Plant these disease resistant roses, tested in PNW

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Last Updated: 
March 1, 2007

CORVALLIS - There's nothing like experience and the test of time, especially when it comes to choosing which roses to plant in your garden.

Pat Patterson, an Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener, has grown dozens of roses on her property west of Eugene for decades without the use of pesticides. About half the varieties performed well and the other half didn't do so well, as suffered from diseases such as mildew, rust and black spot.

Here's Patterson's list of winners, a treasure trove of hearty healthy rose varieties that have performed well under less-than-perfect conditions. For background, Patterson's property lies on the west side of the Oregon Coast Range at about 1,200 feet above sea level.

"My roses grow in raised beds six to 12 inches high and my soil varies from gumbo clay to sandstone," said Patterson. "The soil they grow in has excellent tilth and drainage. We tend to be a bit wetter and colder than the Eugene area. My place is surrounded by and interspersed with Douglas-fir forest, so air flow often leaves something to be desired.

"Many of my roses are not getting the full eight-hour sun days," she continued. "Many get four to five. Most get five to six hours of sun. We overhead irrigate with a rainbird irrigation system that also is used for our pastures.

"There are wild roses in the vicinity that serve as a reservoir of rose diseases. We do not spray for anything on the roses, just prune as needed. We have large populations of beneficial insects because of the way the garden is managed, so even aphids are rarely a problem. The soil is heavily amended with mature compost as well. I have about twice as many roses as I listed, but some have disease problems and the others are still being tested for disease resistance. I have found many roses listed as disease resistant that look pretty shabby in our garden areas."

The following list of rose varieties stayed disease-resistant for Patterson, without spraying pesticides or fungicides. All prefer full sun, except Rosa alba and Rosa multiflora, which do pretty well with partial or light shading.

Rose Color Fragrance Repeat? Comment
Ghislaine de Feligonde Pale orange Medium Yes Clusters
Prosperity White Medium Yes Clusters
Scentimental Red & white Strong Yes Floribunda
Wonderstripe Rose & white Medium Yes Floribunda
Celsiana Pale pink Strong No Damask clusters
Amber Queen Amber pink Strong Yes Floribunda
Rosamundi Red & white Strong No Tea
George Burns Yellow & red Strong Yes Tea
Hansa Magenta Medium Yes Rugosa
Topaz Jewel Pale yellow Medium Yes Rugosa
Buff Beauty Apricot Strong Yes Musk
Rosa robusta Scarlet Medium Yes Lg. Singles
Sweet Vivian Pink & yellow Medium Yes Patio
Frau Dagmar Hastrup Pink Medium Yes Rugosa
Apothecary Rose Magenta Medium No Very old gallica
Rosa alba White to pink Medium No Very large bush
Rosa multiflora White Medium No Invasive, Clusters
Lavender Lace Pink/lilac Light Yes Sprawling, tall
Eutin Very red Light Yes Floribunda
Blanc Double de Coubert White Strong Yes Rugosa
Robin Hood Rose pink Medium Yes Musk, Clusters
Celestial Pale pink Very strong No Damask, Clusters

Since the fungal diseases rust, powdery mildew and black spot are common in rose gardens in the Pacific Northwest, it is prudent to purchase and plant disease-resistant rose varieties. You'll save yourself a lot of frustration, time and expense.

Before purchasing, read the tags on the roses in the store or the information in the catalog. The tag or description of each variety should state its particular disease resistances.

Each year, new varieties of roses are introduced to the public. Others are taken off the market. So it pays to ask your nursery or local rose experts about new types that have performed well under local conditions.

There is a list of roses recommended by the OSU Extension Service, grown out and tested at the Portland International Rose Test Garden and the Longview, Washington Public Library Rose Garden. The list of roses below has shown to be resistant to rust, powdery mildew and black spot. These varieties may react differently in other areas of the Pacific Northwest. Keep in mind that there may be new introductions on the market. Others may no longer be available.

In addition, the Oregon State University Extension Service has compiled lists of roses that perform well in western Oregon's disease prone conditions. View the complete list of rose cultivar resistance on the OSU Extension Service's On-line Guide to Plant Disease Control.

The most disease-resistant roses on the list are:

  • Hybrid Teas: Electron, Just Joey, Keepsake, Las Vegas, Silver Jubilee and Voodoo.
  • Grandifloras: Love, Tournament of Roses.
  • Floribundas: Europeana, Impatient, Liverpool Echo, Matangi, Play Girl, Playboy, Regensberg, Sexy Rexy, Showbiz, Trumpeter and Viva.
  • Climbers: Dortmund, Dublin Bay, Royal Sunset.

For more information about what kind of roses to buy, especially in other regions of the state, local rose societies and nurseries often have good, up-to-date information about top performing roses in every region of Oregon.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Pat Patterson, Jay Pscheidt