Photo courtesy of Le_Not
Listing last updated on 29 Feb 2024.
USDA Zone: 5b (-15 to -10 F / -26.1 - 23.4 C)
Iowa is not known as a terribly rose-friendly climate: we have hot, humid summers with regular drought, and bitterly cold winters (often without consistent snow cover). My garden is thus an experiment: mostly I just want to know whether one can grow beautiful roses here without resorting to extreme winter-protection measures. The most I do is a few shovelfuls of mulch around the base of the less-hardy plants, and some wire caging to deter rabbits. (Here I should mention that not all of my listed roses are overwintered in-ground. I keep 'Deuil de Dr Reynaud', 'Lady Hillingdon', "Miriam Wilkins", and 'Peace' in pots, and overwinter them in an unheated garage.)
My roses are all own-root, mostly because I don't want to deal with the bother of rootstock suckers. I find myself drawn particularly to nineteenth-century roses, which I think best balance the charms of old roses with repeat-flowering.
The soil here is a clay-loam that's fairly alkaline (7.5); I've worked plenty of compost into it, more to improve drainage than anything else. I have a mix of sun, partial shade, and dappled shade, due to two ancient and venerable black walnut trees on the lot. Though some people claim that roses are sensitive to juglone, the chemical produced by these trees, I have several roses directly under them, and have noticed no ill effects. I consider myself fortunate that I have an east-facing backyard, so many of my roses are protected from the hottest afternoon sun.
I entreat other rose-growers with experience in such conditions to share any advice they may have. I only started this endeavor in 2019, so I have much to learn.