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Choose the Right Rose for Your Region

Choose the Right Rose for Your Region

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Rose trialing organizations provide a valuable service in helping you select the varieties that will perform the best in your region. The first national rose trialing organization was All-America Rose Selections (AARS). It was founded in 1939 by 17 large rose growers to establish a network of test gardens to evaluate the performance of new varieties. Roses were evaluated for two years on qualities including disease resistance, flowers, form and ability to grow in many climates.

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The top-performing roses are promoted as AARS winners.  Among them are classics that are still on the market today, like Mr. Lincoln, Julia Child, Double Delight and Knock Out. While the AARS organization disbanded in 2013, it was replaced by the American Garden Rose Selections (AGRS) program in 2016. In addition to garden performance, roses receive awards for fragrance. The AGRS website, American Garden Rose Selections - Home, makes it easy to view award-winning roses by region and choose the most fragrant.

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Another rose trialing organization, American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) focuses on environmentally conscious gardening. Varieties are evaluated in a “no spray” environment, which means no applications of fungicides, insecticides, miticides or fertilizers. Roses are trialed in 9 regions and compete to win Local Artist regional awards. Those that win at least four regions receive Master Rose awards. Check out the A.R.T.S. website, American Rose Trials for Sustainability®

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Shrub roses are a newer category for Suntory Flowers in which we partner with third-party breeders. Our two lines are the full-sized, fragrant Brindabella roses and compact Sunrosa roses. Participating in national rose trials has helped us promote their performance with confidence. For instance, our Brindabella roses were bred in Australia. We really didn’t know the hardiness performance until they were trialed in the Northern United States. We had been selecting varieties in Florida for heat tolerance, disease resistance, and fragrance.

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Both Brindabella Purple Prince and Pink Princess have received the AGRS fragrance award and regional awards. Although the two varieties are related, their regional performance varied slightly. Purple Prince won the Northeast, South Central and Southwest. Two years later, Pink Princess won South Central, Southeast and Southwest. Purple Prince also received a Local Artist Award for performance in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, very cold climates.

Next time you are ready to shop for roses, peruse the AGRS and ARTS websites. Have an oldy but goody in your yard? Maybe it’s an AARS winner!

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