ARC Trial Grounds Regulations

The American Rose Center Trial Grounds have been testing amateur rose hybridizers’ seedlings for nearly 30 years. Here is a reminder on how to submit your seedlings for testing.

ARC Trial Grounds Regulations

  1. Any individual may enter roses for testing. (Miniature roses are to be tested in the miniature test garden, not in the ARC Trials). It is requested that the ARC Staff-Registrar be advised in November of the preceding year as to the number of entries that will be sent the following February so that sufficient space is reserved.

  2. The individual entering the test rose must certify that the variety is his legal property. He/she is requested to identify each entry as to type (Hybrid Tea, Climber, Floribunda, Shrub, etc.) and color. Especially if more than one rose is to be entered in any one year, the varieties should be clearly marked with an individual identification code so they will not be mixed up in the planting process. It is also requested that the entries be identified as being on their own roots or budded, indicating the type of understock used. The date of budding or rooting should be given.

  3. Two bushes per variety of climbers and large shrubs and four bushes per variety of other types will be submitted for testing.

  4. Bush roses will be under test for two years and climbers for three years.

  5. A fee of $25.00 USD per entry is charged. Payment should be included when plants are shipped.

  6. The test roses will be judged at least twice per year at peak blooming periods (Spring: April and Fall; September or October).

  7. The judges will use the ARC-TG test score (evaluation) sheets.

  8. The Trial Ground roses will be given the same basic care as the other roses at the American Rose Center.

  9. The hybridizer or his agent will deliver test varieties to the American Rose Center between January 15th and March 1st for planting and test. The hybridizer should bear in mind, however, that the best time to plant roses in Shreveport is during February and be guided accordingly. Those shipping via UPS should use our street address of 8877 Jefferson Paige Road, Shreveport, LA 71119-8817 instead of the P.O. Box number. The bushes should be established plants, either on their own roots, or budded onto any understock, as the hybridizer desires. The plants will be delivered prepaid, with the specified fee payable to the American Rose Society, and with a signed statement that the test rose varieties are his legal property and have not been introduced into commerce.

  10. The ARC Staff-Registrar will prepare and sign a “License Agreement”, describing the roses received, and return two copies to the hybridizer. The hybridizer will retain one copy for his records, and sign and return the second copy to ARS. (The varieties will be assigned a confidential test number by the ARC Staff-Registrar, and will be identified in the garden only by that number). After planting, the roses will be evaluated by the Trial Grounds evaluators as prescribed above.

  11. After testing, the bushes will be destroyed.

I cannot understand why the American Rose Society feels that a SINGLE test garden located in Shreveport, LA is the appropriate place to determine the merits of roses intended for use by their membership.

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I’m not sure that the ARS has the feelings attributed to it. The ARS did not establish the trial garden, but it does maintain it.

The ARC test garden was established in the late 1970s by the RHA, and that location was offered. Nobody is prevented from getting roses tested wherever he or she wishes and can find a test bed. Members of RHA contributed money to establish the trial garden originally, and recently RHA members contributed a good sum of money to renovate the beds.

At one time the Boerner Botanical Garden in Wisconsin maintained a trial garden for hardy varieties. I don’t know whether that trial garden is maintained now. Perhaps someone else can provide information about this trial garden.

And perhaps someone can mention other trial grounds.


Notice that the miniature tests do include a number of locations.


Jim, is it possible to “pin” this information somewhere on the website. I was just looking for this the other day out of curiousity and was not able to find the information online. I believe it is in one of my RHA books, but I was not at home at the time I was looking for the info. Also, for those who don’t have the RHA books it might be helpful. Maybe you can add a link on the main page or something. Just a suggestion.

Henry, and this is just my opinion, for most amateurs I think the way the ARC tests are being conducted are a little more “do-able” per se than entering something like the AARS. It is difficult for most amateurs to produce mass quantities of one rose while trying to continue on with thier normal rose gardening activities of breeding AND just growing their roses. I know for me, a big problem is time constraints and then in the winter, space constraints on where to house that many roses while waiting to be shipped, and while I am trying to grow newly germinating seedlings. The ARC trial grounds might not give the best representation of how a rose will grow across the country. BUT, at least it does give the amateur the chance to get thier roses out there to be viewed and noticed at least in some way. For me, a little is better than nothing.

I am actually hoping to start entering a few of these smaller test trials that only require 3 to 5 bushes being sent at a time. In that way, you can sort of mimic the larger, more geographically disperse test trials…but in a way that lets you enter at a more comfortable pace. For example I could enter a test trial on the east coast one year, and then enter the ARC the following year. THat allows me to get 4 or 5 ready per year, but still have the testing occuring pretty close in time frame at different parts of the country.

Anyway, that is my ramble for the day… :astonished:)

Michelle, good point on the number of bushes. This could be handled by letting the hybridizer decide which ARS test garden(s) to utilize. As an example, I would assume that some/many/most hybridizers would not be interested in having their rugosa hybrids tested in the deep south.

At present the ARS miniature test gardens are in Phoenix, Sarasota, Shreveport, Portland, Atlanta and Hershey plus in the private gardens of the committee members. Why does the ARS “feel” that miniatures need/merit more locations than other roses?

The original report of the ARS “Rose Seedling, Test Garden Committee” was published on page 7 of the December 1976 issue of “The American Rose”. P.A. Haring was the committee chairman. An early summary by P.A. Haring appeared on page 25 on the April 1978 issue of the American Rose.

Later information that may be of interest:


The above describes the RHA role as :

“The trial grounds area at the American Rose Center in Shreveport was established in the mid 70’s. The RHA provided funds to aid in the construction, and the first seedlings were received in the spring of 1977. Support for the trial grounds continues to be given by the RHA, and by interested rosarians in the Louisiana-Texas-Oklahoma area who trek to the Center three times each year to evaluate the entries and to maintain the plants during the annual pruning party.”


In the above, the following suggests to me that the ARS may benefit from looking at the program to see if changes would make the program more popular:

“Have your members not been producing as many new cultivars as in the past? This year we have only one variety starting a 2-year testing; and last year there were only five put in for testing. (I remember that one year we had 54 new varieties to test, not including the 30+ that were already there.”

Michelle, I will make a page on this site for the ARC trial ground regulations.

Henry, I think that the reason that the ARS wanted multiple test gardens for minis was that minis weren’t being tested in the AARS test gardens. I don’t think that anyone in the ARS felt that minis merited more test gardens than full-sized roses, just that minis needed to be tested in different areas like the full-sized roses.

It would be great if there were more amateur-oriented test gardens in different climates. Perhaps the ARS could make room in their mini test gardens for some amateur-bred roses. Or perhaps the AARS test gardens could have a category for amateur-bred roses that didn’t require so many plants.

I could be wrong but it seems many roses are making it to market without testing? As we know many varieties are climate specific as to performance.

What might be superlative in one market might prove unworthy elswhere. Many of the roses bred for Northern climates would not prove their worth in most of the test gardens mentioned.

I think it’s a great tool but it requires time and energy. Is there any guarantee of marketability after evaluation? It seems only the most mainstream seedlings would be worth the effort.

I plan on sending a few things to Ashdown next season for evaluation but if I have a rose that I know is going to be of interest only to collectors or might be successful only in a limited market, it seems a moot point to go further.

These are great points. I was recently hired on as an Extension Educator by the University of Minnesota and one niche I see myself developing is cultivar evaluation trials for various plant materials. Because I am especially fond of roses, I’m hoping to get something off the ground here in MN for landscape rose evaluation (roses with low input requirements). From my plant breeding graduate work I especially value the investment in multiple locations and years of trial data to get a more realistic picture of cultivar performance. Hopefully there will be a better way to coordinate trial efforts within and across regions and use available resources most wisely and efficiently. I love what I’m learning about the Earthkind program. However, it focuses on already released varieties now.

I’m thrilled the first two entries I submitted to the ARC trials in 2004 were awarded silver certificates. It is very interesting for me here in the North to see how some of my seedlings do way down South, even if it is only one location. I’m glad these two did well. I think plant evaluation at the ARC trials and getting the attention of nurseries to pick up produce good roses is unfortunately not at tightly linked as we would like. Many/most of past winners are still designated as numbers and were never named or introduced. Perhaps using more test sites (maybe including some of those where minis are at now- great idea) may help expand the merit of an award winner and help build a reputation for the award to the Rose Industry and hopefully the general public.

All-America Rose Selection has a lot of merit, but there are significant limitations as well. Unlike many University tests, the summarized data across test sites for each entry is not publically available. The final decision for what wins is a little subjective as they look at more than overall test scores and vote among a group of potential candidates behind closed doors. Test sites may be given more care than the average gardener can provide for disease prevention and other cultural management practices because test sites are often open to the public and a high priority is to not have shabby looking roses. The best of the new roses coming on the market may never have been entered into the trials or really good ones are pulled after the first year so they don’t win to get some performance data and avoid the extra marketing fees tacked onto winning roses that goes back to AARS. So the best roses coming on the market may not win for a number of reasons. Winners I trust are well above average for what was originally entered.

I think a critical key in designing an evaluation program is to clearly understand and articulate what is prioritized and valued in each trial. I think AARS has great value and I do not want to diminish their contributions. However, especially with trials with less sites, taking data at a minimum of twice a year (4 data times total) may not be adequate depending on what is being evaluated. What if those two times / year happen to be when the rose is between blooms? Dr. Svedja reports ‘Frontenac’ is a great landscape rose because it blooms well throughout the season. She determined this by taking data every one or two weeks. I agree that is a great trait for a landscape rose and should be reflected in a testing program evaluating landscape roses.

Being involved in establishing new trial sites in parts of the country where you are located I think would be a great contribution. In doing so, I think it would be great to re-examine the traits that are being prioritized and the mission of the trial. Just adopting the AARS sheets may not necessarily be the best option, although it may be convenient.



Exactly, I find what is being marketed is largely affected by the market niche a particular wholesaler is seeking to fill.

Now there is a rush to market for new shrub cultivars playing off the success of the ‘Knockout’ series.

There was been a dirth of new yellow climbers so a yellow sport of ‘Westerland’ was used to fill the requirement instead of taking the time to explore new introductions.

It’s supply and demand. The best rose is not necessarily the one that will make it to market.

How many of the Buck roses were tested nationally? They are finally being recognized for their good merits long after the fact and despite lack of testing. It is quite unlikely you will ever see Weeks or J&P take them up at this late date as other retailers beat them to the punch.

As background material, I would like to specifically point out that it is my understanding that the All-American Rose trials are completely independent of the American Rose Society and of the RHA. Their web page is at:



You may find this parallel thread of interest:;act=ST;f=5;t=15771


Thank you Jim, for the link.

The points above are all very interesting and I, as well as most of us, I’m sure, have often grumbled about the dirth of evaluations and the near monopoly (and biases) of the large companies in this country. I enjoy hitting the world rose federation’s site once a year to see what types of roses are winning awards in other trials in other countries, and wish that the U.S. had more going on.

I for one don’t live in “All-America” and don’t give a fig about that rating. I want B.S.-resistant stuff for the hot, humid gulf coast. And while I’m not familiar with the current biases of the ARC today, I assume they differ from my interests. Are their results available in a form that can be interpretated according to an individual’s needs/priorities? Regardless, and as David points out, the limited evaluations from one site are statistically meaningless.

I have often fantasized about organizing a “Gulf Coast Rose” evaluation program which would be open to amateur hybridizers and new introductions (yet would somehow not waste garden realty on worthless seedlings from total amateurs), and I have wondered how one would select applicants’ plants to evaluate, how one would solicit multiple gardens to do independent, redundent evaluations of the same selections for statistical significance, and how all parties would benefit in the end.

Ratings in multiple categories would be essential (most fragrant, best landscaper, best resistance, the “people’s choice” voted on by garden visitors, etc.) but organizing and overseeing the whole program would be a nightmare.

Anyone have thoughts as to how such a program – translatable to every region – might be implimented?

Yeah, the AARS award winners are about 25% success rate in my area. Another annoyance in many award winners is the repetition in breeding lines used. J/P and Kordes seem notorious for this. It apparently works but it offers little in variation to care about.

This is a very good thread.

David congratulations on your silver certificate award winners! I think that the ARC is starting to be better managed again. A few years ago, I entered several roses each year for 2 or 3 years in a row. The scores were very late (in one case 6 or 8 months late). I lost confidence that they were even being regularly evaluated. I agree with you that evaluations twice a year cannot be considered comprehensive evaluations. As rose breeders, we evaluate our roses almost daily - I could not make adequate evaluations of my seedlings with two short snapshots per year.

The ARS AOE trials are more comprehensive than the ARC, but are also prone to trends. It seems that among many in the ARS, that interest the larger minis and minifloras has overtaken the true minis, so much so that many of the winners awarded before 2000 wouldn’t be considered as winners today.

AARS has many limitations as mentioned above and has political motivations, but is still probably the best rose trial that we have. If the public want disease free roses, AARS would be wise to evaluate entries without any spray.

I believe that there is a two-year trial in England where roses are sprayed the first year to help them to get established and then evaluated their final year without spraying.

Jim Sproul

Philip - I’m on that fantasy trip too, mine being a test garden for hybridizers needing evaluation for cold hardiness. Something much less strict than those organizational trials mentioned above. It seems that with digital photography and internet communication an evaluation or “update” on the plant could easily be done. Maybe have it open to RHA members only. Maybe a website where these pictures could be evaluated and discussed. A network of gardens around the country representing various climates. The plants given basic rose care that would have to be outlined as well as legal issues such as use or removal of the plant after evaluation. These are just some thoughts I’ve been having as I’ve been redesigning and expanding my trial beds.

Lori, I might eventually have some things I could share with you for testing if you are interested. I have some things now. I need to get them propagated. Thanks, Robert

Robert - I’m definitely interested. As soil tests are being done now and the new garden is developed next year, I’m aiming for spring 2008 to offer spaces for testing.

Thanks Lori, since I’m working with descendants of Basye’s Legacy, Dornroschen and some of the Bucks, cold tolerance has become of more interest to me. Now I have Henry’s Rugelda X R15. It should be an interesting mix. Spring 2008 should be about right. Robert

Robert - As an update: If you’re still interested everything looks good for a “cold tolerance” trial at my farm in Maine. To start maybe 1 to 10 plants shipped in May 2008 would be a good test of this type of trial. This would well establish the plants in preparation for winter. I don’t know the legal logistics of this type of transaction, but I’m sure we can work something out. I’ll provide any details you need of the growing conditions, location, soil specs., etc. Any suggestions from anyone as to how to set this up would be appreciated.