Zone 4 climbing roses

How To Grow Climbing Roses?

Training:

For the first year or two, climbers should be trained in the direction you want them to grow; pruning only to remove dead or diseased branches. This will allow the plant to establish itself and expand at the base for a fuller appearance.

Pruning:

After the first year or two, you can begin lightly pruning as needed in late winter to early spring for maintenance and shape; this will also help promote new growth. The main canes that come directly from the base should never be pruned, as climbers put energy into growing first and flowering second. Therefore, if energy is spent to regrow the main canes, it won’t flower. The lateral canes produce the flowers and lightly pruning these will encourage blooming. There’s no need to prune to outward-facing buds (like on shrub varieties), as climbing roses grow randomly anyway. These lateral canes can be lightly pruned any time of the year in order to keep the climber in shape. Major pruning is best done after it has finished blooming for the year – this timing will vary depending on the variety. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) will encourage more flowering on repeat-blooming varieties. For more information on pruning, see Pruning Climbing Roses.

Watering:

Climbing roses prefer consistent, regular watering; water deeply in the first year to establish roots. Mornings are best. Water at the base of the plant. Be careful not to overwater your roses, as they are more susceptible to fungal diseases if their feet are wet.

Amendments & Fertilizer:

Feed with a time-release fertilizer in early spring, before new growth begins. Water before and after feeding to prevent burning. A few inches of mulch around the base of the plant will help retain moisture through the warmer weather. Add some more mulch in the late fall, piling it up around the base of the plant to provide extra winter insulation. Remove the excess mulch when the ground begins to warm in the spring.

Diseases and Pests:

While most climbing roses offer better disease resistance than their shrubby cousins, they are still susceptible to blackspot, anthracnose, powdery mildew, rust and other fungal problems caused by too much water, humidity and heat. They can also be the target of pests such as aphids, scale, whiteflies and rose cucurlio weevil. A strong jet of water gets rid of a lot of aphids and whitefly or you can try the sticky yellow cards that physically trap insects. Lastly, insecticidal soap acts quickly and on contact to get rid of rose pests. However, remember that pesticides don’t discriminate, so it is best not to use them when bees or other beneficial insects are present. Keeping the ground around the base of the plant clear of dead leaves and flowers will help prevent disease and pest infestations. Choosing a location with full sun and good air circulation will also help keep your plant healthy.

Other:

Roses are listed as non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses on the ASPCA Plant List. Rose buds have been referred to as “deer candy” and young green growth (when the thorns are still semi-soft) is also a favorite.

“You don’t want to be the slave of some plant, do you?” Allen Paterson was director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton when he asked me that years ago. I’d inquired if, for the winter, I needed to tip over and bury my new rosebushes, as some books advised. His instant response was: “Heavens, no. Do what’s convenient for you. If they die, they die. Next year you plant something else.”

That’s good advice for gardeners who want to grow a few nice rosebushes in their yards but don’t want to be slaves to them. And happily, the top rose breeders now want these gardeners’ business. Canada’s Explorer and Parkland roses have become international successes because they’re winter-hardy and easy to grow. And Europe’s biggest rose nursery, W. Kordes & Sons, in Germany, whose hybrids sell across Canada, won’t put a new rose in its catalogue until it has survived several years in open fields near the North Sea, unprotected from cold, diseases and wildlife.

Still, choosing 10 roses can be tough. Here’s how I made my selections.

• Hardiness. All but one are cold-hardy to at least Zone 5.
• Resistance to mildew, common pests and diseases.
• Availability. Most are available through several mail-order suppliers and should also be readily available in large garden centres.
• Variety, in both shrub form and colour. Obtaining colour variety is trickier than you’d think. Very hardy roses are almost always pink. Hardy reds are tough to find, and yellows are next to impossible (there’s a weakness gene that comes with the yellowness), so the yellow ‘Sunsprite’ is more exceptional than its modest looks suggest.

My list includes no hybrid tea roses. Why not? Hybrid teas, the darlings of rose society competitions, look great in vases and photographs but less great in gardens – they’re all legs and very finicky. As well, many hybrid teas lack fragrance. Most of the selections here come up smelling like a rose.

Page 1 of 3 – Discover the first 5 rose varieties that will thrive in your garden on page 2.

1. John Cabot (Shrub/climber, 2 m high x 2 m wide)
Introduced to the market 20 years ago, this was the first of the great Explorer roses hybridized by Felicitas Svejda for Agriculture Canada. A sprawly shrub easily trained as a climber, ‘John Cabot’ produces fragrant multipetalled, 7.5-centimetre-wide flowers, first and most prolifically in June, then sporadically until freeze-up. Field-tested in Ottawa since 1970, it’s resistant to mildew and black spot and hardy to Zone 3. It also tolerates the Prairies’ high summer temperatures well.
2. Ballerina (Hybrid Musk, 120 cm high x 120 cm wide)
As enchanting as its name suggests, ‘Ballerina’ begins the season dense with mop-headed clusters of small (three centimetres across) blossoms, then keeps them coming, a bit less densely, all season. It prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade as well as such other hardships as polluted city air and heavy or stony soil. As its category suggests, ‘Ballerina’ has a seductive musky fragrance. Close cousin ‘Mozart’ is more vibrantly red. ‘Ballerina’ is hardy to Zone 5 if planted in a sheltered spot rather than an exposed one where winter winds are bad.

3. The Fairy (Polyantha, 60 cm high x 120 cm wide)
‘The Fairy’ is a vigorous, low-growing landscape rose known for its dense, cushion-forming habit and impressive spread, which can be more than double its height. Not quite a ground cover, but close, it’s ideal for small gardens. It’s also the world’s favourite polyantha (dwarf) rose thanks to its season-long production of small (2.5 centimetres across) blossoms. It rarely gets sick and is reliably hardy, unprotected, to -15ºC, or to Zone 5. Gardeners who live in areas colder than Zone 5 should mulch well and preferably plant it near a south-facing stone or brick wall for the reflected heat and shelter from north winds.
4. Morden Blush (Shrub, 90 cm high x 90 cm wide)
Of the winter-hardy roses bred at Agriculture Canada’s Morden (Man.) Research Station, ‘Morden Blush’ is best for those places that not only have severe winters but hot summers. It is, therefore, the Morden hybrid that’s most widely sold in southern Canadian garden centres but its lightly fragrant blossoms can also be found in places as cold as Zone 2. After a big early show, the flowers repeat throughout the season.
5. Iceberg (Floribunda, 120 cm high x 120 cm wide)
In 1983 the World Federation of Rose Societies voted this the world’s favourite rose – for good reason. Given diligent deadheading, a bush will produce wave after wave of bloom in clusters of three to seven flowers, each one about 7.5 centimetres across. Nearly thornless, somewhat shade-tolerant and only mildly susceptible to black spot, its main drawback is a relatively weak fragrance. Cold-hardy to Zone 4, ‘Iceberg’ keeps flowering until frosts get serious.

Page 2 of 3 – Find five more rose varieties that thrive in Canadian gardens on page 3.

6. Lavaglut (Floribunda, 120 cm high x 120 cm wide)
Remarkably heat- and cold-tolerant for a red rose, ‘Lavaglut’ has been known to survive winters to -35ºC in Estonia but has also been recorded blooming at 42ºC in California and Texas. The American Rose Society gives it a very high rating for its pest and disease resistance as well as for the fact that its large, velvety flowers last well, even in high heat. ‘Lavaglut’ is also marketed under the names ‘Lavaglow’ and ‘Intrigue’. It’s generally hardy to Zone 4 with protection.
7. Sunsprite (Floribunda, 60 cm high x 60 cm wide)
‘Sunsprite’ is outstanding among modern hybrids for both its fragrance and, for a yellow rose, its hardiness and disease resistance. The Kordes family, who bred it, call it ‘Friesia’, a name that sometimes appears in catalogues, too. It blooms in profusion throughout the season, though its cousin ‘Sun Flare’ is often used in places where summers get hot since ‘Sunsprite’ prefers cooler climes. It’s hardy to Zone 5 with protection.
8. Grusse an Aachen (Floribunda, 75 cm high x 45 cm wide)
Long unclassified, ‘Grusse an Aachen’, which means “Greetings to Aachen,” is a precursor to David Austin’s popular English roses. It’s also regarded as the first floribunda (large clusters of ever-blooming flowers) and one of the world’s current favourite garden roses. The blossoms, up to 10 centimetres across, open creamy white, then shift to salmon. Spring and fall produce big flushes against dark green foliage, but flowers appear throughout the season, sweetly but subtly fragrant. Fungus-resistant and hardy to -15ºC (Zone 5), it blooms with as little as four to five hours of direct sun daily.
9. Stanwell Perpetual (Old garden rose, 150 cm high x 180 cm wide)*
The oldest rose listed here, ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ has enchanted garden visitors for more than 160 years, especially in spring, when its blossoms all but smother the bush. A great hedging rose with lots of thorns, it has a rich scent in flower; even its leaves are scented, smelling of dill when wet. Flushes of bloom repeat through October. Hardy to Zone 3, it withstands frosts to -25ºC. It may attract beetles and black spot but is generally trouble-free.
10. Zéphirine Drouhin (Bourbon, climber, up to 2 m in height)
With its almost thornless canes and climbing habit, this is the best rose for growing on pergolas and trellis gates, where skin or fabrics might brush against a plant. These structures are also ideal for showcasing its fine fragrance. ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ has major flushes of bloom in spring and fall, with smaller ones between. It’s slightly susceptible to mildew and black spot. Though it’s hardy in Canada to Zone 6, wrap climbing canes in burlap for winter unless they’re very well sheltered.
Shopping tips: Buy Canadian; Canadian growers use hardier rootstock. If possible shop in person and choose the healthiest plants. Plant so the graft to the rootstock is at least five centimetres below soil level – not above it, as English and American gardening books recommend. After hard winters, prune away deadwood.
Page 3 of 3

Roses are the most classic flower to include in a garden. They’re prolific bloomers, fragrant and colorful.

With a little care and maintenance, you’re only a few steps away from success. Yet the ideal conditions for growing roses aren’t always there. We have you covered. Here are the best roses for each situation.

Learn how to plant roses with Laura from Garden Answer.

Roses for Full Sun

Roses thrive in full sun. When they get anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of sun a day, they bloom vibrantly and to their fullest. Any variety will be spectacular when grown in these conditions. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and with the right care, can come back to thrive year after year. Feed your roses monthly with Espoma’s Organic Rose-tone to ensure proper growth.

While all roses thrive in the sun, our favorites are…

Sunblaze® Miniature Roses

You can’t go wrong with any variety of the Sunblaze miniature roses. The name says it all and these sun-loving beauties won’t let you down.

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Autumn Sunblaze® is the perfect variety to showcase this summer. It is a miniature rose, so it is ideal for a beautiful container. Put that container in the full sun for these roses to thrive!

PLANT TYPE: Miniature Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Orange

FLOWERS: Small, 40 petals

FOLIAGE: Glossy

FRAGRANCE: Slight

GROWTH HABIT: Bushy

HARDINESS ZONE: 5 – 11

HEIGHT: 12-15″

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 15″

Sunny Knock Out® rose is beautiful in full sun. As the name implies, the blooms are a bright yellow that fade into a cream color from center to petal. It’ll stay bright and colorful even as cooler months approach.

PLANT TYPE: Miniature Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Yellow to cream
FLOWERS: Abundant and continuous
FOLIAGE: Dark green, semi-glossy

FRAGRANCE: Slight
GROWTH HABIT: Bushy
HARDINESS ZONE: 4–11

HEIGHT: 3–4’

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 3–5’

Container Roses

Want to have a beautiful rose garden, but don’t have the space in your garden to include them? Turn to containers! As long as the containers are placed in full sun, they will thrive.

Some roses are too big to plant in containers, but miniature varieties work well for smaller spaces. Don’t be fooled, just because they are miniature doesn’t mean they aren’t spectacular.

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Rainbow Sunblaze® is a great variety for any summer garden. The petals are multicolored, which will help them stand out anywhere you plant them. Pair them with a beautiful container and it will be the talk of the neighborhood.

PLANT TYPE: Miniature Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Multicolored

FLOWERS: Small, 25-30 petals

FOLIAGE: Semi-glossy

FRAGRANCE: No Fragrance

GROWTH HABIT: Upright

HARDINESS ZONE: 5 – 11

HEIGHT: 12-18″

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 18″

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Sweet Sunblaze® is a beautiful variety to add to any container in your space. This rose, introduced in 1987, has gentle pink blooms that add softness to your garden. Pair with an edgy container for a striking contrast or with a neutral container for a more classic look.

PLANT TYPE: Miniature Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Pink

FLOWERS: Small, 26-40 petals

FOLIAGE: Glossy

FRAGRANCE: Slight

GROWTH HABIT: Bushy

HARDINESS ZONE: 5 – 11

HEIGHT: 15-18″

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 18″

Disease Resistant Roses

Some gardens and plants are more susceptible to diseases. Black spot is the most common disease in roses. It is caused by a fungus that spreads from plant to plant and can wipe out an entire garden. Planting disease-resistant roses helps prevent the spread of disease.

We rounded up our favorite roses that are disease resistant.

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Knock Out® Family of Roses

Known for their punch of color, these roses are perfect to add to any sunny garden. Knock Out are disease resistant and love 6-8 hours of sun a day.

PLANT TYPE: Shrub Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Cherry red, hot pink

FLOWERS: Abundant and continuous

FOLIAGE: Deep, purplish green

FRAGRANCE: No Fragrance

GROWTH HABIT: Bushy

HARDINESS ZONE: 5–11

HEIGHT: 3–4’

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 3–4’

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Double Knock Out® Rose

The Double Knock Out gives a double the punch. It has twice as many petals and is offered in a multitude of colors, depending on the variety. You cannot go wrong with these roses.

PLANT TYPE: Shrub Rose

FLOWER COLOR: Cherry red, hot pink

FLOWERS: Abundant, continuous double blooms

FOLIAGE: Deep, purplish green

FRAGRANCE: No Fragrance

GROWTH HABIT: Bushy

HARDINESS ZONE: 5–11

HEIGHT: 3–4’

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full Sun

SPREAD: 3–4’

Featured in this Post:

Top Roses for the Midwest

Between fighting foliar diseases and cold winter temperatures, gardeners in the Midwest need to choose wisely to benefit from the fabulous roses available today. Freezing weather can cause grafted roses to fail — the aboveground part of the plant dies off, and the rootstock, which is not really the flower you want, sends up stems and takes over. Get around the worry of graft failure by planting own-root roses, so that whatever happens during a bad winter, the stems that well-established plants send up will bloom with the flowers you want.

Everyone loves a fabulous rose, but no one wants to put up with ugly, diseased foliage that detracts from what should be a magnificent summer show. Fortunately, even in the black-spot-prone areas of the Midwest, gardeners can find excellent choices of shrub and climbing roses that will add the look and fragrance you long for. Kansas City rosarian Arlyn Silvey shared some of the best to try.

Shrub roses play a key role in the garden, because they can stand alone or be combined with perennials and other shrubs. ‘Paloma Blanca’, a shrub with double white, cup-shape flowers in clusters, will turn heads — and noses — with its fragrance.

‘Carefree Beauty’ (Zone 4) puts out its double medium-pink flowers all summer. The flowers are fragrant and good-sized — about 4 inches across. You’ll have the added benefit of orange hips to decorate the winter landscape.

Image zoom

Carefree Wonder (‘Meipitac’), hardy to Zone 4, blooms with fragrant semidouble rich-pink flowers on arching canes. It flowers continually through the season on a smallish-size shrub, just 4 feet high and wide. Glossy green foliage shows off the flowers.

Image zoom

‘Tahitian Sunset’ (Zone 4), a hybrid tea that grows to 5 feet high, brightens any garden with its yellow-orange buds that open to peachy apricot-pink while holding on to some yellow highlights. Its long stems are perfect for cutting, and the flowers — which keep coming — can be 5 inches across. With their strong anise scent, they can make quite a statement.

Image zoom

The David Austin rose Heritage (‘Ausblush’), hardy to Zone 5, looks like a delicate antique variety, but it holds its own against disease. Its cupped antique-pink flowers have an old-fashioned quartered look; the lovely fruity fragrance and soft green foliage complete the perfect picture. Heritage grows about 5 feet high.

Image zoom

Sometimes the elegance of a rose begins before it’s even open. Elle (‘Meibderos’) begins its flowering with delicate pointed buds that open to shell pink with a touch of coral. The hybrid tea has double flowers with a spicy fragrance.

Image zoom

Climbers add another dimension to the garden: up. Even if the rose is a short climber, you can get it to grow over a doorway or arch over a gate. Frederic Mistral (‘Meitbros’), hardy to Zone 7, grows to 7 feet. Its double light pink/mauve flowers have petals that curl back and a fabulous heavy, sweet fragrance — sometimes you can almost hyperventilate, a rose smells so good.

Image zoom

Buff Beauty (Zone 5) produces fragrant double light apricot flowers that fade to yellow. The flowers appear in clusters and repeat through the season. At 8 feet, it can be a short climber over an arbor or at a doorway.

Image zoom

Fourth of July (‘Wekroalt’), hardy to Zone 5, climbs to 14 feet. Its single, cherry-red flowers have white at the base of each petal and a good cluster of yellow stamen in the center. It keeps on blooming and has a sweet scent. Put this on a trellis near the deck so you can enjoy its fragrance.

Image zoom

‘William Baffin’, a climber up to 10 feet tall, withstands cold climate well (Zone 3). Its clusters of fragrant semidouble deep-pink flowers keep on coming through the season. It’s one of the many hardy roses from the Explorer series from Canada; other Zone 3 or 4 Explorer roses include red ‘Alexander Mackenzie’ and pink ‘John Cabot’.

The Knock Out family of roses (Zone 5) often receives high marks around the country (though some gardeners in the coldest parts of the Midwest have troubles with the plants). The roses are disease-resistant, bloom forever (it seems), and come in a good selection of colors. They’re not all fragrant, but sometimes it’s best to choose the right rose for a part of the garden you see more than you smell. All varieties of Knock Out roses grow about 4 feet high and wide, and they can easily be used as a hedge.

The original Knock Out (‘Radrazz’) blooms with semidouble cherry-red flowers; it was joined by the Double Knock Out (‘Radtko’). The Pink Knock Out (‘Radcon’) is a single flower with a bright, perky color, while the flowers of the Double Pink Knock Out (‘Radtkopink’) are full of bubblegum-pink petals.

Blushing Knock Out (‘Radyod’) produces delicate single shell-pink flowers, and the flowers of Sunny Knock Out (‘Radsunny’) — they’re fragrant! — start bright yellow and fade to a buff color. Rainbow Knock Out (‘Radcor’) gives you a color combination: single coral-pink flowers with yellow at the base of each petal.

  • By Marty Wingate

Shrub Roses

What is a shrub rose? A shrub rose is any rose that does not fit into a traditional classification such as hybrid tea, floribunda, miniature or old garden rose. Recently “shrub rose” has incorrectly come to mean “hardy”. In the Midwest shrub roses can be described as hardy, needing little or no winter protection or semi-hardy, requiring winter protection. The semi-hardy roses include the roses of Dr. Griffith Buck, the English Roses of David Austin, the Romantica and Generosa Series. Hardy shrub roses include the rugosas, many old garden and species roses and the Explorer and Parkland Series from Agriculture Canada.

Own Root versus Budded Roses

Own root roses are roses grown on their own roots, similar to most perennials. Budded roses are roses that are grafted to a root stock. If possible purchase own root roses. If the top dies to the ground the roots should produce new canes. If budded roses die to the ground they usually do not come back.

Culture

Most shrub roses do not require as frequent spraying or fertilizing when compared to the modern roses such as hybrid teas and floribundas. For best results water well, fertilize sparingly and mulch heavily.

Winter Protection

Winter protection for semi-hardy roses begins at planting time. To increase the survival rate of semi-hardy roses, plant the bush deeper than normal. This will allow the garden soil to act as additional insulation. Mulching the crown with leaves or straw will help your semi-hardy roses survive the Midwest winters.

Hardy and Semi-hardy

Semi-Hardy Shrub Roses

Griffith Buck Roses Zone 5 some to Zone 4 with minimal winter protection

Applejack, single, pink, fruity fragrance, very hardy, large 6ft.

Aunt Honey, medium pink, mild fragrance, upright 5ft x 4 ft.

Earth Song, deep pink, large hybrid tea type flowers, disease resistant, one of the best, 4ft.

Folksinger, deep yellow when fully open, moderate sweet fragrance, 4ft. x 3 ft.

Hawkeye Belle, honeysuckle pink, fully double 40-45 petals, sweet fragrance, hardy 4ft

Paloma Blanca, white large flower, mild sweet fragrance, 3ft.

Prairie Princess, salmon pink large flowers, large bush, 5-6ft.

Prairie Sunrise, orange gold with light pink, small bush 2.5ft

Prairie Sunset, orange yellow bicolor, upright, 5 ft

Queen Bee, deep cardinal red flowers, long spiny stems, 3 ft.]

Summer Wind, red buds open to vermillion single flower with orange and white center, 3 ft

Winter Sunset, golden yellow flowers with high center, strong fragrance, 4-5 ft.

David Austin English Roses

Abraham Darby, pink to peach blend cupped and quartered, fragrant, 5-5 ft

Constance Spry, the first English Rose, clear pink blooms on large strong canes, one time bloomer, 6-8

Gertrude Jekyll, fully double old rose blooms of bright pink, old rose fragrance, 6 ft

Graham Thomas, deep yellow, fully double, vigorous, slender and upright, one of the best of the English Roses. 6-7 ft

Tamora, Golden yellow with a touch of pink, fragrant, upright, bushy, 3 ft

The Miller, pink, peony like blooms, mrryh fragrance, upright, 5-7 ft.

Winchester Cathedral, white fragrant blooms, fairly hardy, 5 ft

Hardy Shrub Roses

Champlain, bright magenta blooms in clusters, slight mildew, 3-4 ft

Cuthbert Grant, velvety red flowers, strong sweet fragrance, bushy, very hardy, one of the best , 4 ft

DeMontraville, medium pink – 3-4 ft, Shade tolerant

Funny Face, pink blend 2-3 ft

Frontenac, bright pink flowers, bushy and hardy, excellent informal hedge, 4-5 ft

Hope for Humanity, deep rich red, tall, bushy, dark green foliage, 4-5 ft

Marie-Victoria, peach-pink flowers, long, arching canes, small climber, 5 ft

Morden Centennial, large deep pink blooms, strong, vigorous, a must have, 5 ft

Morden Snowberry, white flowers, excellent landscape plant, dies to snow line, 4 ft

Prairie Joy, brilliant pink blooms, upright, tall, disease resistant, very hardy, 5-6 ft

Simon Fraser, medium pink, 2-3 ft

Winnipeg Parks, rose red, tea fragrance, compact bush, 2-3 ft

Climbers

Captain Samuel Holland, deep fuchsia blooms, dark green foliage, 8 ft

Henry Kelsey, med red flowers in clusters, requires support, 6-8 ft

John Cabot, deep pink to fuchsia, blooms profusely in spring, vigorous, 8-10 ft

John Davis, rich pink, profuse in spring, repeats in fall, 6-8 ft

Ramblin Red, red, 6-8 ft, Some dieback but returns well

William Baffin, iridescent pink, blooms in clusters, repeats, does not need support, 8-10 ft

This information is provided to you by the Minnesota Rose Society. For further information, visit our web site at MinnesotaRoseSociety.org

No-Fuss Roses for Cold Zones

After many years of growing mainly fussy and tender hybrid tea roses in rural zone 5, I became discouraged with their failure to do well beyond a season or two. Some seemed to never do well, no matter how well I cared for them. Some would just sit there and not grow or would quickly become naked and ugly from black spot. Reluctant to give up on growing my favorite flower, I did some online research and found information on hardy and easy-to-grow roses.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve experimented with about 300 roses, but I’ve gradually eliminated the ones that didn’t thrive or were disease magnets. After finding out that there were roses beyond the wax-coated varieties you buy locally, I went on a 10-year rose buying frenzy, annually purchasing many varieties of roses, mainly from Pickering, Great Lakes Roses (no longer in business), and Roses Unlimited, and started growing them to see which ones would do well for me.

I haven’t grown many landscape roses because they don’t appeal to me. I’ve only grown two Knock Out roses and a few OSO Easy roses, so I don’t have much experience with the landscape rose category. I prefer roses with full blossoms and have leaned more toward that type of rose, although I have grown many semi-doubles and some singles and I appreciate them as well.

Because of my busy lifestyle, I needed roses that didn’t require a lot of attention. My rose-growing conditions are quite spartan here on our 5 acres, with many roses growing up through sod, in open unsheltered areas, and often under conditions of drought. Our Michigan summers and winters can be very harsh on roses, so I needed some tough ones.

In recent years my roses have been lucky to get one feeding in June, but remember that your roses will produce more blossoms and be much healthier with monthly feedings during the growing season. I like to use a natural slow-release rose food, such as the Espoma Company’s Rose-Tone, and compost.

After a process of elimination, the roses that survived and consistently did well without a lot of babysitting have been mainly rugosas, ramblers, Old Garden Roses, and a select few Dave Austin English roses. Here’s a rundown of the rose varieties I’ve mentioned.
Rosa Rugosa:

I know. I can hear you now. Many people think rugosas are boring, but they actually are divinely fragrant and very disease resistant, and they come in a variety of bush sizes, from ground cover to massive shrubs. Their blossoms range from single to double and some even have lovely fringed edges. In addition, they bloom regularly from spring through late fall without fail. Aside from the standard rugosa varieties, the Canadian Explorer roses and Morden roses, which are shrubs and rugosa cultivars bred specifically for cold zones, are also worth growing.

Rose (Rosa ‘Polareis’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose

Modern Shrub Rose Honorable Mention:

Applejack, a fabulously hardy rose hybridized by Dr. Griffith Buck, grows into a very large shrub with delightful large single pink blossoms that bloom throughout the growing season.

Rose (Rosa ‘Applejack’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose

Old Garden Roses:

These are indeed the most romantic roses, rich in history, and although some may bloom only once a year, such as my beloved Albas, everyone should explore antique roses. I wouldn’t be without my intensely fragrant Alba roses any more than I would be without my once-blooming lilacs or peonies. A wise gardener once compared once-blooming roses to unicorns, saying that even a fleeting glimpse of them would be a sight you’d never forget. That is so true. The OGR category is a rose lover’s fantasy, offering a choice of so many different once-blooming roses and repeat bloomers.

I don’t like to recommend varieties of roses to grow because I feel it is a highly subjective choice, based on your personal preferences and your unique growing conditions, but I do love Queen of Denmark, Pompon Blanc Parfait, and Felicite Parmentier, which are a few of my favorite Albas. I haven’t met one I didn’t like yet, although I have heard some bad reports about Alba crosses, so I would stick to the old standard cultivars. I’ve found Louise Odier, a Bourbon rose, to be cane hardy, and it is the only reblooming large-flowered climber that has done well for me. For sheer breathtaking color and beauty, Charles de Mills and Belle de Crecy, both Gallica roses, are must-haves.

There are so many worthy roses in the OGR category, including species crosses, Moss roses, and Centifolias, so you should experiment with the ones that appeal to you. In my opinion, however, Albas are your best bet for reliable hardiness and intense fragrance.

Tip on once bloomers:

I plant morning glories, which self-sow annually, and clematises next to my once-blooming roses for added interest during the growing season when the roses have finished blooming.

Rose (Rosa ‘Pompon Blanc Parfait’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose
Rose (Rosa ‘Queen of Denmark’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose

David Austin English Roses:

This category of shrub roses is definitely worth exploring for romantic and deliciously fragrant blooms. For reliable hardiness, I prefer many of the older varieties, some of which may no longer be available in commerce, such as Constance Spry, Heritage, Mary Rose, Winchester Cathedral, Cressida, The Dark Lady, and Redoute. I’ve found James Galway, Rose-Marie (a white sport of Heritage), William Shakespeare 2000, Geoff Hamilton, and St. Cecilia to be strong growers as well. If I could grow only one David Austin rose, it would have to be Constance Spry, a huge rambler (once-blooming) with the most magnificent, huge, cabbage blooms and a mouth-watering, unique fragrance.

Rose (Rosa ‘Cressida’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose
Rose (Rosa ‘Constance Spry’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose

Ramblers:

This wonderful category of once-blooming roses is worth trying if you have room for them to grow on a fence or arbor. There are many easy-to-grow ramblers out there, so try some that appeal to you. Most of them put on a spectacular show and are very disease resistant. Lillian Gibson is one I recommend highly. It produces masses of clear, pink blossoms that last at least 4-6 weeks. The rose grows quickly and gets huge, so plant it where it has room to grow. It is thornless or almost thornless and its blood-red canes add winter interest. I had no idea Lillian Gibson would get this big when I planted it by my back door! Needless to say, it gets trimmed severely every year.

Rose (Rosa ‘Lillian Gibson’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose
Rose (Rosa ‘Lillian Gibson’)
Posted by Cottage_Rose

So here’s my advice: Don’t give up on roses, even if you haven’t had good luck with them so far. Do your online homework and try some hardy varieties this growing season.

Happy rose growing from Cottage_Rose!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *