Growing Roses in Montana

By Francis Walcott

(submitted in 1994)

First, physical and climatic conditions where I grow them. Altitude is just over 4000 feet. Climate is extremely variable. Most winters, but not all, temperatures drop to -40 ° or below, but usually for only a few nights, then sometimes, especially with a good Chinook wind, it can rise dramatically, up to +50 ° or 60 °. That doesn't last long either. Generally nights are between -10 ° and +25 °. Usually there is not much snow, and it doesn't last long enough to provide a good plant covering. Here it is flat, and the cold air can settle. The last freeze in spring is generally no later than early May, but sometimes in June. The first autumn frost is usually mid to late September, but in 1992 in hit on August 25th. In spring and early autumn the temperature spread routinely exceeds 50 ° or even 60 °. In summer afternoon high temperatures are usually in the 80's but can top degrees. Lows are generally in the 40's. This is a semi-arid area without much rain but ample water available from the snow runoff from the Bentooth Mountains just to the south. All in all it is not a benign climate, but a good mixing of the roses grow well for me. Specifically, what roses grow well here? I am, of course, listing only those I grow in my garden. No doubt there are others, but these I know about.

  • The Albas: most, but not all of them. 'Köenigin von Dänmark ('Queen of Denmark'), 'Alba Maxima', 'Great Maidens Blush' and R. alba suaveolens do well.
  • Centafolias, mostly. I have 'Fantin Latour', 'Paul Ricault' and Rosa Centifolia'.
  • Damasks: The most successful is R. damascena trigintipetala now call 'Kazanlik' by the American Rose Society. Also fine and vigorous are 'Madame Hardy', 'Celsiana', 'Gloire de Chambord' is outstanding. 'Marbree' is fine.
  • A few Bourbons do very well with some winter protection including 'Madame Isaac Pereire' and 'Gruss an Teplitz', maybe 'Louise Odier'.
  • Most of the Moss roses do well. I grow 'Alfred de Dalmas, 'Madame Louis Leveque', 'Communis', 'Comtesse de Murinais', 'White Bath, 'Henri Martin', 'William Lobb', 'Soupert et Notting', 'Marie de Blois', 'Duchesse de Verneuil', 'Salet' and 'Gloire des Mousseux'.
  • Many Kordesii are fine here, but not all of them. I have 'Heidelberg', Morgengrüss', 'Leverkusen' and 'Goldstern'.
  • The species rugosas, of course, are sturdy. At least some the hybrids are too, especially 'Will Alderman', 'Blanc Double de Coubert', 'F. J. Grootendorst', 'Belle Poitevine', 'Moje Hammarberg', and my candidate for the most inaccurately named ever, 'Delicata'. It is not the least bit delicate but extremely tough and vigorous.
  • A good many Gallicas do very well here including 'R. gallica officinalis' (now 'Apothecary's Rose'), 'Rosa Mundi', 'Hippolyte', 'Complicata' and 'Duc de Guiche'.
  • Some Hybrid Perpetuals get by here with care. These include 'Paul Neyron', 'Henry Nevard', 'Cardeur Lyonnaise', 'Marchionesse of Lorne', 'Souvenir du Dr. Jamain', 'Baronne Prevost' and George Arends', General Jacqueminiot' seems the hardiest of the lot.
  • Two Griffith Buck roses that do well are 'Carefree Beauty' and 'Summer Wind'.
  • All four Hybrid Spinosissima I have planted here have done very well: 'Frülingsgold', 'Karl Förester', 'Stanwell Perpetaul' and especially 'Suzanne'.
  • That's also true for the Moyessi group. All three I have are excellent and hardy: 'Marguerite Hilling', R. moyessi superba and 'Nevada'.
  • The Eglantine 'Magnifica' and R. rubrifolia grow well here.

Lastly, and sturdiest of all, are the Canadians. All the Explorer series I have planted are excellent. Best has been 'John Cabot', the earliest in my garden, most vigorous and constantly in bloom. Also fine are 'Martin Frobisher', 'John Davis', 'William Baffin' and 'Henry Kelsey'. I have not yet had enough experience with the Morden series but they should be fine. An earlier introduction from Morden, 'Prairie Dawn', does very well.

These roses do well for me under my sometimes difficult conditions. There is no guarantee as to how well they might do in any other garden.