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Roses That Can Take the Heat

Roses That Can Take the Heat

Master Rosarian Debbie Arrington has the best roses for hot climates


“Of all flowers, methinks rose is best”. Shakespeare said that. He lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, about halfway between London and Birmingham, England. However, the roses he saw 600 years ago never endured 100 degree heat…until recently.

Although roses were found originally in Central Asia, they spread quickly throughout the Northern Hemisphere between the 12th and 18th centuries.

Those old roses wouldn’t stand a chance in the heatwaves of the 21st century, succumbing to scorched flowers, leaves, and buds…as well as dying off due to a lack of regular watering in drought-effected areas.

Of course, hybridization of roses in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries has created varieties that can withstand a number of modern ailments, including air pollution.

So, what are the modern roses that can take the heat, when temperatures hit 100 degrees for several days in a row? What are the traits of a heat-tolerant rose?

Master Rosarian Debbie Arrington of the Sacramento Rose Society (and the Sacramento Digs Gardening blog) enumerated several in the podcast at the top of this page. Sacramento (City Motto: “At Least It’s a Dry Heat”) is no stranger to prolonged, triple digit heat waves, which can occur anytime from May through September. So, the area is a good testing ground for roses that maintain their color, health and vigor throughout spring, summer - and sometimes fall - heatwaves. One trait many of these have in common: these rose bushes produce light-colored blooms of white, pink or yellow. Most red roses, Arrington explains, absorb more of the heat, and will be among the first to scorch. Sorry about that, Bobby Darin.

Among the roses on Debbie Arrington’s list of heat-tolerant roses:


Iceberg rose
Iceberg Rose

Iceberg is a floribunda rose, a class of roses characterized, according to the American Rose Society’s Handbook for Selecting Roses, by its “profuse ability to bear flowers in large clusters or trusses with more than one bloom in flower at any one time. This class is unrivaled for providing massive, colorful, long-lasting garden displays… Floribundas are hardier, easier to care for and more reliable in wet weather than their hybrid tea counterparts.” Iceberg was introduced in 1958.

Julia Child

Julia Child roses

Master Rosarian Charlotte Owendyk of the Sierra Foothills Rose Society loves Julia Child so much, it lines her walkway. A floribunda with medium yellow blooms, this 2005 introduction - one that is also on Debbie Arrington’s list of heat tolerant roses - is also an American Rose Society’s Members’ Choice winner and an All-America Rose Selections champion.


Joy miniature rose

One of my favorite miniature roses that blooms it’s little head off, despite being grown in a container, sitting on reflective rocks, facing south, with the hottest side of the house right behind it. Debbie Arrington likes it, too. A pink blend, Joy was introduced in 2007. Joy was an American Rose Society Award of Excellence Winner, as well as an ARS Members’ Choice winner.

Your Harvest to Better Health Begins at Dave Wilson Nursery!

Here are a few other roses that are heat-tolerant, according to Debbie Arrington. Listen to her descriptions of these roses in the podcast at the top of the page.

Shockwave (Floribunda)

Day Breaker (Floribunda)

First Prize (Hybrid Tea)

Baldo Villegas and his namesake rose (mini-floribunda)

And, I’m out of room for more pictures. The rest of the heat tolerant roses that Debbie mentions in the podcast:

Edisto (miniature)

Whirlaway (mini-floribunda)

Innocence (miniature)

The Drift Series of low growing shrub roses

The Knock Out collection of landscape roses, especially Home Run.

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Fred Hoffman is also a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in Sacramento County.

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