Breeders whose roses don't do well for you

nippstress - zone 5 NebraskaJanuary 25, 2014

HI folks

Since we in cold zones have to find something indoors to feed our rose addiction during January and February, I found myself sorting through my rose lists the other day. I keep records of not only all the roses I have in my yard (750+ fluctuating at any given time), but all the roses that have died in my yard, and why they've died (around 500, but many are the same roses multiple times). I was curious to see if my biases about various rose breeders were borne out in the cold hard data (OK, very cold these days, hence the indoor time). I'm rating these roses simply on winter survival for me, occasionally including roses that wimped out in their first summers. None of this has any relation to the ultimate quality of these roses, and in fact the cases of multiple death are usually roses I'd dearly love to grow but they don't survive in my yard.

My trio of go-to breeders for my first choice roses are Kordes, Delbard, and Tantau, but the latter two were only average in hardiness. Overall, if a breeder was at least 50/50 survival vs. death in my yard, I counted that as fine, and Delbard and Tantau ranked right in there with the bulk of breeders. Kordes did considerably better, as I would have guessed, but they didn't have my top survival ratings like I would have expected - those roses survived 92 to 44 deaths, or a little better than 2:1. Some of that has to be due to multiple tries at Blue Moon, who simply refuses to survive for me.

Other breeders that did as well as Kordes at a 2:1 ratio of survival were Barden and Rupert (go team!), as well as surprisingly Carruth and McGredy. I wouldn't have placed their floris and HTs as high as Kordes, but they seem to be pretty tough. David Austin is reliably higher, at 4:1 ratio and getting better with time, and of course Buck and Explorer roses survive well. Among my less frequent roses, Jalbert is going strong with 7 survivals and only one death - Canadian breeder must make a difference! More surprising are the warm climate breeders - Barni is 11 survived/3 died, and Massad is 6 survived and only 1 died.

Some breeders that I had in mind as wimpy winter survivors were actually not too bad - Boerner is 50/50 and Brownell roses are a 2:1 ratio but by no means the sub-zero roses as billed. Even the comparatively wimpy Pernetiana/Ducher roses get up to 50/50 ratios.

So which ones were the wimps? These were eyeopeners for me. I knew that Dot would be a problem, after Kim had noted them as weak plants. I was surprised to notice a pattern where nearly all Perry and Adam roses had died, and they weren't on my radar screen, but it's enough to make me very cautious about any others from those breeders. I'm not too surprised that no Viraraghavan roses have survived, given that he uses a lot of teas as parents, but so far I've also struck out on Koster and Lambert roses.

And the winners in hardiness survival ratios? I've never had any deaths from Morey, Noack, or Jerabek, but that's at only 3 or 4 roses each. The true winner in hardiness is no surprise to me - Lim. I've planted 15 Lim Easy Elegance roses and none have died.

Enough rambling from me - do you have other patterns of roses by breeders that do particularly well or poorly?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
TNY78(7a-East TN)

I agree with you on Ping Lim's roses. All have done excellent here in terms of disease resistance and hardiness (although I'm only zone 6b/7a). Ralph Moore's also do well here, as do Boerners.

As for one's I avoid: Harkness! I don't think I have a single Harkness rose that hasn't either died or been shovel pruned due to blackspot and other diseases that run rampant here! I'm sure there's other breeders that I can't think of off hand, but that's the one that sticks out to me.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Campanula UK Z8

I simply don't have enough knowledge of that many different roses to attempt anything like your careful and definitive analysis, Cynthia, but hey ho, since when did lack of knowledge stop me from opining so:
My worst roses have been Delbard and Meilland and (I am deeply upset to say this), Harkness roses are also a bit of a crap shoot...although I should qualify that somewhat. They are based only a (energetic) cycle ride away from me so I felt they should be my go-to roses and I have probably had many more of them than any other breeder so I would say, based on more forgiving ratio based stats, the death and disease rate has been less than 50/50 (but the hulthemias keep me coming).
Kordes have always performed well and they have enough variety to satisfy a picky chooser. Legrice - a bit duff, I am afraid, but that was down to the roses (those coffees). The Renaissance roses have knocked Poulsen almost to the bottom of the list (fails, one and all) but he recovered his position thanks to the 'county' series of ground-covering roses.
Most favourable, so far, have been a series of Lens HMs (which perform more reliably than the Pembertons)....but many seem a bit....same-y
The breeder I most want to try are the Pirjo Rautio spins (and if I ever manage to stash some cash, that's where I will be spending it)....whilst I am woefully ignorant of Geschwinds and Sievers. I also have never grown a single Beales rose apart from James Mason....but will, I hope, rectify this with a dainty climber, Keith Maughan.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 7:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)


Other than cold hardiness, have you kept any records about the plant characteristics of the survivors vs the deaths ?

For me, cold is not as big a problem as heat. Years ago, I started keeping records about performance during the summer heat period to find out which roses by breeder and plant characteristic that did best in this climate.

I moved from very rose friendly southern California to the mountains of northern California. It was like starting all over with roses. I am still learning.

Generally, disease is not an issue for me, so I don't worry too much about that.

Just curious about your findings.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Several of the newer Kordes have done poorly in my garden, except for disease resistance, which is superb. I appreciate 12' of pristine, gorgeous foliage, but without flowers there's no point.

They grow huge, huge, huge and have slow or very little repeat. Perhaps the long growing season and mild temperatures is the problem. They are bred to survive a cold winter and when it doesn't come they go hog-wild with green growth. Goes to show you that an excellent rose in one climate can be problematic in another.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seil zone 6b MI

I love John Sheldon's roses because he has several that are photo-tropic and very colorful. Unfortunately they never winter well for me. I've had O'Rilla, Hopie Girl, Hollywood Star and Strawberry Romance and the only one that has survived is Strawberry Romance. All the rest died their first winter. These were not small bands either but good sized bare root plants starting out. They leafed out, bloomed and grew well the first season but couldn't make it through the winter.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
opheliathornvt zone 5

This is a wonderful analysis - thanks so much for doing it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 6:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rideauroselad E.Ont4b

Hi Cynthia,

Interesting analysis. I think I must be a few degrees colder than where you are. I'm in a solid zone 4b with low temperatures that dip to between -20 and -24 F for a week or two almost every winter. That apparently is enough to put paid to the Kordes roses even with protection. I grew a lot of Kordes roses in my zone 8 garden and loved them. I have tried many here including my old favorites like Westerland and Ilse Krohn Superior and quite a few of the newer ones. The only one left is Caramel Antique which dies to the crown every winter but comes back very vigorously each summer.

For me, it is Austin, Buck, explorer, morden and a couple of selected Poulsen varieties that survive the harsh winter weather and come back with few deaths every year. Though there are some Austins, particularly the ones he calls the English Musk series that are too tender for here as well. For instance Graham Thomas is an Austin that struggles and dies in 4b.

I also have a few of Paul Barden's roses and several polyantha and Brownell roses but they all live indoors in the unheated garage from November to March.

Cheers, Rick

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
predfern(z5 Chicago)

It would be good to make a list of hardy roses from different breeders - bankable roses that will survive in zone 5 without protection. I have found that no one breeder is 100%. I have had the best luck with Austins but some of them have died too. A lot of Bucks are weak. Many Romanticas are too tender and Generosas are also weak. Delbards are also a mixed bag. The only Kordes rose I have is Folklore and it is not fragrant. It is difficult to find roses with beautiful blooms, nice fragrance and hardiness.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

It's really interesting to see reasons for why different roses don't do well in different zones. I can totally see why Kordes roses bred for cold wouldn't do well in California, Hoovb, but it's a shame they're not tough enough for zone 4b either Rick. I hadn't noticed the Sheldon roses, Seil, since I only have grown the three, but you're right that 2 have died (Strawberry Romance and Hopie Girl) and O'Rilla is hanging on by her teeth, and likely won't survive these winters. Thanks for the heads-up - I guess I won't kick myself too much if I can't keep that last one alive.

Camps, it's interesting to see a flip side of my analyses in what does well for you. I can't keep a hulthemia alive in the summer to save my live - they're 0 for 5 so far and I'm bullheaded enough to give Blue for You yet one more try - I wonder if it's the lack of humidity, since they fade in my summers. No, that can't be it as they do well for Kim in the desert. Dang, I agree with you that those are tempting. I'm sure my love of Delbard has stemmed from that haunting painter series but I am finding I need to revise my image of Delbards as both healthy and disease free in some of their other rose types. I haven't had the trouble with either Meilland (58 to 46) or Harkness (29 to 23) - both of those are ahead of my 50/50 mark and Meilland in particular specializes in the dark reds I can't resist (also accounting for many of the deaths in that camp). I don't have enough Beales roses to judge well (2 of 3 survive), but the Pemberton and Lens roses hover around that 50% mark, and some of them seem to be truly zone 6 hybrid musks that wimp out on me. Renaissance roses however will always hold a fond place in my heart, and if I can ever find a Bella Renaissance to replace my 5-year-old massive specimen plant, I'm beating a path to that vendor. Maybe that's a rose that prefers the cold as well.

Lyn, I admit that I'm doing a bit of shorthand to describe the roses that don't do well for me as not winter hardy, since some of them don't survive their first summers, either because they don't like my conditions, or they don't like me (or both). In my zone, winter survival is sort of like heart failure for humans - it might not be the ultimate cause of death, but it's what goes on the death certificate as the last straw. When a rose moves reluctantly in my records from living to dead (in zone 5 we don't give up till there's no sign of life in mid-summer), I guess at the cause and move it to one of the following categories of death:
- health of original plant = 54 (either a band with minimal roots or a bare root with canker already started)
- died before planting = 11 (probably the same as above)
- small band that didn't overwinter = 259 (many of these are zone pushing or discovering which HTs are indeed only zone 7)
- Black Finger of Death = 94 (only 1 in 5 bareroot or potted plants have survived for me in the past because of blackening of the canes from the cut ends all summer that I can't stop - Michael G has suggested Epsom salts at planting and I'm giving that a go this year)
- Never got established/faded in 1st summer - a surprising 104 of these
- Poor location = 20 (usually in too dry a spot)
- Other failure to overwinter = 110 (these were usually gallon plants or otherwise healthy roses that didn't survive the first winter - at least half of these have survived on the second try)
- Shovel pruned = 1 (Harlow Carr - scruffy mangy thing)
- Accidentally killed (stepped on, moved improperly) = 6 - given how closely I space my roses this isn't bad at all
- Gradual fade in a few years, never robust = 63 + 20 minis (nearly all my minis from Uncommon rose are in this category, probably because I bought them early in my rose life and didn't know what I was doing)

Don't know if that helps, Lyn, but it's as specific as I can be given I don't really know why the latter category faded on me. None of these seem to track with breeder patterns, but occasionally with vendor patterns (e.g. bareroots and the Black Finger). Certainly my Our Lady of Guadalupe was a very wimpy J&P plant that hung on for a few years but was never more than a few inches high. Gotta try that one again some time.

PRedfern, I agree that fragrance and hardiness aren't very good partners, at least until you consider the Hybrid perpetuals and Rugosas, not to mention Gallicas and other once bloomers, but those aren't the typical high centered roses with fragrance. As for a list of hardy zone 5 roses across breeders, I started one a year or so ago and I'll see if I can find it to resurrect it, as I'd love to see what has done well for you. Chicago seems to be a bit harsher than my zone, as I recall roses surviving for me that haven't for you.

Anyway, this is part of the fun of variability in roses, and it's always a relief to find an excuse for why a rose hasn't done well for others so I don't feel guilty about killing a particular cultivar. Not that it'll stop me from trying again if I REALLY want the rose, but I have given up on Dot however intriguing the colors are...


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Campanula UK Z8

It is fairly difficult to actually kill a rose in the UK so the first time it happened to me, I was shellshocked (Paul's Scarlet Climber). Of course, another 3 have bit the dust since then (and 2 of them are Rennaissance roses and Hot Chocolate). I am absolutely astounded at your fortitude in dealing with these die-offs, Cynthia (although I would say I can easily compete on the lost perennials numbers which are probably beyond number).

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rideauroselad E.Ont4b

Rather than concentrate on a particular hybridizer, I have found it helpful to concentrate on the genetics of the roses I select.

I suspect that Austins are generally slightly hardier than many other breeders roses because of the OGR genes close up, especially the earlier varieties. The Boerner climber Aloha, which has Rosa Wichuriana two generations back, and also extensively used in breeding by Mr. Austin also seems to impart sufficient vigour and hardiness to subsequent generations of Austin roses bred from it. Lilian Austin is an example with both Aloha and the Gallica Belle Isis in her background. Roses such as St. Swithun and Mayflower have Rugosa not far back in their breeding, etc.

Dr. Buck also used hybrids of cold hardy species roses in his breeding program such as Rosa Laxa and Rosa Spinnosisima.

Similarly, I often look at the breeding lines in roses that interest me along with cold zone growers comments before I make a decision on a purchase. For instance, I have the Poulsen rose Bella Renaisance which is wonderful in my climate. If you look at the breeding, it has Rosa Setigerra a few generations back through Avignon, Goldilocks and Dubloons. It seems to me to have inherited at least some cold hardiness, health and vigor through than breeding line.

So, my plan of attack in rose selection is always to look at the breeding line to see if it has cold hardy stock in the genetics. This works for me more often than not.



    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Cynthia ...

Although my climate is not as cold as yours, after about my third year up here, I found that I could not plant out any rose that didn't have a solid root mass in a three to five gallon can.

I got the idea from a post Jeri made a while back.

I think it makes the rose more able to withstand the summer heat and go into winter healthier. It's one of the reasons I am not tempted to purchase bands. Bringing bands through the summer high temps and winter cold temps in containers to grow them up to a larger size is harder in this climate than it was when I lived down south.

When I asked about observations about plant characteristics, it was because when I looked around to see which roses seemed to do best in this climate, my soil and the culture I had time and energy to give them, I found that the roses that had dense foliage and a heavier petal substance in the bloom did much, much better in this garden.

I don't care if all of my roses are fragrant. I have enough fragrant roses to keep me happy, so if a rose is healthy in this garden and doesn't have fragrance, it is still a keeper.

I like your breeder analysis (thank you for sharing it), but even then, if the rose doesn't have my primary plant characteristics, I'll pass on the rose.

I do know that different nurseries get their roses from different subcontractors who have been licensed to propagate the roses and sell them to the nurseries and that makes a difference in the quality of the budded roses I get. There is only one nursery down in the valley that I will buy my roses from because the quality of their stock is superior to the others.

I've never purchased a rose by mail order, so I can't comment on what you might receive that way.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree about the Harkness roses. Lovely in the pictures, diseased pint-sized wimps in my yard. Never again.

I have also had fairly good results with Tantau roses, even so far with the two yellows, Landora and Golden Rain which I thought sure wouldn't come back. OTOH, I did loose Anna Wheatcroft.

My two climbers by Jacobus, Autumn Bouquet and Dream Girl have both survived the cold.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sandandsun(9a FL)

This, my post, is NOT about a breeder or breeders; neither is the title of the referenced thread a statement from me. I'm actually curious about Darcy, for example.

But I absolutely love reading well saids. I particularly enjoy those that are at once both entertaining and resonate with truth.

Many such well saids exist in the thread linked below.

I could quote quite a number of them, but I must mention that I am extremely taken with this line from ingrid_vc:

"I'm going to look at this as a challenge instead of a plot designed to drive us all crazy."

A more salubrious laugh I hadn't had for some time!

Here is a link that might be useful: No More Austins for Me

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

Wow, it must be hard to make rose decisions in a place where it's hard for a rose to die, Suzy. Sometimes i'm secretly glad when a rose that really doesn't thrive in my yard has the good grace to die over the winter, so I don't have to be a rose murderer. As for the rate of failure, it's definitely a product of being a zone pusher and wanting to try something different. Plenty of people in my zone have never lost a rose because they're smart enough to only plant roses suited for their climate- imagine that! I'm more like Ingrid, in sandandsun's timely quote, that I prefer to look at winter survival as a challenge rather than the roses of a particular type (or breeder) having a specific death wish in my garden.

You're all absolutely right that knowing the breeder isn't enough to judge health, survival, or any other qualities in your yard. I absolutely do the kind of trial and error experimentation that Lyn was talking about in my own yard, it's just that I haven't really come up with particular patterns for what thrives in my yard, except for the obvious ones like "lavenders and russets are usually weak" (understatement of the year) or "roses with teas in their heritage are a long shot". Rick, I admire you for checking the breeding history of the roses, and it certainly would be a more logical approach with fewer failures. I'm afraid I don't follow the breeding history or even keep track of which parents do well for me, though I have noticed that climbers with New Dawn as a parent are likely to be a good match for my yard.

Wow, Nastarana, I hadn't been familiar with Jacobus as a breeder but I looked up Dream Girl, and - wowza zowie is she ever! I love those fat blooms with swirled packed petals, and it's great to hear it thrives in zone 5. Might be a nice counterpart to Nahema on my fence. You ought to share your observations with Helpmefind, since there was very limited personal information on this rose. Where did you get yours?


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
predfern(z5 Chicago)

I ordered Orchid Romance. I bought Lady of the Mist (Harkness) last year and we shall see if survives the winter.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Campanula UK Z8

Yeah, I tend to be very conservative in my rose choices because rose replant syndrome usually means we cannot plant a replacement in the same I stick to a very narrow palette of species and toughies - the most adventurous are my chinas - and, of course, the money is always a consideration - whereas seeds are cheap (even free). So, that tends to be my experimental arena (and boy, do I experiment) - sowing upwards of several hundred different perennials and annuals across a season. The death rates have been eye-watering.......but there's always something else coming along....and once I have grown something, I often never bother again. I only keep what I love....but it has to be said, my garden at home is nice enough but the allotment is, quite honestly, a mess - dozens of small beds with entire schemes (Californian meadow, South African Karoo, Mediterranean garrigue, alpine scree....and so on). I tend not to post many pics of it cos it is a chaotic jumble....but I do learn a lot and my customers have been grateful that they are not guinea pigs.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AnneCecilia z5 MI

This was a very interesting post, Nippstress! I had never thought about viewing my list of past roses by breeder before. So I went into my spreadsheet and re-sorted by that column...and my, did I have a varied assortment of breeders represented! Largest group for any one breeder was Buck, I'm sorry to say (this was from when I gardened in a real zone 4.) I had many Buck's that just got smaller and smaller, weaker and weaker every spring - until one spring they were dead entirely. I grew just about all that were available in commerce back in the early 2000's, but have very, very few today. Out of the 24 past Bucks on my list, 3 were given away and 21 died a slow sad death. I only have 8 Bucks left in the garden now, of which Applejack is my hands down most iron clad hardy Buck rose.
That said, I've lost several Bardens and Kordes, too, but most of the failed Kordes were climbers - always problematic in zone 4. I keep buying new Kordes roses though, and I do like to try anything by Ping Lim or Radler these days.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is interesting thread, I have had poor luck with lots of breeders and it's all my fault, I expected more than the poor plant could deliver...some are just not 'bred' for this I just stick with the tried and true, Chinas, Noisettes, Old Teas....very few 'modern' roses can survive in Florida heat and humidity....I can't enumerate how many times I have tried to grow a beauty that was gorgeous for several winter months but gave up when June July and August rolled around....sally

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:43PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Counting the Days!
Generally it starts after Christmas with me, truthfully...
Julia Child for Pacific Northwest garden
I am on Vancouver Island and would love to add Julia...
Blueisland BC Pacific NW-Z8
Help finding a miniature rose
So far I have decided to try Green Ice from Chamblees....
Patty W. zone 5a Illinois
vigorosa roses
As I continue my research on roses that will work in...
Beth9116 zone 8a TX
Roses from highcountry roses - really disappointed
I received my roses from highcountryroses today. It...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™