Many gardeners love growing roses due to their elegant and fragrant flowers. But before you plant a rose bush in your garden, it’s helpful to learn if these plants are annuals or perennials.
Are Roses Annuals or Perennials?
Roses are perennial plants, which means they can live for multiple years. If you grow them in a suitable environment, they will die back in the winter and resume growth the following spring. Most roses will grow as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 5–10.
What Is a Perennial Plant?
Perennials are plants that live for more than two years. They may complete their life cycle in a single growing season, or it may take them multiple years before they produce flowers and seeds.
While perennial plants can survive multiple years, they can still die due to disease, an improper environment, and insect damage.
The alternatives to perennials are annuals and biennials. Annual plants complete their entire life cycle in one year and then die. Biennial plants complete their life cycle in two years and then die.
Rose Life Cycle
Since roses are perennial plants, they can survive for more than one year. Depending on the rose variety and its environment, you can expect your rose to live anywhere from five to 50+ years!
No matter how long your rose ends up living, it will start its life as a small plant. That’s because horticulturists typically propagate roses from cuttings rather than from seed.
When you stroll through a garden center or online store, you’ll see that most roses are sold as either bare root cuttings or potted plants. The main difference between the two is that bare-root cuttings are dormant, and potted plants are actively growing.
No matter what type of plant you purchase, the first step will be to plant the rose in the ground or a large planter so it can start growing. As soon as warm weather arrives, the plant will start growing new roots, shoots, and leaves.
Many roses will produce flowers in their first year. However, you should expect just a handful of flowers rather than hundreds of blooms. Depending on the type of rose, the plants may flower for a few weeks or for multiple months.
Colder weather and shorter days will encourage the plants to stop growing and drop their leaves. You may think your plants are dead when this happens, but they’re just preparing to enter winter dormancy.
During the winter, the plants will stop growing and conserve their energy for the year ahead. When spring arrives, roses will resume growing.
This growth cycle will continue until plants eventually die.
What Growing Zones Are Suitable for Roses?
Roses are perennial plants, but that doesn’t mean they’re immortal! Excessive heat and cold can kill roses, so it’s important to choose a rose variety that is suited to your growing zone. There are also options to pick for eco-friendly rose gardening.
Most types of roses are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5–10. However, you can also find some cold-tolerant roses that can survive in zone 3 and even zone 2.
Since different rose cultivars are suited to different growing zones, you should research each rose variety before planting it in your garden.
If you’re looking for roses that can survive temperatures as low as -30°F, you’ll want to look for varieties hardy to zone 2. These include Rosa rugosa, Rosa hansa, and Rosa acicularis.
You can also find some rose varieties that can survive warmer winters and hot summers. Roses that can survive in zone 11 include Rosa ‘Imogen,’ Rosa ‘Dawn Chorus,’ and Rosa ‘Gabriel Oak.’
Will Roses Come Back Every Year?
Since roses are perennial plants, they will go dormant in the winter and resume growth the following spring. However, extreme cold can kill roses, so you should choose a variety that is well-suited to your hardiness zone.
What Roses Are Suitable for Cold Climates?
The majority of roses can survive winters in zone 5 and above, but some roses are cold-tolerant down to zone 3 and even zone 2. A few roses that can survive extreme cold include Rosa rugosa, Rosa ‘John Davis,’ and Rosa ‘Simon Fraser.’
How Many Years Will Roses Live?
Roses can live for over fifty years, but many plants die before they reach this age. Many modern roses live for six to fifteen years.
Are Roses Annuals or Perennials – Wrapping Up
Roses are perennial plants that will live and flower for multiple years. They will die back in the winter as they enter dormancy and then resume growth the following spring.
For more, see our in-depth guide to rose native range and growing zones, the most fragrant types of roses, the best types of species roses, rose plant deer resistance, how to grow roses from seed, the best types of edible roses, the best types of native North American roses, the rose flowering season, and the best soil mix for growing roses.