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Minnesota Rose Trials: Toughest roses in the Region!

Roses tested in Dilworth, MN. Shown are trials for 2015 to 2018.
Photo: Randy Nelson, Clay County Extension Educator
Did you know UMN Extension is part of a National Rose Trial and has been since 2015?  The trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability® (A.R.T.S. ®) program that has trial sites across the United States.

Since 2012, the goal of A.R.T.S. ® is to identify roses that perform well in a given region when grown under "minimal input conditions." So what does that mean for gardeners?

The program identifies roses that survive without pesticides, fertilizer--and aren't even covered in the winter! Read on...

How does the trial work?

Clay County Extension Educator Randy Nelson has been managing and overseeing the trial since 2015, which is located in Dilworth, MN. Clay County is mostly Zone 4a (-30F to -25F); just a bit of the western edge of the county is Zone 3b (-35F to -30F).

Each year starts a new trial with 20 cultivars (three of each kind are planted). The trial is run for two years (evaluations start the year of planting and finish the following year so roses only go through one winter).

Roses being tested in the A.R.T.S. ® trial may be watered the year after planting if needed (all roses are watered for proper establishment during the season they were planted).  But, here's what these roses don't receive:

  • no pesticides 
  • no deadheading
  • no pruning (except to remove winter-killed canes in the spring, or those killed by rodents)
  • no fertilizer (compost is added prior to planting)
  • no winter cover

Trial sites are covered with a 3-inch layer of wood mulch.

Picking the winners

Each rose is evaluated monthly during the growing season by volunteers (Extension Master Gardeners). They rate the roses on a 10-point scale, judging them for their foliage, flowers and plant form.

Any cultivar in a given region that scores higher than the average of the check cultivars and has greater than 50% survival is given the A.R.T.S. ®  Local Artist award. Any rose that receives the A.R.T.S. ® Local Artist award in four or more regions is given the A.R.T.S. ® Master Rose award.

(Drum roll) And the winning roses are....? 

Here are the winning roses for our region--that means, these are roses that will do well in our particular climate (temperature and precipitation): 
  • Highwire Flyer™ (‘RADwire’) 
  • Icecap™ (‘MEIradena’)
  • Look-A-Likes® Apple Dapple (‘MEIplumty’) 
  • Look-A-Likes® BougainFeelYa (‘MEIckinava’)
  • Miracle on the Hudson (‘Bartholomew’)
  • Music Box™ (‘BAIbox’)
  • Peachy Knock Out® (‘RADgor’)
  • Peppermint Pop™ (‘RADcarn’)
  • Petaluma Cover® Towne & Country® (POUltc004)
  • Phloxy Baby™ (‘RADcleome’)
  • Raspberry Kiss™ (‘CHEwsumsigns’)
  • Screaming Neon Red™ (‘BAIneon’)
  • True Integrity™ (‘LIMbird’)
  • True Passion™ (‘LIM10’) 
For more information about these trials and trial results, go to:

Here's a link to the national trials website:

Authors: Randy Nelson, Extension Educator and Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist and Professor

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