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Try these hardy roses for your garden

Submitted by: Robin Trott, Extension educator

If you’ve wandered through any of the colorful rose gardens in Minnesota, you may be wondering if you could include some of this beauty in your own yard.

You can have roses in your garden with minimum maintenance and maximum color! How? By planting northern hardy shrub roses.

Hardy shrub roses make an excellent addition to your “gardenscape” while requiring no special winter care. Usually these roses are grown on their own root stock, so even if the tops die back in hard winters, they will still sprout true the following spring.

Remember, not all “hardy shrub roses” survive Minnesota winters. Look at the hardiness zone listed on the label. (Douglas County is located in cold hardiness Zone 4A.)

In the early 1990s, University of Minnesota started its own rose breeding program and in 2008, added three new cultivars to the hardy shrub rose line-up: Sven, Ole, and Lena. In 2012, Sigrid was added to complete the collection.

Part of the Northern Accents Series, these mounding plants bloom throughout the growing season. Plant breeder Kathy Zuzek, who has devoted 20 years to developing these varieties, says that even though the flowers are small (1-2 inches across), they produce “hundreds at a time with wave after wave of bloom.” Because the plants die back to the ground every winter,

they reach a height of only 2 to 3 feet. But, unlike many roses, they need no special care to survive winter.

Ole: Semi-double, blush pink flowers that fade to white. Has the greatest number of flowers among the varieties and a more spreading growth habit. About 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Lena: Frilly pink and white single flowers. The most disease-resistant of the group. Grows to about 2 1/2 feet tall.

Sven: Mauve to purple double flowers that are darker and larger in cooler weather. The most fragrant variety, 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall.

Sigrid: Large clusters of red, double flowers. Grows to about 3 1/2 feet tall.

Each of these varieties is available at your local garden center and can be planted through mid-summer.

If you are adding roses to your landscape this year, remember these helpful hints:

● Plant roses in full sun (at least six hours/day).

● Don’t crowd roses. Good air circulation fights disease.

● Keep soil cool and moist with a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch.

● Fertilize monthly through August.

● Cover with leaves in the fall as added winter insurance.

● In the spring, prune out winter kill and shape bushes for summer bloom.

Until next time, happy gardening!