Hardy Roses

This is a guest blog from the Northern Gardener.org.

‘William Baffin’ is a climbing rose from the Canadian Explorer series.

While many Minnesotans grow hybrid tea roses for their incomparable beauty, hardy shrub roses will grow well in almost any sunny yard and are one of the great plants for northern gardens.

By hardy, we mean roses that grow in USDA Zones 3 or 4 with little or no covering through the winter. They should be disease-resistant enough to require minimal spraying, and, of course, they should bloom like crazy. We’re looking for roses that need fertilizer, water and a spring pruning, but that’s all. Fortunately for northern gardeners, several plant breeders have worked over the years to come up with truly hardy roses for northern climates.

‘Charles Albanel’

Among the earliest and most popular are the Canadian Explorer series of roses developed in Manitoba and named for the tough men who conquered the Canadian wilderness. These roses require minimal pruning, can stand up to -35 F, and come in a variety of sizes  and colors. There’s the petite ‘Charles Albanel’, with its deep pink blooms that come in waves all summer. For a climbing rose, you cannot get any easier or tougher than ‘William Baffin’, which grows 8 feet tall and resists most diseases. ‘Jens Munk’ is another popular explorer roses. Here is a list of each of the explorers and their care requirements.

Northern Accents ‘Sven’ blooms wildly in the MSHS garden at the Minnesota State Fair.

More recently, the University of Minnesota has introduced the Northern Accents series, largely developed by Kathy Zuzek, a horticulturist and popular garden speaker. The roses include ‘Ole’, ‘Sven’, ‘Lena’ and introduced in 2011, ‘Sigird’. These ever-blooming shrub roses are covered with flowers all summer, and they stand up beautifully to Minnesota winters. As late as mid-October, many of these roses were still blooming.

Other hardy roses are the old garden roses or the rugosa roses. Sir Thomas Lipton is a no-fail rugosa with lovely white blooms that gets very tall. Harrison’s Yellow and Lillian Gibson (a pink) are also highly recommended, as is Therese Bugnet, a fragrant pink rose. Unlike the hardy shrub roses, these plants put out a flush of bloom in early summer, then bloom only sporadically after that.

To grow well, hardy shrub roses need ample water, regular fertilization (once monthly from April to August is recommended) and good air circulation. There’s no need to tip or cover them in winter, but you likely will have some die-back and will want to cut back canes in spring.

What are your favorite hardy roses?

Thanks to the Northern Gardener for these hardy rose tips. If you would like to read more from the Northern Gardener follow the link below:



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About Tom McKusick 30 Articles
It is the mission of MSHS to serve Northern gardeners through education, encouragement, and community. Through a variety of educational programs, classes and conferences, and by publishing an award-winning magazine, Northern Gardener, MSHS helps its members and the general public to be better gardeners in USDA plant hardy Zones 3, 4 and 5. MSHS’ plant donation network, Minnesota Green, started in 1988, serves the greening efforts of volunteer gardeners throughout the state. Minnesota Green promotes grassroots efforts to revitalize communities by coordinating the donation and distribution of nurseries and greenhouse’s flowers and trees to be planted in public spaces statewide. MSHS was formed in 1866, as an association of fruit growers who took on the challenge of growing apples and other fruits in a northern climate. Two years later, the association became the Minnesota State Horticultural Society to recognize the importance of all phases of horticulture development in rural and urban Minnesota. In 1873, the Minnesota Legislature approved an act providing for the publication and distribution of 2000 copies of all the transactions of the society. 1894 marked the birth of one of the longest continually published horticultural magazines in the country: Northern Gardener, formerly known as Minnesota Horticulturist.