Selecting Hardy Roses

The best way to have success growing roses is to select hardy varieties that do well in our zone. Another huge factor is getting them off to the right start and planting them in our gardens where they will get enough sunlight (6 or more hours of direct sun per day). Roses will most likely survive in the shade, but they will be stressed and not produce many flowers.

Anyone can grow roses … if you can grow a petunia, you can grow a rose. Really! We are so lucky to have so many beautiful varieties available now that were bred to be disease resistant and hardy in zone 5 / 6 with little winter protection.

How Do I Choose The Right Roses?

Well, before you start digging a hole, do some research first. This makes a world of difference to your success rate. Don’t rush into choosing a rose on a whim that you saw at the local home improvement center, or on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store. Take a deep breath…and think about the type of rose, how big it will get at maturity (very important), the rose’s characteristics, and where you have room to plant it.

Go home and look up the rose in a trusted book or website. Make sure it is winter hardy in zone 5 & 6. All roses have a tag on them listing the zones they do well in. You don’t want to spend $30 or more on a rosebush that acts like an annual (one season and done). You want to enjoy it for many years to come.

Take Time To Stop and Smell the Roses…

I highly recommend you look around to see which roses appeal to you and are looking great in your area. Take a walk in the neighborhood. If you see a stunning rose, ask what type it is. Most gardeners would be happy to share information with you! (and they will be pleased you noticed their pride & joy garden)

Another thing I suggest is to view a variety of roses that are healthy and happy, go to your local botanical garden or horticultural park. Roses that thrive in these places should also do well for you. If you see any roses there that seem unhappy or sickly despite good care…you can cross them off of your list.

Recently I spent a few hours at a public rose garden close to home (Cantigny Gardens in Wheaton, IL). It was a real treat and a feast for the eyes to see so many different roses at the peak of blooming! The photos above are some of my favorite hardy roses. I noted the ones doing the best, very vibrant, full of blooms, with healthy green leaves. Interestingly enough, they were primarily floribundas, grandifloras, and shrub roses.

You may be scratching your head right now thinking “what the heck is she talking about?”

Here’s a quick definition of these three types:

Floribundas – Cluster-flowered roses that evolved slowly during the first half of the twentieth century. They’re small to medium-sized rounded shrubs with a healthy complement of foliage. Since most floribunda buds open sequentially, a cluster can have young buds, ripe buds showing color, freshly opened flowers, fading flowers, and spent flowers, all at the same time. That’s a whole lot going on!

Grandifloras – Typically taller than floribundas with larger flowers on longer stems and in smaller clusters. Plus all the buds in a cluster open at the same time. This rose classification originated in the 1950’s with the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose (still a strong seller today). It was viewed as too tall for a floribunda, but with blooms not quite substantial enough to be a hybrid tea rose.

Shrub Roses – This class includes many of the popular name-branded roses available today bred for disease resistance and cold tolerance including: Knock Out Roses, Flower Carpet Roses, Oso Easy Roses, Simplicity Roses, and David Austin’s English Roses. Others lumped in this category are rugosas and hybrid musks. It’s a broad category…they may have small flowers in large clusters, or they may have large blooms on long, straight stems. When I think “shrub roses”, healthy and tough come to mind.

Here are some of my favorite hardy floribunda roses:

‘Betty Prior’ – This was the first floribunda I planted. Betty blooms profusely throughout the season until frost, with large clusters of charming 3-inch single petaled, slightly fragrant flowers in deep pink…fading to an overall medium pink. A great choice for group planting in a large border.

‘Julia Child’ – Personally chosen by the award-winning chef herself, this floribunda with beautiful buttery yellow blooms has a sweet licorice scent that exudes from each fully-petaled flower. An easy to grow stand-out in any garden!

‘Iceberg’ – A very attractive and popular white floribunda rose. In cooler weather the flowers may be blushed with a hint of pink. It blooms well all season and is an excellent cut flower.

‘Livin Easy’ – An award-winning floribunda noted for a long display of double blossoms that blend apricot, salmon, and orange. Gorgeous and very disease resistant!

Buy Hardy Roses Here…Choose From All Types At Excellent Prices

Here are some of my favorite hardy grandiflora roses:

‘Queen Elizabeth’ – The first grandiflora rose has small clusters of large, double, high-centered fragrant rich pink flowers. Provides a lot of cuttable blooms all summer long.

‘Cherry Parfait’ – This newer grandiflora looks as yummy as its name! Picture a thick helping of cherry pie filling on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This bicolor beauty boasts beautiful large flowers. Absolutely striking in a mass planting.

‘Tournament of Roses’ – Introduced in 1988 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famous New Year’s Day parade in Pasadena, CA. Lovely two-toned pink flowers on this easy to grow impressive shrub.

‘Ebb Tide’ – If you love purple…you’ll go crazy for this rose. Dusky, deep purple, very double blooms that are certain to attract attention. Delightfully strong spicy clove fragrance.

Here are some of my favorite hardy shrub roses:

‘Carefree Beauty’ – The first shrub rose I planted in my garden. A very popular, disease resistant, easy to grow work horse. Small clusters of large semi-double, fragrant blossoms in a rosy pink. The blooms are followed by large, attractive, round orange hips.

‘Mystic Fairy’ – Irresistible blooms of rich red cover this shrub rose in massive clusters all summer long. This compact, vigorous shrub rose is resistant to both blackspot and mildew. The flowers darken as they age and last a long time.

‘My Girl’ – Quite the charmer, perfectly round and adorable deep pink buds open to full, ruffly blossoms. A compact shrub with an upright habit. Very easy to grow and prolific.

‘Graham Thomas’ – Named for the noted English rosarian and author, this shrub rose presents small clusters of large double flowers in a rich golden yellow. The fragrance has been described as sweet and watermelon-like.

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Category: Roses