More Sustainable Roses for Northern Gardeners

If you’ve read our May/June issue of Northern Gardener, you may have seen the article by Randy Nelson and David Zlesak about sustainable roses for our climate. Randy and David are researchers working with the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.), a group that is testing and reporting on roses that are particularly adapted to different climates. These are roses that grow well with no winter protection, very little fertilizer or supplemental water and no chemicals. In other words, they are tough!

The article includes a list of about a dozen roses that will work well for northern gardeners. However, just as we went to press, six more roses were added to the “Local Artist” list for our area. While we can’t guarantee you will find them, you may want to check for these 2021 winners at your local nursery or garden center.

Brindabella Purple Prince™ (‘GRAppl’). This rose has  large, double, high-centered, purple blooms that emit a rich citrus-like scent. This floribunda has a dense mounded plant habit.


sustainable rose coral

Coral Knock Out rose Photo courtesy of David Zlesak

Coral Knock Out® (‘RADral’) This member of the Knock Out family of roses boasts clusters of warm peachy orange blooms that are borne aboundantly throughout the season on a full and mounded shrub rose. A vibrant color is offset magnificently by its foliage that starts out red and matures to a rich green.

Flower Carpet Pink Supreme (‘NOA168098F’) Flower Carpet roses have been around a long time and are a great groundcover. This rose has massive clusters of double hot-pink blooms produced on vigorous, cascading plants. It has glossy foliage and is well suited to humid climates.


Oso easy double pink

Oso Easy Double Pink rose Photo courtesy of David Zlesak

Oso Easy Double Pink (‘MEIriftday’) I grew one of the Oso Happy Smoothie roses in my former garden and loved it! This comes from Proven Winners, too, and it is easy to grow, which should make northern gardeners happy. It features clusters of double, medium-pink blooms that cover this low growing shrub rose throughout the season. It grows wider than tall and makes a great front of the border ground cover.

True Bloom™  True Grace This is one of a series of shrub roses from Altmann Plants. It has blush-pink double blooms of this shrub rose are contrasted well by the dark attractive foliage.

True Bloom™ True Romance  Another in the series, this rose has very full warm pink blooms on a shrub form.



  1. Natalie Carmolli on June 18, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    I love this! Thanks so much for posting this information about the newest additions to the fine lineup of A.R.T.S. awards winners!

  2. Melissa McConnell on June 24, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    These are great, but aren’t there others for MN with different colors? We moved in February and I’ve been working on redoing the gardens at the house and want to have a rose garden in the back corner, but everything is pink. I’m just not a fan. I like the darker colors, deeper colors. Are there any like that you could suggest.

    • Mary Lahr Schier on June 25, 2020 at 2:18 am

      Our May/June issue has a dozen more listed, including some dark ones. You might want to check with a local nursery. They know which roses do well here and which ones are lower maintenance.

  3. […] hope you’ll check out the podcast episode with David, where he talks at length about new rose varieties that grow well in our northern climate and do not require excessive fertilizer, fungicide or other […]

  4. Rita on July 7, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    There are many David Austin roses as well as a number of heirloom varieties such as Salet that grow in Minnesota without any special care. My Griffin Bucks have performed exceeding well too. These roses are a great alternative for those who want a more classic looking rose as opposed to a rugosa rose. I’m in Minneapolis Zone 4.

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