Peggy’s parents were unable to evacuate from the property on which they all lived, and they perished in the storm. Peggy was devastated and stayed away for several months before feeling ready to go home and survey the damage.

When they returned, the Martins discovered their property had been destroyed, along with the extensive garden they had cultivated. While inspecting the damage, Peggy noticed a bit of green peeking out from the ground near her shed.

What Peggy found surprised her, the bits of green were shoots from an unidentified climbing rose that had been handed to as a cutting her by her hairdresser years before. She had planted the rose near the shed, away from the prettier parts of her garden. There, the “found rose” as she called it, grew to enormous proportions, covering the roof of the shed by the time the hurricane hit.

Peggy and her husband were too grief-stricken by the death of her parents there on the property to rebuild, and so they sold the property and never returned.

However, several years prior, Dr. William Welch, a horticulture professor from Texas A&M had taken an interest in the mysterious rose for its prolific growth habit.

When Welch learned that the rose had survived Katrina, he launched an effort to preserve it, and ultimately named it after Peggy, as no one else was able to identify it as an existing variety. The plant was cultivated by Welch and his colleagues, and for years, a portion of the sales was contributed to benefit the replanting of Louisiana’s public garden spaces.

Reasons to Love ‘Peggy Martin’

There are so many reasons to love this amazing rose, and it was difficult to narrow it down, but here are my top 11 reasons why you should give the Peggy Martin rose a place in your garden.

Vigorous Growth Habit

A close-up of a blooming climbing rose climbing a brick wall near the front white door. The bush is large, tall, has long branches covered with dark green compound pinnate leaves with serrated edges and clusters of pale pink double flowers.
This is a fast-growing variety that will cover the trellis in a relatively short time.

This rose is a fast grower and it can get quite large in a relatively short time. With an average growth rate of 6’-15’ per year, it will take no time at all for this climbing rose to completely cover a trellis, or whatever structure you choose to grow it on. A gazebo would be breathtaking covered in this glorious vining rose.

Although most nurseries have this plant listed as growing vines up to 15’ tall, we know from Peggy’s personal account that her vine reached lengths of 30’-40’ long, covering her 4-bay garden shed in just a few years.

Amazing Resilience

Climbing rose blooming in the sunny garden. Close-up of four small double flowers with soft pink petals arranged in several layers.
This rose has become a symbol of the resilience of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

This wonderful plant is so incredibly resilient, it has become a symbol of the resilience of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina. Most plants will suffer from the introduction of salt water into their environment.

The sodium and chloride present in dissolved salt absorb quickly into roots, preventing the plant from absorbing other, vital nutrients.

This rose withstood flooding from the Gulf of Mexico (a saltwater body) and was submerged for at least 2 weeks. While the hurricane decimated the foliage of the plant, months after the hurricane, Peggy’s rose was one of only two plants on her property to not only survive but show signs of thriving despite the conditions in the aftermath of the storm.

Cold Tolerance

Close-up of a flowering branch of a rose bush against the sky. The bush is lush, has complex pinnate leaves consisting of oval dark green leaves with serrated edges. Clusters of delightful soft pink lush double buds hang from the branches.
This rose is quite cold-tolerant and able to survive the winter in zone 4.

This rose has excellent cold tolerance, a well as weathering the hot summers of zone 9. Believe it or not, this rose can survive the winters of zone 4, with a cold tolerance down to -28.8°F!

While most roses are tolerant of temperatures down to 10°F, Peggy blows this number out of the water, surviving some of the coldest winters in the United States.

This is wonderful news for rose enthusiasts in the North. While this vine will lose its leaves in the winter, it should come back as strong as ever as soon as the temperatures rise in early spring.

Just before this rose grows its leaves back is the ideal time to prune, to manage frost damage, and maximize growth without sacrificing blooms.

Pest and Disease Resistant

Rose blooming in a sunny summer garden. The bush is large, consists of many branches with beautiful dark green leaves with serrated edges and small, lush, soft pink flowers with slightly ruffled petals and golden stamens.
This rose is both pest and disease resistant.

A simple search for pests and diseases to look out for will lead you on a wild goose chase, as Peggy is truly a sturdy plant that is rarely affected by these destructive forces.

If you give her too much water for an extended period, you may deal with some root rot issues, but otherwise, this is one plant that you can genuinely plant and forget it. Although, it will be difficult to overlook such a lovely and fast-growing rose vine.

Drought Tolerance

Close-up of a climbing rose along a green fence in a garden. The plant is large, lush, consists of many hanging stems covered with green compound pinnate leaves consisting of oval toothed leaflets. Beautiful lush clusters of pink double flowers gracefully hang from the branches.
This rose variety tolerates heat well and is resistant to wet soil.

Peggy is a true Southern Belle; in that, she tolerates the heat of summer with all the dignity and grace of the Junior League president. While it is surprisingly tolerant of moist soil for short periods of time, in the long term, well-drained soil will see this rose showing off her best growth and blooms.

In times of drought, this variety appreciates supplemental irrigation. Watering once per week should be plenty to keep her going though, this plant won’t require any negotiating with the water management department.


Lush flowering rose, close-up. The plant has beautiful lush clusters of small pink double flowers with slightly ruffled petals.
This variety has a light pleasant aroma.

The scent of a rose is one of the most popular ingredients in fragrances the world over. It is safe to say that when it comes to fragrant flowers, the classic rose scent is one that few people find off-putting.

I can’t say that this will be the most fragrant rose in your garden (unless perhaps it is the only rose in your garden). However, the flowers do have a light, pleasing fragrance, and due to the sheer volume of flowers, they will throw fragrance quite nicely when it is in full bloom.

Ornamental Foliage

Close-up of a flowering rose bush in the garden. The bush climbs the trellis. The plant has dense vegetation, spreading thornless branches, covered with small pinnately compound leaves, consisting of oval leaflets with serrated edges. Beautiful clusters of double pale pink flowers with yellow stamens in the centers hang from the branches.
The foliage of ‘Peggy Martin’ is small and rather dense.

The first thing I noticed about ‘Peggy Martin’ is the attractive and delicate foliage. As a climbing rose, the leaves on this plant are small and the vegetation is quite dense. The new growth comes in pink and quickly turns green, leaving only the borders of the newer leaves with a rosy hue.

The newest stems will also display the same pink as the leaves and the overall effect is a very soft and pretty growth habit that has a warm glow at the tips of the branches.

The foliage is dense and has plenty of movement. A gentle breeze will create a gentle, dancing about of the branch tips. The overall appearance of the plant is lush and just a little wild.

Prolific Bloomer

A large lush, profusely flowering rose bush against a blue sky. The bush has dark green foliage and many small, lush, double flowers growing in clusters.
This variety blooms with excellent small double flowers growing in clusters.

‘Peggy Martin’ is a standout when it comes to blooming habits. In the spring, the entire vine can be covered in sweet, petite pink rose blooms.

The flowers grow in clusters, with the highest concentration of blooms where the plant gets the greatest amount of light. Even the more shaded portions of the vine will see a decent number of blooms, though.

Once mature, if this rose is happy and thriving, it will do something very special indeed. A second bloom is not only possible, but it can also be expected to re-bloom in the fall as the weather cools. The blooming will take a pause during the hottest months of summer but will resume when temperatures start to drop.

Tolerant of Humidity

Close-up of rose bush in bloom in a sunny garden. The bush is large, lush, covered with small dark green leaves with serrated edges and lush double flowers, consisting of many layers of slightly ruffled pink petals.
This rose variety is resistant to rot and tolerates humidity levels of 80-90%.

The climate in Louisiana is humid and hot, and typically, the soil reflects these things by being moist, and in some cases, downright swampy. In short, it is not ideal for the roots of a rose plant. This rose defies all the odds, as it not only tolerates these conditions, it flourishes in them.

The ideal humidity level for most roses is between 60-70%, which is relatively high, but summertime in the south can see levels of 80-90% for weeks on end. ‘Peggy Martin’ is very tolerant of these conditions and resistant to rot, making it a wonderful rose for humid, Southern climates.

Pollinator Friendly

Bottom view, close-up of a climbing rose against a blue sky, in a sunny garden. The plant has small, complex-pinnate leaves of dark green color, consisting of oval leaves with serrated edges, and lush, double buds, consisting of rounded pale pink petals, arranged in several layers, exposing golden stamens.
This rose provides tons of nectar for bees and butterflies.

Pollinators love roses of all kinds, and due to the sheer volume of blooms on this rose, it will provide tons of nectar for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Bees will find this rose particularly appealing as the blooms are small and the fully opened roses have exposed pollen.

The massive quantity of blooms is an advantage to pollinators, as most of them prefer to collect as much nectar in as small a space as possible.

Most pollinators will be attracted to the fragrance of these roses, and they will love that they don’t have to travel much to satisfy their dietary needs.

Thornless Variety

Close-up of a rose bush climbing up the house with a blurry background. The bush has climbing stems covered with small, complex pinnate dark green leaves and clusters of double pink flowers.
The stems of this climbing rose do not have thorns.

‘Peggy Martin’ is billed as a thornless rose, although some would argue that there are very slight thorns on the back of the leaves.

These tiny thorns might be a tad bit scratchy, but they really don’t do much damage. The stems of this vine, however, are indeed thornless, making it much easier to handle and prune.

Final Thoughts

The ‘Peggy Martin’ or Hurricane Katrina rose is not just a pretty face. It is a symbol of the strength and resilience of the people of Plaquemines, and all hurricane survivors. This wonderfully strong, and enchanted rose has a bit of magic in it. That alone is reason enough for me, and I can’t wait to see how ‘Peggy Martin’ performs in my garden.

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