Guides For Selecting Roses

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to how well my roses are performing in my garden. I am beginning to ask myself, am I really buying roses that will perform well in my “neck of the woods”?

I have come to realize that just because a rose is for sale in your neighborhood doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform well in your garden. Obviously, I cannot speak for every garden center, but for the most part the big box stores just put out whatever arrives from the distribution center with little thought as to whether or not the shipment contains roses that are appropriate for that particular growing zone.  This practice; in my opinion, has only added to the notion that roses are hard to grow. When in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

When equipped with the right information, selecting and growing roses that are suitable for your gardening zone is the first step toward beautiful blooms. With two weeks of joining the American Rose Society, I received a little book in the mail. The American Rose Society Guide For Selecting Roses is the quintessential guide for rose selection.

This annual publication contains ratings for more than 3,000 varieties of roses. The ratings are derived from a compilation of reports from people who actually grow the rose being rated. The annual “Roses in Review” survey is distributed each year to the membership of the ARS and also to garden clubs and others who grow roses. You do not have to be an ARS member to rate your roses. Participants are asked to rate roses based on hardiness, disease resistance and growth habit.  It does not rate every rose every year, but rates newer varieties as they emerge over the course of several years to form a rating along with other criteria.  Roses are rated 0.0 – 10.0. I have learned from experience to try to select roses that have at least been rated a 7.5 or higher. Some roses that are highly rated still may not be suitable for your particular climate.

Enter, your local rose society.  Local societies are well equipped with individuals who have first hand knowledge of what grows well in local gardens. I joined my local rose society and my garden exploded with growth from the encouragement and information I received.

During my recent interview with Paul Zimmerman on Rose Chat Radio, he stated that every local rose society should publish a list of what roses do well in that particular area. That stung me a bit. I knew that our local society published no such list. Well, at least not yet.  By the end of September we will publish and forever update such a list that we will provide free of charge to anyone who requests it.

Check out this guide. It can be obtained for $5. If you become a member of the American Rose Society, it is sent to you each year as a part of your membership. Also check out your local rose society, both are time and money well spent. Click HERE to find your local ARS chapter.

It pays to be informed.



About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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4 Responses to Guides For Selecting Roses

  1. Pingback: Guides For Selecting Roses | Natural Soil Nutrients |

  2. elenawill says:

    Good to hear you are getting local with your recommendations. Both Seattle and Tacoma publish such lists and It was helpful for making decisions from local experience for my new garden. That said, I also tale my Handbook for selectuon to gardencenters for consultation. That dara comes from Roses in Review and any rosarian in the USA ccan participate and comment via the ARS web site.


  3. Yummygal says:

    I love your work and roses. Always a great read!


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