Discover 3 Winter-Hardy Roses to Grow in North Dakota

Written by Fern Damron
Updated: August 23, 2023
© Batechenkofff/
Share this post on:


Growing roses in North Dakota can be a challenge. Winters in the state are no joke, and they’re the primary obstacle rose gardeners must face in the north. Luckily, though, several roses have proven their ability to handle the cold.

3 Cold Hardy Roses for North Dakota Gardens

If you’re considering planting roses in North Dakota, the cultivars below will be good choices. Each one is well-equipped to handle the state’s harsh winds and cold temperatures, to at least zone 4, with little or no aid.

Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana)

What better rose to plant in your garden than a native species? The Prairie rose, Rosa arkansana, is a gorgeous and winter-hardy rose that received the title of State Flower in 1907. It is a wonderful choice of rose that is friendly to local pollinators.

This species appears throughout the state where it grows wild along roadsides, foothills, drainage ditches, and pastures. It is a very versatile plant in its growing conditions. It grows readily in a variety of soil types, including those that are poor or slightly alkaline. Oftentimes, it is one of the first plants to reappear after fires or soil disturbances. Its roots grow deeply into the soil, contributing to its incredible tolerance to drought. While it can withstand drought conditions, it does not tolerate wet feet. Soil that remains wet for too long may cause root rot.

The prairie rose produces a multitude of delicate, one-inch blooms throughout the summer. They appear at the tips of the canes in varying numbers. While they may appear singly, they oftentimes grow in clusters of at least 5 flowers. Each one is a gentle pink in color and has a bright center of golden stamens. As the blooms fade, those that have received pollen give way to edible, bright red rosehips.

Rosa arkansana, the prairie rose, is North Dakota's state flower.
The prairie rose is North Dakota’s state flower. Its delicate, single blooms and golden-yellow stamens bring grace and beauty to any northern rose garden. Being a native rose, it is well-equipped to handle the state’s winters.


Rosa ‘Icecap’

Icecap‘ is one of the best-suited roses for North Dakota gardens. The cultivar received American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) Local Artist Award for its outstanding performance during regional testing. It ran the gamut of low-input trials in nearby Dilworth, Minnesota, overwintering without any aid and resisting pests and diseases without any fertilizer or pesticides. It repeated its performance in four other regions of the country as well, earning it the A.R.T.S. Master Rose designation for its versatility.

As cut flowers or garden accents, the crisp, white blooms of this cultivar are truly showstoppers, appearing nonstop throughout the summer. Each ruffled, double bloom contains about 25 petals and measures about 2 inches in diameter.

Icecap is a great cultivar to grow in tight spaces. The bush itself is very compact, ranging in size from 2–4 feet in both height and width. When laying out your garden, be sure to consider the plant’s size at maturity. You’ll want to leave at least a foot of space between plants to allow for good airflow. Although Icecap displays very high natural resistance to blackspot and powdery mildew, providing good airflow to all parts of the plant helps ensure healthy growth.

Many clusters of Icecap roses.
Rosa ‘Icecap’ has received an A.R.T.S. Local Artist award for its disease resistance and winter hardiness. It can survive zone 4 winters completely unaided.


Rosa ‘Music Box’

The cultivar ‘Music Box‘ participated alongside ‘Icecap’ in the Dilworth, Minnesota A.R.T.S. rose trials. There, it demonstrated its ability to withstand a Fargo winter (USDA zone 4) with only a layer of mulch to help it along. At the end of the first season, three test bushes were left to overwinter on their own. The next spring, they reappeared and began producing new, healthy growth.

This cultivar boasts a natural resistance to common foliar diseases, especially blackspot, and powdery mildew, meaning that it will retain its glossy foliage throughout the growing season. Planting it in a full sun position and observing good watering practices will help bolster this natural resistance. Ideally, situate this cultivar where it receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day with some shelter during the afternoon hours.

More than just hardy, ‘Music Box’ is a uniquely beautiful cultivar. Beginning in the spring and continuing until the frost, it produces a multitude of long-lived blooms. The golden yellow centers of its double blooms fade gracefully to a blush pink at the margins with a full gradient in between. As they age on the bush, they become fully pink. The blooms can last a week or more on the bush before becoming spent, at which point they will fall off on their own — no need to deadhead.

'Music Box' has been shown to overwinter with little or no assistance down to zone for. It's a perfect choice for North Dakota rose gardens.
Rosa ‘Music Box’ was a participant in the A.R.T.S. trials that took place in Dilworth, Minnesota. Like ‘Icecap’, it displayed an outstanding ability to thrive in the region’s growing zones.

©Nadya So/

Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.