This is a rose certification program from Texas A & M University. It is completely different from the roses that I’ve discussed so far because Texas A & M studies existing roses of all types for the same characteristics of drought tolerance, and pest and disease resistance. No breeding is involved, and no new roses are introduced.
In general, a rose that undergoes study in the Earth Kind trials spends 4 years at Texas A & M. It then spends another 4 years in various parts of Zones 7-9 Texas undergoing trials. There are now various Earth Kind trial gardens in other states as well (for those concerned, as I was, about the hardiness of these cultivars).
During the 8 year trial period, no fertilizer of any kind is permitted. No irrigation, after the initial year, is permitted. No pesticides are used. (In short, these roses are grown very much as if they are in my yard!)
A list of these roses can be found at the Texas A & M web site. The original Knockout® rose, for example, is one of the EarthKind® roses. Another common rose that is widely available that has been certified as an Earthkind® is a polyantha rose called ‘The Fairy.’ The photo above is of a version of the ‘Fairy’ rose called the ‘Red Fairy.’
The EarthKind® program has two types of climbers and three sizes of shrub roses currently certified. One hybrid tea has been found worthy of being called an EarthKind rose.
If you are searching for sustainable roses but are not currently in love with any of the offerings that the breeders have on the market, perhaps this is the answer for you. It certainly gives rose growers and lovers a variety of options.