Hardy, Everblooming Climbers

Living in southern California, I have no need to worry about cold hardiness. Nevertheless, I think about it, and the struggles of people in the north who really need hardiness in their plants.

So, on this subject I wanted to share a note that William Paul extracted from a longer article in the Scottish Gardener.

Some nurserymen cultivate only the Roses which have a secondary period of flowering in autumn; and even Mr. Rivers is swaying towards that result. Prefixed to his catalogue of summer Roses he has the following paragraph:—‘The numerous varieties of this class, once nominally more than 2000, have now become of secondary interest, except for showing as single blooms for prizes, owing to the introduction of so many beautiful autumnal Roses, more particularly the varieties of Hybrid Perpetuals, which now comprise all that is most perfect and beautiful in form and colour. A summer Rose-tree, whether bush or standard, when its flowers have passed away is a most uninteresting object; in a few years, it is most probable that, with the exception of Moss Roses, summer Roses will be spoken of as things that were.’ With all deference to Mr. Rivers’ acknowledged authority and taste, we must protest against this doctrine, in behalf of Scotland at least. We will not give up our summer Roses. They are on the whole hardier and better adapted for our climate than the Hybrid Perpetuals, many of them raised at Lyons or in some of the warmer districts of France, and with a large infusion of China blood in them. Many of the former, such as Coupe d’Hébé, Chenédolé, Kean, Madame Zoutman, and some hundred others in the same families, ‘make glorious summer’ in July, when our weather is at the finest; and at that season, so far as we have seen, they are as yet not quite equalled by the Hybrid Perpetuals. In Scotland, at least, the flowering of the latter in September and October—greatly to be prized in itself—is only a faint Indian summer compared with the full orbed glory of the former season.

When I was a kid in Kansas, my mother had just two roses. ‘Paul’s Scarlet Climber’ was spectacular every year. It really did stop traffic (as little traffic as we had) when people wanted to know what the heck it was. The other was ‘Golden Showers’, a beautiful variety when it is given suitable soil and climate, but worthless in NE Kansas.

In Tennessee I enjoyed the parade of ramblers, some introduced and one native, that gave a succession of bloom. Rosa multiflora started the display, followed closely by the Wichuraiana hybrids. There was then a gap in the show, until R. setigera started. With a little effort, I am confident that one could breed a group of ramblers that could provide continuous flowering, though each specimen was once-blooming. One could then train the various selections to a fence or wall, overlapping their canes, so blooms of different form and color can appear together.

Just a thought.

American Rose Annual pp. 57-71 (1957)
Breeding Winter-Hardy Rambler Roses
Edward Baker Risley


That article about Risley is very interesting. However, I notice one quirk. American Pillar #84 which I bought many years ago as Golden ARctic (#84) was definitely yellow, not pink. It is parent of my Arctic Sunrise and was quite hardy here to -10 to -20. So i don’t know if the naming was changed when those numbered lines were made commercially available. I’m not sure when that happened, perhaps after Risley got his plant which came from Brownells breeding program in RI.

Any chance of knowing the reference for the following hardiness grouping below from Risley paper? … given as (34, p27) … the R. xanthina caught my eye as -40F is pretty close to -40C (really really cold like my younger days in Ft McMurray) … definitely agree with group good to at least -28 C which is about the lowest I see in Calgary (I grow them) - thought I had r. xanthina (hence my interest) but my hardy “maybe” has thorns/prickles (10% -20% cane length) and its hardiness runs counter to some observations by others R. xanthina too “tender” for Alberta

i.e. from Risley

… As a general guide the following was found in the literature: …

-40°F Rosa rubrifolia, Persian Yellow and Harison’s Yellow ““R. xanthina,”” R. foetida, R. cinnamomea (34, p. 74)

In the category of sweeping generalizations consider the following. Cold-hardiness is probably for many purposes a quantitative trait. That is, it takes a considerable number of genes. So when you cross two roses of different hardiness categories, you ought to get something about halfway in between, ON AVERAGE. There is some evidence for this and it has been said in various places in rose-breeding literature. American Pillar #84 is as conldhardy as Carefree BEauty and so is my seedling ARctic sunrise (actually somewhat more so).
So a cross of R foetida with something having the hardiness of Carefree Beauty (-20C) you have a decent shot at getting something good down to -30. Probably High Voltage, Brite Eyes and several Buck roses are much the same. It is not hard to get seeds that germinate crosses of R. foetida onto these roses in my experience. What is hard is to get reliably reblooming offspring even in a second generation because there is not truly random segregation. Possibly also true for the hardiness, but that works in your favor (toward more cold-hardy).

One catch may be that sudden snap cold-hardiness is different from adaptive cold-hardiness. Things that bloom until frozen may not be very good at the cold-snap kind of resistance if that snap is extreme. There are roses that shut down as a function of day length, in time to resit eeh cold snap in fall/winter, at least at our latitude. But it will take some selection.

Good info and advice. Like the half / half rule off thumb - my kind of garden science and start for my hybridizing efforts which are likely going to be the shotgun approach until I settle down to economies of time. I grew American Pillar #84 (Pickering) in the early days and was surprised it lasted as long as it did, planted in the back North gardens. Carefree Beauty (pink) still growing well and good hip producer - definite base material.

Thank you, Larry, for your analysis.

I think my R. xanthina had trouble shutting down as you mention in your last paragraph. They seem to stay lush green until freeze-up. We had a blessedly long and slow fall a couple of years ago, so I thought they’d had a chance to harden up. But then that spring we had a hard freeze in early May after they’d started to leaf out. So in the end that year it was not able to be determined whether they’d hardened up enough to make the winter and if the spring freeze had caused their dieback and lack of bloom.

There might be a range of hardiness within the species.

I’m sure there is a wide range of hardiness in some species of roses, but I don’t know how much in which. It is well known in in the nursery trade that CV of dogwood or redbud that are grown down south and shipped all round the U.S. via bigbox stores often are not hardy. But I sent redbud seedlings growing here when we had -25C regularly, to MN and they’ve taken 15 years there doing fine. Also in western Pa which is not so extreme.

I would wager that the R palustris that came from the Carolinas is less hardy than what comes from western PA. And R woodsii from Montana is likely hardier than what we would find several hundred miles further south. Almost certainly R arkansana or whatever name it goes by in the Dakotas is a lot hardier than what you would find in Arkansas. The thornless blackberries bred in AR don’t take -20C very well. Only produce a crop about 2 out of 3 yr here. Yet blackberries grow considerably further north. And so forth.

So I would really look carefully for good accessions (meaning known to be from a hardiness demanding location) before putting a lot of effort into them. I’ll find out if the R palustris from Carolina in fact can tolerate our winter this year. Not much of a test but a test. If they make it this year with some leaf protection, next year they get to go fully exposed.

Can provide one data point of what value I am not sure, as I don’t know the provenience of a labelled as R. paulustris scandens I planted in the summer of 2015 in the back north gardens … btw it is not swampy in my garden. It has made it through 4 Calgary winters (by hugging the ground?) … it has moved or grown bigger at the end of 2018 and towards the bottom of the picture Death Nettle (seeking the sun?). Came from a nursery on Vancouver Island … needless to say I am surprised it is going. Picture is summer of 2017, not 2018, for somebody I was trying to help with roses of limited garden value for his swampy ground in Ontario Canada.
R. palustris scandens.jpg

Palustris (sic above)

Speaking of data points, an exploratory cross that I made a number of years ago might be useful as a caution when considering the proposed average hardiness rule of thumb and R. foetida or its close descendants, specifically; that was ‘AUScot’ (Abraham Darby) pollinated by ‘Harison’s Yellow’. Only one seedling germinated, and although it clearly was a cross between the parents, it was just as tender (if not more so) than ‘AUScot’, killing right to the ground in zone 4, even in zone 5 winters or with deep snow cover. It was clearly a hybrid of ‘Harison’s Yellow’, and the pollen parent, of course, was hardy to the tips.

I wonder, given the assumed parentage of ‘Harison’s Yellow’ as well some other direct R. foetida descendants that don’t seem especially cold-hardy relative to their less-hardy parent (‘Soleil’ d’Or’, ‘Mevrouw Nathalie Nypels’, etc.), whether that species is actually a very good donor of cold tolerance in breeding. You might find that by crossing it with ‘BUCbi’ (Carefree Beauty) that you end up with something even somewhat less cold-hardy, since replacing half of the ‘BUCbi’ chromosomes that likely contained critical hardiness-inducing genes with ones from R. foetida will result in a net loss. Meanwhile, crossing it with hardy species that are better donors of cold hardiness, or with extremely cold-hardy hybrids (ones that had good cold-hardiness from both parents) might not see as dramatic of a loss in hardiness among the seedlings.

I probably wouldn’t judge the hardiness of R. palustris as a species by ‘Scandens’, which appears to me to be heavily influenced by R. chinensis and might even be a direct hybrid.


I grew Radler’s Highwire Flyer for the first time last summer. I was impressed with the large, bright colored blooms. As a Radler rose (and a pink one) it should be very healthy. It is marketed as a Zone 5 climber, which means it would have upper cane hardiness in Zone 5 and therefore might have excellent crown hardiness here in Zone 3.

I have seventeen little ones growing of HF x Commander Gillette. These might yield some fairly hardy (Zone 4 or 5) everblooming climbers…low thorns would be a bonus.

Anyone else have experience with Highwire Flyer?

Good cautions Stephan to temper exuberant urges to push outside the envelop to get that zone 3 / 4 hardy well mannered non-white climber / rambler et al gene pool bigger … lessens the “fail” letdown if one goes in with eyes wide open. The experiment with R. p. Scandens (only available) resulted from seeing a large interesting wild arching rose years ago in Waterton National park on a river bank - across the border from Montana -you might remember the example as you had a suggestion as to what it might be from my description - (I do not remember the suggestion).

Assuming I have the correct Stephan, I don’t know if you remember the S’d’O experiment (Pickering), but in my garden I did not observe big die back issues, or spring frost kill of the year’s bloom with the temperature ranges it experienced (say -20-25C ). Reasonably confident it was weakened going into winter by raging blackspot which occurred in about year 4 and repeated in 5. In the end tossed it. Glad it was out of the garden as there was a halo of other roses around it that were also black spot afflicted to various lesser degrees.

Btw …glad you were right, it was not Minette (Pick) but Banshee, and saw that Joel changed the tag near the end of days. Grow now what I believe to be the real Minette (weak).

Having posting difficulties so if this shows up more than once apologies in advance.

… “Stefan”, correct spelling this time, always apology errors due to too much of in a hurray multi-tasking this time with frozen car …

Do Butterball and other Altaica descendants survive zone 3?

Prairie Peace is a second generation seedling out of Butterball and is reputed to be recurrent. My second year plant of the latter should bloom this year - might have some rebloom next year. Werner Schenkel has gotten at least one reblooming yellow seedling from PP - so a reblooming yellow climber might be a possibility.

Hey Riku, yes, I do remember that SdO experiment you conducted (impressive you were able to keep it alive so long, actually, since it blackspots upon exposure to air and defoliates 20 seconds later), but I’m just not so sure that it has significantly improved winter hardiness over its HP parent, ‘Ardoisee de Lyon’. Now, I haven’t grown AdL itself, but its putative sport parent ‘Baronne Prevost’ proved better for hardiness and survival compared with most other reblooming HPs, bourbons and portlands in our garden in zone 4 MN. Have you tried that one in your neck of the woods?

I certainly didn’t mean to put anyone off using R. foetida in a cold-hardy rose breeding program–it has some very good things to offer, but I just think it might need very careful dance partner selection. One thing I have noticed among some of its descendants that I find interesting is reduced cane borer damage. They love nothing so much as destroying canes of native species roses and R. rugosa, but have left my ‘Agnes’ untouched, and I wonder if the R. foetida influence on cane hardness/ripening might not have something to do with that.

Even that old crossing experiment between ‘AUScot’ and ‘Harison’s Yellow’ wasn’t a complete disaster. Surprisingly, it seemed to repeat bloom almost as often as its modern parent, and it had better blackspot resistance.

I don’t remember that wild rose discussion just now, but how could I forget the ‘Banshee’/‘Minette’ saga?

Sorry Riku, I don’t know why I was thinking that ‘Ardoisee de Lyon’ was the HP parent of ‘Soleil d’Or’–that certainly colored my thinking about the potential hardiness contribution of R. foetida in that case, but it’s really ‘Antoine Ducher’, which may well be more tender (I have never grown it). I wonder how long I’ve been going around thinking that? At least I should remember now…

So, in the case of ‘Soleil d’Or’ there might have been some real hardiness benefit from its R. foetida parentage. A number of other direct descendants don’t seem to have gotten much hardiness from the species, though, so it may be a case of erratic inheritance, or something else.


I don’t have much to add to this discussion other than the question I had after reading it – has anyone tried using ‘Ross Rambler’ or its descendants? It just popped into my head, and I’m neither hybridizing nor living in an extremely cold climate (7a here).



I have Ross Rambler and Ross Rambler #4. Both get some pretty funky spots later in the summer, but are insanely hardy. Both set hips, but are hard to pollinate. I think it’s RR4 that impresses me as a potential tree rose for cold climates. It hasn’t suckered that much and is tip hardy 8 or 10 feet in the air.

I always seem to have a few seeds from crosses using RR4 pollen, but haven’t ended up with many or any seedlings that I can remember.

This year I have seeds stratifying from the following seed parents pollinated by RR4:

Above & Beyond
Commander Gillette
Party Hardy
Highwire Flyer
R. nitida