Cold hardy roses


I am looking for some recommendations from folks living in the northern climes. As I have researched cold hardy roses over the years, I have come to a realization. What I am looking for when I search “cold hardy roses”, and what is presented on the internet as “cold hardy roses” are two separate things. OK, so much of what I read on the internet when researching anything is mostly useless information…and here is another example…“cold hardy roses” as presented on the internet almost always refers at least partially if not wholly, to roses (ie. blooming flowers) that will withstand low temperatures with minimal damage to the blooms and the tips) because of high elevation and/or short growing season. UGH ! This is so frustrating for those of us trying to find trouble free roses for lower number zones…two entirely different things. I am looking for roses that I don’t have to bury or cover or tie up …perhaps just mound a little, that will still be alive come spring , preferably with minimal damage…because that too, is a thing. So, what I have found when searching cold hardy roses on the net, I am now realizing, is mostly the former. Here’s the thing, when the summer is over, the fall begins and temperatures will drop, There’s always going to be a “last rose of summer” whether it be sooner or later, sure it’s a bit sad the season is over, but I’m not going to cry about it. I am not at all concerned about my blooms getting frosted…I am concerned about whether my rose PLANT is going to still be viable after the winter, come the next season. THIS is why I am researching cold hardy roses… not because I can’t stand to see frost on my blooms. Don’t get me started on David Austin…Unbelievably beautiful roses, but what do those hardiness ratings really mean?..Sure I could have winter protected my roses better than I have over the years…but I don’t want to fuss…but still would like to get something resembling those Austin roses in terms of quality. I do still have one surviving “Brother Cadfael” after trying several Austin roses over the years…and it is growing among some grasses which probably is not great (competition) but actually provides winter protection (I believe) as I have done little with it in terms of winter protection. My question is this: What wonderful roses do you have growing in the colder regions (prairies). I am not in the prairie…I am in 5b, but I am so darn tired of losing things that I will not consider anything rated for any higher than zone 4, preferably lower. I know I know, all those gorgeous Austin roses are rated for zones 6 through 10…I have tried the ones rated for “zones 4 and 5”…and again, I am not really sure what this rating is for…is it for blooms or the plant itself ?..I suspect it is for blooms…and that’s not my concern or what I’m looking for. So, what do you have growing, that is both gorgeous and hardy as heck ??


From an earlier thread or two:


That is a beautiful colour ! I must try ! I am mostly about fragrance…so many are overrated for fragrance…when it doesn’t mention fragrance at all…you are fairly assured it is not a key characteristic. I know I won’t get form, colour ,fragrance and winter hardiness all in one rose…at least not so far …nudge nudge breeders. The rugosas are one of the most fragrant and hardy, but very limited colour variety and form is a bit messy…still , one of my favorites as that ‘Turkish Delight’ rosewater fragrance is out of this world. Colourwise, if I have to pick a favorite I like the apricot/sunset colours. Now, if we could get an apricot/sunset colour rose with a wild rose fragrance and an Austin/English rose form and winter hardy with minimal dieback…in my books, that would be the ultimate rose !!


I am also 5b, southern Ontario. There were a number of roses on the property when we moved here but they almost all died off from powdery mildew.
I put in a white rugosa that is basically a big, pretty weed. I love it, but have to limit where it goes,

We have a small white climber rose that is pretty, almost scentless and only survives where it’s under snow cover. Otherwise, easy to keep.

The closest to what you seem to be looking for was one I found growing under one of the large spruces. This area has been settled since the early 1800’s and I think this an old one. It’s pretty upright and not a huge spreader but does okay and overwinters fine. I do need to hit it with at least one round of bt each year or the buds get chomped.
It has much more scent than any others I’ve found.

Strangely enough, the other roses I keep are some minis that have stuck around for 7-8 years. I bought them on clearance after Mother’s Day and put them in old teapots for the summer. They got stuffed in a bed over winter and kept living. The buns eat them down every winter but they keep coming back!


It isn’t too showy and the fragrance is a bit mild, but the shining rose (Rosa nitida) is super cold hardy and has a great form in a small package. It grows wild here in Maine just fine and always looks good with shiny leaves and red stems. The flowers are simple but nice.


Andrew, Austin roses are mostly not hardy enogh for zone 5. Some can’t even handle my zone 6.

The pink rose above looks like rosa rugosa. They are very tough/hardy but most are single or double layers, not multi layers like DA roses.

Also, rugosa roses are thorny and can grow big like 6-8’ bushes.

I like roses that hybridized by Dr. Griffith Buck of Univeristy of Iowa. He bred so many wonderful roses that can withstand the cold trial field of Iowa winter.

This is the Buck roses from Heirloom Rose nursery that can tolerate zone 4. Some of them have nice fragrance (most fragrance is not strong as some of DA roses)


I grow William Baffin and it has never lost a cain to cold. I have it trellised up all year long, only maintenance I do is to give it mulch and pick Japanese beetles off of it. It is not a true climber so I’ve tied it up to the trellis.

No fragrance unfortunately. I’m still looking for cold hardy with fragrance that’s not a rugosa. Some rebloom.

Google images of it show a monster of a rose, but here it doesn’t get that big. It has stayed at around 6’ tall for the past two years now.

Bees like it


Yes, the colder it is, the smaller a bush of the same variety becomes. My Abraham Darby grows to about 4 ft tall. In wamer zones, I saw pics of it growing to 7- 8 ft tall.


We have a hardy rose from the Canadian Explorer collection, I just can’t remember its name. He was an explorer I’d never heard of, didn’t write it down, and the label is gone. I don’t recognize it as any of the ones named in this article from Landscape Ontario.


looks like the ones in front of my grandparents old house. they had a good scent to them though. we have short wild ones that grow in gravelly soil near lakes and rivers here.


looks a bit like a wild rose


I’ve had Abraham Darby (overwintered once only), Sharifa Asma (nope), Wollerton Old Hall (which lasted a few years before it didn’t), and I had 2 Brother Cadfael, now only one…and woops I lied, I do have one other survivor which I believe is either Generous Gardener or another climber…one of which I also lost.


John Cabot ?


yikes…they need a better photographer…most of those look like pictures from a catalogue that’s been sitting years in the sun.


Those look really nice…love the look of that Prairie Star…unfortunately it’s shipping over the border…a no go.


I’m no expert, but my understanding as to why roses have hardiness issues, is the fact that with all of the many generations of hybridization, they have lost the ability to go dormant naturally.

I see it in the knockout roses all the time, they pretty much absolutely refuse to give up the ghost until we’ve had multiple freezes in the teens, and then they reluctantly drop their crispy dead leaves. They’re not programmed to start it automatically like most deciduous plants are.

They have to be “forced” into it.


HMMM…now you are making me wonder if roses are really 'programmed 'to go dormant at all…as the quintessential English rose…as a maritime country…with gulf stream that keeps even the winter moderate…


More likely Charles Albanel The flowers are similar, and it was named after someone whom I didn’t recognize.

They are sold in the US. There is a rose grower in Ithaca who specializes in Explorer and other hardy roses.


I have some of those on the property here…some are really only a few inches high and have maybe one flower on them…clearly wild rose of some sort…very stunted. almost like a ground cover, except they don’t.