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Hardy roses

Beth R. Jarvis and Sam Brungardt

Hardy roses are ideal for gardeners who love roses but don't want to protect them. While few roses are immune to winter injury, many do not suffer significant dieback. This brief focuses on cultivars and species that suffer little or no dieback or, if grown on their own roots, have the ability to regrow and bloom on new wood after most or all of their tops have been killed by winter cold.

When shopping for hardy roses, ask if the plants are "own root", "grafted" or "budded." Roses growing on their own roots will grow back true to type. When grafted or budded plants send up suckers (canes that sprout from underground), those suckers will likely be from the rootstock rather than the desired cultivar that has been grafted onto the roots.

Don't assume that all shrub roses, old garden roses, species or other hardy roses are grown on their own roots; quite a few hardy roses are grafted or budded. In a cold climate like Minnesota's, "own root" plants are insurance against extraordinarily harsh winters. Their only disadvantage is that some cultivars sucker so profusely that they may spread too much or even become invasive.

Many roses bloom on new wood, which means the flower buds are initiated in spring. A hard winter will not reduce the number of flowers such cultivars produce. Other cultivars, however, bloom on growth with flower buds initiated the previous summer. Flower buds on those roses may be killed in a harsh winter, resulting in little or no bloom the following summer. Many climbing roses fall into this category.


Roses thrive in well-drained soil of any type with a pH of 6.0-7.0. For best results in poorly drained clay soils, make a raised planting area. Spread 2-4 inches of compost or peat over the area to be planted and mix it in well. Dig generous holes to accommodate the plants' roots.

Hardy roses will grow and bloom well if you:

Although many hardy roses are quite disease resistant, you can minimize fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and blackspot if you water only at the base of the plants or wet their foliage early enough in the day so it dries by nightfall. Many rugosa cultivars should not be sprayed with fungicides because the chemicals will burn the foliage and possibly even defoliate them.


minnesota zone map

A number of new hardy roses have been released through two Canadian breeding programs over the past 20-30 years. The "Explorer Series" and "Parkland Series" were developed by Agriculture Canada in Ontario. The developers of these roses intended that they be grown on their own roots so that if their tops were killed by winter cold, they'd be able to send out suckers from their roots in spring and flower on new growth that summer.

A number of other groups of roses touted as "hardy" lack the hardiness to survive most Minnesota winters unprotected. A warmer microclimate, such as along a house wall, may give marginally hardy roses an extra bit of protection and enable them to survive.

The Meidiland (MAY-dee-land) roses are marginally hardy in USDA Zone 4 and need some winter protection. Ferdy, Bonica, Royal Bonica, and Sevillana are part of this series. David Austin's English roses also lack sufficient hardiness for Minnesota, although some may eventually prove to be hardy here. The same is true (with a few exceptions, such as "Carefree Beauty") of the roses developed in Iowa by Dr. Griffith Buck. Nor are the Simplicity, Freedom, or Robin Hood roses, often sold for hedges, hardy enough for Minnesota.

Minnesota extends into three USDA zones. The lower third of the state is in zone 4, the upper two thirds are largely in zone 3 but southern Lake of the Woods County, northern and eastern Beltrami County and a portion of northern St. Louis county are in zone 2.

List of hardy roses available to Minnesota gardeners

Skip to: Hardy roses developed by Agriculture Canada | Other hardy roses

Hardy roses developed by Agriculture Canada

Cultivar Flower color Plant height (feet) Flower diameter (inches)

Flower type

VD=very double

USDA Zones Repeat bloom? Fragrance Com-
Shrub roses
Alexander MacKenzie light red 5-6 2.5 D 3-4 yes ff

Disease-resistant foliage

Champlain dark red 3 2-2.5 D 3 yes f

Very floriferous

Charles Albanel dark magenta pink 2.5-3 3 D 2-3 yes ff

Lower- growing than a usual Rugosa; nice small shrub.

Cuthbert Grant velvety dark red 3-4 4 D 3 yes fff

Hybrid Tea-type blooms shatter easily.

David Thompson rose- pink 3-5 2.75-3 D 2-3 yes ff

Hybrid Rugosa

DeMontarville medium pink 3-3.5 2.5 D 3 yes f

1-4 flowers/ cluster; very disease-resistant

George Vancouver light red 2.5-3 2.5 D 3 yes f

Disease resistant

Henry Hudson white 2-4 2.5 D 2-3 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa; nice small shrub

Hope for Humanity wine red 2 3 D 3 yes  

Hybrid tea-like buds; very disease resistant

J.P. Connell pale yellow fading to cream 3-5 2.5-3 D 3-4 yes ff

Reblooms sparsely.

Jens Munk medium pink 4-6 2.5-2.75 SD 2 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa; good repeat bloom

John Franklin red 3-4 2.5-3 D 3 yes f  
Lambert Closse pink 2.75 3.25 D 4 (3?) yes  

Disease resistant

Martin Frobisher soft pink 5 2.5-3 D 2 yes ff

Hybrid Rugosa; strong upright growth

Morden Blush white/ blush pink center 2-3 3 VD 3 yes f


Morden Centennial pink 4-5 3.5-4 D 3 yes ff  
Morden Fireglow orange-
2.5-3.5 2-3 D 3 yes f

New growth is dark, purplish green; susceptible to black spot.

Morden Ruby ruby red 2-3 3 D 3 yes f  
Prairie Dawn deep pink 5-7 2.5-3 D 2-3 yes f

Reblooms sparingly

Royal Edward medium pink 1.5 2 SD 3 yes  

Low spreading semi-miniature

Simon Fraser medium pink 2 2 S&D 3 yes f

Early season flowers are single, later flowers are double.

William Booth medium red, white center 5 2 S 3 yes  

Trailing, 8' spread; highly disease resistant

Winnipeg Parks cherry red 2-3 2.5 SD 3 yes f

New growth is dark, purplish green.

Climbing roses
Captain Samuel Holland light red 6 2 D 3 yes f

1-10 flowers/ cluster; disease resistant

Henry Kelsey true red 6-7 3 D 4 yes ff

Climber or vigorous bush; Susceptible to black spot.

John Cabot fuchsia 5-8 3 D 3 yes f

Can be grown as climber, pillar, or vigorous bush.

John Davis light pink 5-6 2.5-3 D 3 yes f

Short climber or vigorous bush

Louis Jolliet medium pink 4-6 3 VD 3 yes ff

Spicy fragrance; trailing habit; disease resistant

Marie Victorin salmon pink 6-8 3.5-4.5 D 3b-4 yes ff

Hybrid tea shaped blooms.

William Baffin deep pink 7-9 2.5-3 D 2-3 yes f

Very vigorous

Other hardy roses

Cultivar Flower color Plant height (feet) Flower diameter (inches)

Flower type

VD=very double

USDA Zones Repeat bloom? Fragrance Com-
Shrub roses
Agnes light amber yellow 5-6 2-3 D 4-5 no ff

Rugosa Hybrid; susceptible to black spot

Belle Poitevine magenta-
4-5 3-4 SD 2-3 yes ff

Hardy Rugosa Hybrid

Blanc Double de Coubert white 5-7 3-3.5 SD 2-3 yes fff

Very fragrant Rugosa Hybrid

Carefree Beauty coral pink 3 4-4.5 SD 4 yes f

This Buck rose has long-lasting flowers and orange fruit.

Carefree Delight pink 2.5-5 1.5 S 4 yes  

Excellent disease resistance; prolific

Chuckles deep rose 2 3.5 S 4 yes ff


Dwarf Pavement pink 3 3 SD 3 yes fff

Also known as Rosa Zwerg.

F. J. Grootendorst bright red 3-5 1-1.5 D 3-4 yes none

Fringed flowers resemble carnations.

Foxi Pavement deep pink 3 3 SD 3 yes fff

Also known as Buffalo Gal.

Fru Dagmar Hastrup shell pink 3 3-3.5 S 2 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa with good fall foliage color.

Grootendorst Supreme dark red 3-4.5 1-1.5 D 3-4 yes none

Fringed flowers resemble carnations.

Hansa crimson-
6 4-4.5 D 2-3 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa

Harison's Yellow sulfur yellow 6 2-2.5 SD 3 no ff

Small, fernlike foliage

Hunter brilliant red 4 3-3.5 D 4 yes f

Hybrid Rugosa

Lillian Gibson light pink 9-10 2.5-3 D 3-4 no ff

Prolific; 4-6 week bloom period

Linda Campbell red 5-6 2.5 D 4-5 yes  

Needs winter protection.

Madame Hardy white 5-6 2-3 D 4 no fff

Old Damask. Blooms have green "eyes." Suckers.

Nearly Wild medium pink 2-3 2 S 4 yes f

A Floribunda whose flower resembles a wild rose.

Pink Grootendorst clear pink 3-4.5 1-1.5 D 3-4 yes none

Fringed flowers resemble carnations.

Purple Pavement purple-
3 3 SD 3   fff

Also known as Rotes Meer.

Red leaf rose
R. glauca (R. rubrifolia)
pink 6 1.5 S 2 no f

Reddish foliage has blue cast. Some shade tolerance.

R. hugonis (Father Hugo's Rose) primrose yellow 6-8 2-2.5 S 4 no f

Bushy growth with small ferny foliage.

R. rugosa deep rose, magenta or white 5-6 3.5 S 2 yes fff

Large fruit

R. rugosa alba plena white 5-6 3.5 SD 2-3 yes fff  
Roseraie de l'Hay purplish-
6 4 SD 4 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa

Schneezwerg (Snowdwarf) white 5 2 SD 2-3 yes fff

Hybrid Rugosa; deadhead for best appearance.

Sir Thomas Lipton white 5-6 3 D 4 yes ff

Hybrid Rugosa

Snow Pavement light lavender 2 3 SD 3 yes fff

Large red hips; also known as Schneekoppe.

Stanwell Perpetual blush pink aging to white 3 2-2.5 D 3-4 yes fff

Buy grafted/ budded plants to prevent suckers. Gray-green foliage.

Therese Bugnet lavender pink 5-6 2-4 D 2 yes fff

Susceptible to mildew. May not rebloom much.

Topaz Jewel soft yellow 5 3.5-4 SD 4-5 yes f

Hybrid Rugosa. Blossoms shatter easily.

Climbing roses
Seven Sisters
(R. multiflora platyphylla)
dark rose to lilac 10 small D 4-5 no f

Rambler. Color changes as flower ages.

The authors wish to thank David Zlesak, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, and Doug Foulk, Minnesota Extension, for their assistance.

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