University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
CHOOSING HARDY ROSES
Dr. Leonard Perry,
University of Vermont
many roses on the market, where does one begin in choosing plants
survive in our northern gardens? You
might begin with named series of hardy roses, either ones from the
or some of the more recent introductions.
series include the Buck and Brownell roses.
Dr. Griffith Buck bred roses in Iowa from the 1940's into the
most of which are hardy into zone 4 (-20 to -30 degrees F). One of
the better known is the deep pink
'Carefree Beauty'. Performing well in
Vermont has been 'Prairie Princess'-- light pink flowers with light
resemble hybrid teas, and the plants are disease resistant. Dr.
Walter Brownell, an amateur breeder in
Rhode Island, released his "Sub Zero" roses during the 1930's and
1940's. These, such as the pink 'Nearly
Wild', generally grow into zone 5 (-10 to -20 degrees F). Most are
based on one species (wichuriana), although you often find
them equated to hardy hybrid teas.
Brownell roses tend to have resistance to blackspot, repeat blooms,
include pillar types.
series from the Morden agriculture experiment station in Manitoba,
the 1940's was the "Prairie" series, including 'Prairie Dawn', which
has survived well in zone 5a (warmer part of zone 5) in Vermont.
These were based on native prairie
species. A later series from there, the
"Parkland" series, has roses often with Morden in the name.
Examples from this Parkland series that have
survived in Vermont zone 5a are 'Morden Ruby' and 'Morden
Snowbeauty', as well
as 'Prairie Joy'.
Canadian series, the "Explorer" series, was bred beginning in
in 1961 by Dr. Felicitas Svejda, and with final breeding in Quebec
in the 1990's. These are generally
considered among the hardiest rose series, are very disease
resistant, and are
named after famous Canadian explorers who, themselves, survived
winters. Most show good disease
resistance. Many are cultivars from the
Rugosa species (rugosa), or those
from the newer German Kordes species (kordesii).
Alberta, Canada in the 1940's and 1950's, horticulturist George
Bugnet (said as
boon-yay) was releasing his hybrids, named after family members.
These combine various species from Alberta,
or often Rugosa roses, as well as a double wild Kamchitka rose from
David Austin series of roses, from over 50 years of breeding in
to combine the flowers and fragrance of old roses with vigor,
resistance, and repeat blooms of modern roses.
These are often termed "romantic" roses, reflecting flowers of
the past in appearance but flowers of today in their performance.
Most of these have proven very marginal and
unreliably hardy in our Vermont zone 5a, a couple of the more hardy
'Constance Spry' and 'Redoute'.
"romantic" roses, but from the famous rose breeding company Meilland
in France is the Romantica series, also listed as growing into zone
were released in the 1990's with European names, such as the yellow
'Michelangelo' or the dark red 'Traviata'.
The Sunblaze series of miniature roses, also bred by Meilland, is
as growing into zone 5b (colder part of zone 5).
Meidiland and Carefree series were among the first to define a new
"landscape roses"-- those for massing in landscapes that are
generally low-growing, require little care, and have repeat
blooming. These often have shown winter injury or
failure to survive in zone 5a in Vermont.
While most have Meidiland in their names, Bonica in 1982 was the
in this series and has pink, double flowers.
Use it as a shrub for borders or 2- to 3-foot high hedge. It is
worth mention as it often survives in zone 4,
perhaps colder if good snow cover, and was voted the World's
Favorite rose in 1997.
established rose firm in France, Roseraie Guillot, released their
"romantic" Generosa series in the 1990's, but generally only hardy
warmer parts of zone 6 (not much below 0 degrees F), these are not
Vermont. (This is the same firm that
introduced the first hybrid tea rose, 'La France', in 1867. This is
considered the turning point, roses
developed after then termed "modern".)
1980's the Pavement series of landscape roses was bred by Karl Baum
"pavement" being a loose translation of the German for bedding.
These Rugosa shrub roses have strong fragrance,
repeat bloom, large colorful fall hips, are hardy to zone 3, and are
resistant. They may be found by the German
cultivar names, such as 'Rotes Meer' for 'Purple Pavement'.
1990's, from the Tesselaar firm in Australia, came the Flower Carpet
ground cover or landscape roses. More
recent breeding in this series has added heat and humidity tolerance
flowering and disease resistance.
They'll generally survive into zone 6, perhaps zone 5 with reliable
snow or other
Knock Out series has become one of the most popular and known
series, good in hedges or massed. The
Knock Out roses generally grow 3-to 4-feet high and wide, and may
zone 5 (although they are often listed for zone 4 and may grow there
protection). Examples from this series
are the original cherry red Knock Out, the light pink Blushing Knock
the Double Pink Knock Out. These are
found in most retailers, all originally bred by William Radler of
(reflected in the true cultivar names, such as 'Radrazz' for the
name of Knock Out).
of Germany is one of the best known rose breeding firms in the
world, and has released many roses over the years. Most grow into
zone 6, some into warmer parts
of zone 5. They have released several
"romantic" series such as the Fairy Tale roses with choices such as
the double pink Cinderella or Pomponella, and the floribunda types
Veranda series. They have released
several series of landscape roses including the compact and mounded
roses, or the trailing Vigorosa roses.
Kordes most important contributions dates to 1952, and the
introduction of a
new species (kordesii). While this species by itself made
impact, it did have impact in many breeding programs including the
series from Canada, as with the cultivar 'Frontenac'. Cultivars of
this new species often are not
hardy past zone 6, but those bred from this species often are more
good disease resistance, shiny foliage, and define the Kordesii rose
the most recent series are the Northern Accents and Easy Elegance
roses from a
Minnesota nursery. These may grow into
zone 5, a few having been grown in zone 4 in Vermont with poor
results. The Garden Treasures are relatively new
miniature roses from California, listed as growing into zone 4b.
The relatively new Drift landscape roses are
sold as groundcovers, reaching 1-2 feet high and 3-4 feet wide.
They're good massed, are good in the hot
South, and are listed as growing into zone 5.
individual roses or those in company brands continue to be released,
particularly as either "romantic" or "landscape"
roses. Make sure to check their
hardiness from multiple sources if buying online, or check with
on their recommendations. You can find
the most recent USDA hardiness zone map online