Extreme cold hardiness

malcolm_mannersSeptember 21, 2011

Hi folks, I plan to visit friends in zone 2a or even 1b Alaska soon. Are there roses that will survive there? I know R. acicularis is totally happy in that area (near Denali), but I wonder about the other supposedly hardy stuff, like Rugosas -- could even they handle -50?


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R. majalis (cinnamomea) is apparently very hardy and grows all the way to Siberia. Also, I came across a post from the Far North forum on their roses, it is amazing how many varieties they grow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Roses in the Far North

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:01PM
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I could not figure out the spelling at first, but I found a majalis hybrid, Dr. Merkeley, that HMF says grows in zones 2b and warmer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr. Merkeley on HMF

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:08PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

WOW! Check out those links, folks. And to think I believed my mother when she told me (years ago) that you can't grow roses as far north as South Dakota!


    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:51PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Kate, You Mom probably lived in a Hybrid Tea centric world. I do know a rose grower who now lives in east Tennessee. Her description of the level of care that it took to get roses through winter almost involved major earth moving equipment.

Re Merkeley: the man was a member of the British expeditionary forces on the Kamchatca Peninsula in Russia and he brought seeds back. There were multiple cold hardy breeding programs in Wyoming, Nebraska, and New England (as well as at Morden Manitoba) and the Wyoming program did have at least one rose from Merkeley.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Thanks folks. This is a good start. The challenge, of course, is that even on that linked site, people are considering zone 2b, 3, and even 4 to be "really cold." To us Floridians and many others in the Lower 48 States, that's surely the case! But up near Fairbanks, 2b is iffy, and zone 3 is considered nearly tropical. I'll look into these suggestions. I think what we need is good hardiness to minus 50 F, with permafrost under the root system. Obviously, that will rule out the vast majority of roses, even from the "very cold hardy" lists.

Thanks for the ideas.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 1:25PM
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Canadian hardy roses are good down to zone 3...but I'm not sure about anywhere that cold. I believe Snow Pavement (a pretty little white rose with lavender edges) is very cold hardy, as is Therese Bugnet. They might be worth a look, too :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 1:27PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Four rose bushes survive where the ag expt station used to be in Wyoming. Two are Suzanne, one is R. laxa (not the rootstock) and R. practincola. That's five decades of hideously cold weather, no protection in a near desert situation (so not dependable snow cover). just so you know some hip shapes to look for.

(Off topic) Did you ever get a copy of Stephen Elliot's paper about the Cherokee Rose from that Charleston periodical)?


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 2:49PM
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Thanks Ann. No, I don't have the article -- was it not by Charles Walker? Or are we talking some other publication?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 3:08PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

The article was published posthumously by a friend of Stephen Elliot's. He died and left two manuscripts ready to be published.
At the time, he had already published the Flora of the Carolinas and was in correspondence with anyone who was anyone in Botany in the early 1800's.
He had some specific comments about where he thought the Cherokee Rose had come and he had even employed Mattias Kin to explore the land of the Cherokee for him.

I have a copy somewhere (not digital) and will make a copy for you.

There is a section about Stephen Elliot on the Harvard Herbarium (Asa Gray) website as well as a picture/engraving taken from a bank note as he was also president of the Bank of South Carolina.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 12:41AM
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dr merkele was my pop
he never was in siberia
he was given a cutting of the dr merkeley rose by a patient
as i recall this patient was from northern europe and brought the rose with him to canada
we grew several hundred of them in our garden in charleswood,outside of winnipeg
I know because i weeded them
incidentally my dad put the extra "e" in merkley-don't know why,never asked him

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:11PM
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When up in Anchorage and Juneau on business, I often see rugosas. The locals call them "Sitka" (after the SE town of Sitka). They seem to do well.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Yes, Rugosas should be fine in Anchorage and Juneau. The problem, of course, is that the Denali area is very much colder. While I was there in October, I looked for what roses I could find. At the botanic garden at UA (Fairbanks) they seemed to have quite a lot of Rugosas, but of course, who knows how they do after a really cold winter. But they may be fine.

Thanks again to all the commenters.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Welcome to the forum. What an interesting Dad you had. Do you grow roses?
Hope you continue to post.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 8:45PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

My sister lives in Anchorage. Roses are generally bought at Costco and grown as annuals.

On the other hand, Peonies are magnificent and effortless there (no ants) and live for decades, provided the moose don't eat them. And Meconopsis is easy there. It's nearly impossible most other places. The Delphiniums can get two stories high.

So there are consolations.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:52PM
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It's not the temp that kills roses, it's the wind. We once had a winter back in the 80's when it was about ten below with a 30 mph wind. I lost every single flower, even the daisies.
Grafts die, too.
Rosa multiflora has been tested to zone 2 and that is why it has been used a lot as a rootstock. I have tested all kinds looking for cane hardiness, but none matches my Hallie's Rose, which goes to 8-10 feet and never loses its canes.
I think it may be similar to High Country Banshee, sold by High Country Roses, which they found in a graveyard in Denver.
I would like to send Hallie's Rose somewhere to be tested for its parentage.
I checked out Hurdalrosen but they say its scentless. Hallie's Rose is highly scented.
Those Canadian Explorers can be disappointing. Two feet plants with pretty boring flower mops on top.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:05AM
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seil zone 6b MI

I know several people in Michigan's UP, zone 3 and even someone in Alaska who grows roses and they are not annuals. And they are not just rugosas and species roses either. They have HTs, flories, shrubs and minis. They do have to do some heavy duty winter protection but they have beautiful roses every year!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Kaylah, Wind is, indeed, a very important factor. But most roses are "temperate" species, meaning that they die at almost precisely -40 degrees, even in the complete absence of wind. That's a true death-by-cold situation. So what is needed is a "boreal" type -- a species or hybrid not affected by even colder temps (Fairbanks spent several days at -45 last week). Still, I certainly agree that dehydration by wind and lack of snow cover is a major factor at cold temps warmer than -40.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:29PM
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tom__alaska(zone 2/3 AK)

We not only grow roses in Alaska we even have an "Alaska Rose Society" here in Southcentral, "Anchorage", with a website.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:34AM
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Back in the olden days, when I was a kid, it would hit 40 below sometimes. In spite of climate deniers, it never does anymore. Rosa foetida types always made it, and of course, our native wild roses. I knew an old lady who grew a climbing yellow rose on the side of her house for a long time, which I think might have been a Brownell.
I agree that temps that cold will kill all kinds of things. We had one terrible winter that hit 50 below. There were dead trees all over town next spring.
Ann, where did Stephen Elliot think the Cherokee Rose came from? Do you remember that really long thread we had 13-14 years ago called The Banks of Certain Rivers?
Jon of Wessex started it. Everybody was trying to figure out where the Cherokee rose came from.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 4:11PM
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I remember that thread well. I wonder if anyone saved it.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:11AM
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Also a series of excellent threads called "How Do You Pronounce" parts one, two, maybe even three. I had them saved at one point but that was several computers ago and they did not make the transfer.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Kaylah - send me an email. I may be able to help you on that thread.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:04PM
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