Meeting consumer needs for the perfect Canadian rose

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – A new, homegrown rose is about to hit the Canadian market and it’s been carefully selected with the consumer in mind.

The Canadian Shield rose is the first variety to be released by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) and, after in-depth research into consumer wants and needs, meets all of their key “must-haves.”  That’s according to Lana Culley, Director of Business Development at Vineland.

“Canadian Shield is cold-hardy, disease resistant and low maintenance,” she says of the variety originally bred by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant breeders. “The bush is large, covered in flowers, and a repeat bloomer from July through to October.”

The vibrant red blossom is a full flower with plenty of petals, and the foliage is dark green and glossy. And, the rose’s name: ‘Canadian Shield,’ is already trademarked.

Canadian Shield will survive in Canada’s sub-arctic climate zone 2B, or up to -42.8 Celsius, and it is tolerant to black spot and powdery mildew, two common rose diseases that cause the bush to lose its leaves mid-season. It’s also self-cleaning, which means petals that start to brown will fall off by themselves, eliminating the need for pruning.

All this combines to make the rose very low maintenance for gardeners, something that is extremely important, as Vineland learned during its consumer research.

The variety was originally selected in 2014 with its release timed to coincide with Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017. The last couple of years have been spent getting licenses in place, producing tissue culture, and getting plantlets out to the 21 licensed growers from British Columbia to New Brunswick.

The plant will be available at independent garden centres and mass retailers across Canada, but only in limited quantities as it’s the variety’s first year, Culley cautions. A website for consumers with purchase locations is in development.And excitement about the new rose is building. Canada Blooms, the nation’s largest garden and flower festival, has selected Canadian Shield as its 2017 Plant of the Year, which Culley says is a welcome boost to Vineland’s marketing efforts.

“Plant of the Year is huge for us. They selected us based on the strong Canadian story the rose tells:   Canadian Shield is bred in Canada, first launched in Canada, and grown by Canadian growers from coast to coast,” she explains.

Canadian Shield is the first release in Vineland’s new 49th Parallel Collection, which will feature new varieties stemming from the Vineland rose breeding program headed by Dr. Parminder Sandhu. The first Vineland-bred release will hit the market in 2019 as part of the curated collection, which will ultimately encompass five to seven varieties.

“This collection is all about Canadian natural phenomena and natural beauty. We tested many concepts with consumers and Canada’s natural beauty resonated more with them than historical linkages, especially with younger gardeners,” Culley explains.

Partners include the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, Landscape Ontario, Landscape Alberta, and Landscape Manitoba, as well as partner nurseries and growers across Canada that participate in variety testing.

Vineland’s rose breeding program is supported by the AgriInnovation Program, part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Photo source: Vineland