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Selecting Roses for your Garden

Of the thousands of rose cultivars available, which are best for your garden? Much depends on your goals and the amount of time, energy, and resources you want to devote to your rose garden. Some roses, such as hybrid teas, are notoriously high-maintenance, but other cultivars are more disease-resistant and easier to maintain. To survive in northeastern Kansas, roses must be winter-hardy. They must also survive summers that can be hot and humid.

To narrow down the choices, here are some places to start:

All American Rose Selection (AARS) Winners

The All American Rose Selection program was organized by rose producers in 1938. Its purpose was to promote the use of roses in the landscape and to encourage breeders to develop new and improved varieities. New rose varieties are tested for two years. Each year, two or more varieties are selected as winners. The list of AARS is like a "who's who" of the rose world. Many varieties, selected years ago, are still popular in today's gardens. Here's a complete list of All American Rose Selection winners, from 1940 to present.

American Rose Society "Roses in Review" Rating

Each year members of the American Rose Society are invited to participate in the annual evaluation of new rose introductions. This program is referred to as "Roses in Review," or RIR. Recently introduced roses are evaluated in a number of different categories for three consecutive years beginning with their second year in commerce. The scoring system used is as follows:

9.3 - 10
One of the best roses ever Scores in this range are seldom awarded
8.8 - 9.2
An outstanding rose One with major positive features and essentially no negatives, the top 1%
8.3 - 8.7
A very good to excellent rose One recommended without hesitation
7.8 - 8.2
A solid to very good rose Its good features easily outweigh any problems. Well above average.
7.3 - 7.7
A good rose A little to somewhat above average
6.8 - 7.2
An average rose  
6.1 - 6.7
A below average rose  
0.0 - 6.0
Not recommended  

Every year the RIR ratings for more than 3,000 varieties are published in a pocket-sized handbook called the "Handbook for Selecting Roses." This book is sent at no charge to every member of the American Rose Society, or may be purchased at the web site for the American Rose Society. The book is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse. Take it with you to the nursery. When you see a rose that looks promising, check its RIR rating.

Disease Resistant Roses

Maybe you're looking for a rose that needs little or no spraying. Consider the roses in this list of disease resistant roses.

Cold-Hardy Roses

If you don't want to worry about covering your roses with soil or mulch for the winter, consider some of the roses in this list of cold-hardy roses.

Roses for Partial Shade

To grow their best, roses should be planted in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunshine daily. What if you don't have such a sunny spot? Consider the varieties on this list of roses for partial shade. They perform well in as little as 4 hours of sun per day.

Fragrant Roses

So you have a full-sun location, and you're willing to do the maintenance work, but you simply must have fragrance. This list of fragrant roses may include the perfect rose for you.