Winter Hardyness Experiences


I had the good fortune to get some pollen in the mail (Thanks to Joan and Paul) from some roses that I have classified as ‘Key’ roses for my little hybridizing plan. Its been a couple of weeks now, and though its a little early to tell for sure, it looks like I have several successful crosses from this pollen.

Here are a few examples of some potential successes:

Prairie Harvest x Hazeldean

Prairie Harvest x Prairie Peace

Golden Unicorn x Hazeldean

Lichtkonigin Lucia x Hazeldean

Lets focus on Prairie Harvest x Prairie Peace.

I am really curious about how winter hardyness passes on to offspring. Prairie Peace is supposed to be zone 2 according to HMF. I suspect Zone 3 is more releastic. I wonder what will happen when a Zone 45 rose like Prairie Harvest is crossed with a Zone 2/3 rose. Could I hope for a zone 3/4 rose?

Prairie Harvest has been a wonderful rose for me with a great repeat and very good disease resistance. I get no dieback in my Zone 5 climate.

Lichtkonigin Lucia is another fantastic rose that gets some dieback in Zone 5 but nothing like a typical hybrid tea. Its a nice yellow rose with very good repeat.

What kind of experiences can those of you working toward more winter hardy roses share?


Hi Steve,

That’s a great question. From Svejda’s article on the inheritance of winter hardiness she proposes winter hardiness is a quantitatively inherited trait. So, there are probably many genes segregating all contributing something towards the trait. This trait in fact is quite complex and involves absolute temp tolerance and what that is at different times during winter and temps experienced, cues and speed of acclimation in the fall, chilling hour requirements, wintertime moisture and so many other things interacting to ultimately affect how much live wood there is come spring.

Anyway, depending on what genes and alleles are present one should have a range of hardiness among seedlings- some hardier and some more tender than the parents. Over generations one can select and move populations for greater hardiness.

Most of my roses seem to be intermediate in hardiness to their parents. After using a hardy species parent and crossing and backcrossing with repeat flowering parents which are generally more tender, hardiness tends to get diluted. I do have one surprise rose that is a cross of a tender mini and a R. laxa hybrid that is rock hardy with a little rebloom that I really enjoy. It seems to know when to start shutting down in fall- it sets strong terminal buds and usually is alive all the way to the tip come spring! My guess is that photoperiod is the main key for this rose and maybe in the South it would shut down too soon as their days are shorter than ours here in the North. Perhaps different cues and components of winter hardiness are selected for to different degrees depending on our climate. Perhaps a rose with consistent live wood in one area of zone 4 may not do so in another area of zone 4.

I tend to use at least one reliably hardy rose in each cross hoping to recover some seedlings with enough hardiness to survive for me in the Twin Cities. In the end some get the right genes and survive and many don’t and I lose them.

I’m excited when I learn others prioritize and select for winter hardiness too. The options for lower maintenance roses here in the North are kind of limited compared to other areas of the country.



Just a note about Prairie Peace, I’m pretty sure it’s fully hardy to zone 2, if not zone 1. The 2 in Saskatoon that I know of don’t show an ounce of winter damage in 3 years, they just keep getting bigger and bigger…

Good luck with your crosses,

Koren in Saskatoon

When you are talking about Z2, you re talking really winter hardy! you can get away with anything there like can in Z5!If you grow both the parents there, the offspring should be equally hardy unless they are “dosed” with non-hardy varieties.

YOYs and 2nd leaf plants should definatley be protected before they are evaluated for winter hardiness.

The local “hort Show” (WOI AM 640, 9:00 AM CDT fridays)had a rose expert from ISU talking about winter protection. I had to call in and sugest that it is most important that your plants flourish during the growing season. Plants that have insect and disease problems, and display spindly growth during this time , are unlikley to make through the winter no matter what you do.


Interesting, Koren. How does Hazeldean do in Zone 2? I have several crosses using Hazeldean and Prairie Peace and the pollen parent. As of right now, I think I have 10 hips that are looking very good. Of course that can change but the plants are very good hip setters.

I had a bunch of Hazeldean pollen I put on Golden Unicorn which is a good zone 5 plant but dies down to the snowline in zone 4. If I could get a interesting plant that is cane hardy throughout US zone 4 that would be a great start for me. Thats my main goal, roses that will make it through zone 4 winters with little or no cane damage.

I wonder how Beauty of Leafland does in Zone 2. I am really interested to see if I can have some success with it when my plant matures. Really curious if I can get it to pass on its form. Though it may ball, perhaps that combined with some of the bucks that open very fast may make something interesting.



Hazeldean gets any where from 5 to 7 feet here in and around Saskatoon, it suckers quite a bit once it’s established. There’s actually another yellow rose around these parts that looks exactly like Hazeldean, but the scent is markedly lemony, instead of the baby powder smell I often get from my and other Hazeldeans. I’m still trying to figure out if the scent changes by location/time of day, etc. This other rose seems to be the exact same tone/color of yellow, so I don’t think it’s Harrisons, but I can’t say for sure.

Beauty of Leafland will get at least 6 feet here easily, although my new one this year topped out so far at one foot! They are both fully hardy, large shrubs. There’s a book that our rose society has written and sells that lists all the roses that can be grown here, with descriptions. I refer to it all the time. It has a section with rare roses, most of which are very hard or some even impossible to find.

It has 66 pages and is invaluable when rosing around…if you’re interested I could post ordering info, it would probably come to $13 or so American, delivered. It must have over 150 listings of rarer prairie bred roses, with as much descriptions that sometimes was known.

Happy hipping!


Koren–would you please post ordering info on your local rose book?



The book is called ‘Growing Roses in Saskatchewan’ it was written and the info compiled by Brian Porter, and was edited by Arnold Pittao. I think a second edition is in the works, but am not sure how far along it is. The revision will likely be more cultural aspects rather than cultivars, etc. I’ll include an email address so you can find out the cost to the States.

Saskatchewan Rose Society

Arnold Pittao, Secretary

5405 29th Street

Lloydminster, AB

T9V 1N2


email address is:

Our Society has also been compiling a list of all cultivars growing in the province, including how the rose does, location, etc to keep track of rarer cultivars, and possibly (eventually) get more hardy cultivars into the nursery trade.

I do hope you enjoy the book!


Sorry folks,

Arnold’s email address has changed to

I talked to him this evening about copies of the book and the cost to USA is $13.00 US funds (shipping included).


Koren in Saskatoon


This goes back somewhat to a post December 2004. I didn’t use Hazeldean or Prairie Peace but took a somewhat different path and worked with Aicha as a pollen parent. I think that Aicha is a Z3 rose but I’m not sure. I crossed it mostly with Bucks some Austins and one of my own seedlings. I tend to think of most Bucks as Z5 or Z6 roses with just a couple truly hardy to Z4. Here in southern NH Z5, Prairie Harvest for example dies nearly to the ground every winter. Perhaps it’s my micro climate.


Many of the Aicha crosses died early in the season or displayed disease while still in the green house but I selected six that survived and are in the garden now and are thriving very well. All are very thorny, a couple are over two feet, and one has bloomed repeatedly. It’s a very double white. I would post the image if I could. The others are probably once bloomers.

I’m hoping to get some roses hardy through Z4 out of this that are fertile and can be used for further development. I’ll be leaving these roses out in the elements this winter and hope for survival.



Brings up something interesting that I have seen before. I have ran into several people from the North East who wonder what the big deal with Buck roses. Thiers die back to the ground and often stuggle.

There seems to be something in the NE that Buck roses do not like. If you look at the zone chart, I am on the border between zone 4 and 5. I always get at least 2 weeks of really cold weather with lows -15 to -20 below zero and highs never above 10. My Folksinger and Prairie Harvest have little or no dieback. In a true zone 4 winter, I think they are tender to the snowline. I noticed that there is a report of dieback to the crown in a colder winter.

If I had a goal with respect to winter hardiness, it would be Zone 4 cane hardy.

All my more tender bucks, like Honeysweet and Distant Drums, die to the snow line. My Hybrid teas die to the ground. I dont winter protect.

Do you grow Reine des Violettes? Its another rose that is cane hardy for me but I have reports of dieback to the ground in the North East.

Re Reine des violettes,

I’ve grown this rose for 3 years now, it was planted deep and is mulched year round (3 inches or so of post peelings). It dies to the crown every year, but I still get one or two (on a good year) canes and a few blooms every autumn. I really do have zone envy. Many roses will actually survive here (my RdV was a bagged rose from Texas, aka Dr Huey rootstock), but they will not flourish unless fussed over.

A rose that I thought would be less cane hardy is Fruhlingsmorgen. It survived to the tips this year, we’ll see what happens next year…

Koren in Saskatoon


Reine des Violettes does okay here in southern NH. Generally no more than 1/4 die back although two years ago the three plants I have did die to the ground during a colder than normal winter. All bounced back than spring.

It’s hard to generalize how various roses will do. Many roses I found not to be hardy here I move to my sisters home twenty miles away and they do great.

You mentioned Folksinger, for me it seems to be a little more winter hardy than Prairie Harvest and grows more vigorously during summer but is not as disease resistant. The drawback I find with Folksinger is that it seems prone to mildew and it seedlings seem to likewise.

Also a possiblity for a yellow rose is Bella Renaissance. It has similar winter hardiness as Prairie Harvest and has good disease resistance, repeat bloom and a much purer better yellow with no pink shadings. I used John Davis pollen on it last year and got two seedlings that appear promising. Many of the other seedlings lacked vigor or died. That could be due to John Davis, since I had similar experience with other roses pollinated with John Davis.