How Winter Hardy is Rosa Multiflora?

How winter hardy is Rosa multiflora? It grows wild on my farm and can reach 6m+ in the hedge row. The climate here is listed as Canadian zone 5 but I believe it must be a zone colder because of the strong winter winds. ‘New Dawn’ and ‘American Pillar’ freeze to the ground. ‘William Baffin’ and other Explorers do not freeze. I am hoping to use Rosa multiflora in the breeding of a hardy white climber. Is it the hardiest of the Synstylae group?

Mark Disero, Brantford Ontario

New Dawn and AP are Wichura

Sorry Pierre, I didn’t mean to suggest that the roses I listed were derived from multiflora. I just wanted to give people an idea of how cold it is here.

What I did find out, from various sources, was that Rosa multiflora is hardy to -28’C.(-19’F.?). The coldest it got here last winter was -27’C. I guess that means it’s unlikely that I would find any wild specimens further north.

I have made some crosses with it on various rugosa cultivars. What I like about both multiflora and rugosa is their healthy foliage, vigor, and fertility. By crossing the two I would hope to retain that and then select for the best from each, the floriferousness of the multiflora, plus the winter hardiness and flower qualities (size, fragrance, and repeat) of the rugosa.

I used Rosa rugosa alba, ‘Jessica Lauren’, ‘Nyveldt’s White’, and ‘Lac Majeau’ as the seed parents. The pollen parents were Rosa multiflora(Local) and multiflora(found growing wild at Niagara Parks with better flower form).

(I crossed the same rugosas with ‘Ross Rambler’ also. I hope to compare the results in the future, and use the best of both.)

I have no expectations of spectacular results in the first generation. Something like ‘Iwara’ may be the best I could hope for. If I’m lucky, and even one or two seedlings are fertile, I can continue with selfing and sibling crosses, trying to get that hardy white repeat climber.

That’s interesting, and for one reason more:

R.Rugosa repeats, and it may be suspected

R.Multiflora could hide a potential for

rebloom too.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

Might be usable by you. I dont have any experience with it so I cant give any input but it is intriguing none the less.



I can’t help you out much with the hardiness of multiflora; although I can tell you I’ve seen some near the New York/Canada border. I don’t know what zone it would be.

But as far as hybridizing with rugosa, I have a plant from a double-flowered multiflora X rugosa, and as Pierre mentioned it repeats it bloom every year here.


Very interesting, Tom!

I would not give up on this one. Does it at least

set some hips?

You could multiply it an have some sent to places

with extreme climates, in the hope to get sports that

could be less sterile. Why not?

I would not try to cross it with modern roses. This is

something "d

Thank you Jadae, for the suggestion about ‘Geshwind’s Orden’. I knew about it but had never seen it. Geshwind did a lot of amazing and unusual hybrids. I hear there is a big revival of his roses in Europe. Another rose that I consider a similar rugosa/multiflora cross is the Grootendorst roses(rugosa x ‘Mme Norbert Levavasseur’). There is a great deal of Rosa multiflora in the back ground of ‘Mme Norbert Levavasseur’.

Most of the multiflora around here is fairly hardy though I would suspect some dieback in cooler winters, but not near enough to kill the plant off. It infests most brushy tree-lines here and in zone 4 iowa. I dont remember seeing any when I lived in Minnesota but never really looked.

I have a nifty multiflora hybrid named Ezzy. Its cane hardy here in Zone 5 (15 min from zone 4). Last winter we had 2 weeks of lows below -10 so it does ok. I just pruned it back and tied it up to a fence. Its about 15 feet wide right now. Great mid-spring show of light pink flowers. Slightly larger flowers than typical multiflora. Roots really easy too. It does set hips. I may try a cross between it and Polstjarnan.

I was going to rip it out but changed my mind after its flush.


Grootendorsts are good roses but not very fertile although Meidiland has some hybrids from them. The major issue with multiflora/rugosa into climbers is the massive prickles which may eat the person doing winter pruning. But Ive seen quite a few rugosa descendants that are nearly thornless such as Linda Campbell, Rainforest or shadow Dancer (hmm…all Moore hybrids…freaky…might be the mini’s having some genetic fun).

Turbo- 'Turbo ™' Rose

Marie bugnet- 'Marie Bugnet' Rose

Also, Fimbriata which is similar to the Grootendorsts–

Notice that the Grootendorst hybrids have all used Grootendorst as the pollen parent. Might be helpful info if you go that route. Steve also has an excellent point with alternate multiflora hybrids. Id check out his ideas and perhaps some of the Lens hybridized multifloras since he bred a ton of them.

I grow ‘Geshwind’s Orden’ here in MN. The plant is rather large - bloom quite nice. Let me know if you decide that you really want to try using it - as I may have an extra plant in a pot.


Unfortunately, the multiflora X rugosa hasn’t set a single hip in the 5-10 years that it’s bloomed. It does seem to produce pollen, but I haven’t gotten it to work on anything. I actually haven’t tried much using its pollen – mostly just on ‘Fragrant Cloud’ (which we know can be difficult as a parent).

I do definitely have big plans for this one, since it is so healthy and has a repeat season. And it has a tendency to get quite large, with canes easily reaching six feet tall before terminating in a bloom cluster. I think it should be fairly cold-hardy – I haven’t noticed any winter dieback at all, here in zone 6/7.

And thanks for the suggestion about using older roses (Damasks, Portlands, etc.). I’ve read about the suspected origins of these types and noted the similarity with the multiflora X rugosa (as well as similarity to R.kordesii). I’ve been leaning toward that idea (of crossing the older types with my hybrid) already, but it’s nice to see that someone else thinks that way, too.

It is completely hardy here in Pennsylvania, but I am not so sure about where you are at. It is not, however, the most disease resistant of the wild roses. The wild bushes around here, always start to look a little ragged by September. On the other hand, it is very shade tolerant (grows into enormous bushes even in complete shade). It is also very tolerant of wet soils. There are some plants actually thriving with their roots several inches under the surface of a pond near my house. I thought they might have been a cross with Rosa Palustris, but they have no characteristics of Rosa Palustris.

You may also want to look at Darlow’s Enigma. It is an excellent climber and I believe it is a decendent of Multiflora. It looks very similar to Multiflora except that it flowers constantly. You could try crossing it with something much hardier like White Rosa Rugosa or William Baffin. Good luck!


If you want to breed a relatively hardy white Climber, here are a couple of hardy white cultivars to use in a breeding program. I would try them, for example, with ‘New Dawn’.

  1. ‘Ames Climber’ (Rosa blanda x Rosa multiflora) is hardy to Zone 3 and floriferous.

  2. ‘Polstjarnen’ (Rosa multiflora x Rosa beggeriana) is hardy to Zone 2 and a true Rambler. While it lacks fertility as a pistillate parent, its pollen is likely fertile.

As well, there is great potential using Rosa laxa. A tough, disease resistant, vigorous, tall (3 m) species but lacking floriferousness. For developing a floriferous, fertile and hardy breeding line, I think the key is to first develop a Rosa multiflora x Rosa acicularis hybrid that will be a tetraploid. Then cross it with Rosa laxa or a Rosa laxa/Rosa spinosissima hybrid. Plenty of white there that will come out in the progeny of a breeding program with modern roses.


Here in New Zealand at 45 deg. south ,at altitude 2000 ft in the snow line of inland Otago , Rosa Multiflora grows like a weed . It makes a good hedge and a wind break .

If it grows here in Ranfurly it will grow anywhere. Bill.


Perhaps the hardiest Rosa multiflora is a selection at the Devonian Botanical Gardens that they probably grew from seed (the DBG has grown several species from seed). It is a dense, mounding shrub about 60 cm. tall with typical flowers of the species. I haven’t noticed any winter kill where the temperature in this Zone 3 location can hit -40C. This selection would make a good groundcover, except of course it only blooms once. I think it has potential in a breeding program to develop more floriferousness in shorter roses. I should propagate it (it doesn’t appear to sucker) to make plants available for breeders interested in working with it.


There is also a ground hugging variation that comes true from seed (we discovered it as a weed) and several years later found it down by the Holston River, a couple of tenths of a mile away. If anyone’s interested, email me next April, as it’s only easy to find when in bloom. The rest of the year it shares turf with other weeds.

Re reblooming climbers of the more primitive sort: we’ve had over a month of rebloom on Turner’s Crimson Rambler this fall. It does set O.P. seeds.