Faculty and Staff

Zlesak, David

David Zlesak

David Zlesak

Professor of Horticulture

Start Year: 2009

Plant and Earth Science
Office: 305 Ag Science Building
Phone: 715-425-4415


Courses Taught:

Horticulture 120: Plants and Society
Horticulture 161: Introduction to Plant Science
Horticulture 200: Plant Propagation
Horticulture 352: Woody Landscape Plants
Horticulture 369: Plant Tissue Culture
Horticulture 452: Arboriculture and Nursery Management

Research Interests:

  • Coordinator of the Northern Earth-Kind® Rose Trials (purpose is to identify well-adapted, low maintenance landscape roses for our northern Midwest region).
  • Woody plant pathology.
  • Breeding regionally-adapted woody and herbaceous landscape plant cultivars.


Harp, D., Hammond, G., Zlesak, D.C., Church, G., Chamblee, M., and S. George, 2020. Landscape performance of buck roses under minimal-input conditions in north-central Texas. HortTechnology 30:231-237.

Harp, D., Hammond, G., Zlesak, D.C., Church, G., Chamblee, M., and S. George, 2019. Flowering, drought and disease tolerance, and landscape performance of landscape roses grown under low input conditions in north-central Texas. HortTechnology 29:234-240.

Zurn, J.D., Zlesak, D.C., Holen, M., Bradeen, J.M., Hokanson, S.C., and N.V. Bassil, 2018. Mapping a Novel Black Spot Resistance Locus in the Climbing Rose Brite EyesTM (‘RADbrite’). Frontiers in Plant Science 9:article 1730

Zlesak, D.C, Zuzek, K., Melcher,M., Hokanson, S.C., Van Schaick, J., Varghese, A., Carlson, C. and F. Ghavami, 2019. SNP Markers Linked to Sex in Dioecous Rosa setigera Michx. Acta Horticulturae 1232:33-40.

Harris, P, Zlesak, D.C., Carlson, C. and F. Ghavami, 2019. Characterization of Rosa ‘Harison’s Yellow’ clones using SNP Markers. Acta Horticulturae 1232:57-62.

Hammond, G., Zlesak, D.C., Schwartz, M., Kukielski, P., George, S., Chamblee, M., Nelson, R., Zuzek, K., McLean, K.A., Freedman, D., and R. Fink, 2019. American Rose Trials for Sustainability® (A.R.T.S.): A new United States rose trialing program for identifying and promoting regionally adapted roses. Acta Horticulturae 1232:193-202.

Roundey, E., Anderson, N., Bedard, C., Scheiber, M., Zlesak, D.C., and D. Byrne, 2019. Rosa palustris and Rosa setigera: Breeding challenges. Acta Horticulturae 1232:41-46.

Zlesak, D.C., Nelson, R., Harp, D., Villarreal, B., Howell, N., Griffin, J., Hammond, G., and S. George, 2017. Performance of landscape roses grown with minimal input in the North-central, Central, and South-central United States. HortTechnology 27(5):718-730.

Bratsch, S., D.C. Zlesak, D. Mollov, and B. Lockhart. 2017. First report of Rose Rosette Virus associated with rose rosette disease in Rosa hybrida in Minnesota. Plant Health Progress 18:102-103.

Zuzek, K., D.C. Zlesak, V. Whitaker, S. McNamara, S.C. Hokanson, 2016. Northern Accents® ‘Lena’, ‘Ole’, ‘Sigrid’, and ‘Sven’: Four cold-hardy polyantha rose cultivars from the University of Minnesota Woody Landscape Plant Breeding Program. HortScience 51(3):296-299.

Harp, D.A., K. Kay, D.C. Zlesak, and S. George. 2015. The effect of rose root size on drought stress tolerance and landscape plant performance. The Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources 28:82-88

Ortiz-Ribbing, L. and D.C. Zlesak. 2015. Student perception of peer review for written and oral undergraduate plant science assignments. Natural Sciences Education 44:112-121.

Mollov, D., B. Lockhart, and D.C. Zlesak. 2015. Symptoms, Transmission, and Detection of Four Rose Viruses. Acta Horticulturae 1064:303-310.

Zlesak, D.C., D.A. Harp, K. Zuzek, J.J. Sloan, A. Owings, and S.W. George. 2015. Earth-Kind® Rose Trialing: An International Model for the Identification of Regionally-adapted Landscape Roses. Acta Horticulturae 1064:123-129.

Zlesak, D.C., A. Clark, J.M. Bradeen, and S.C. Hokanson. 2015. Determining the Association of SCAR Marker ND5E and Resistance to Race 8 of Diplocarpon rosae Wolf in a Diverse Group of Landscape Roses. Acta Horticulturae 1064:79-86.

Mollov, D., B. Lockhart, and D.C. Zlesak. 2014. Complete nucleotide sequence of Rose yellow leaf virus, a new member of the family Tombusviridae. Arch Virol 159:2795-2798.

Zlesak, D.C., J.A. Eustice, and C.L. Gensen. 2014. Ageratum sp. (L.) ‘John Eustice’: A New Vigorous Lavender-blue Flowered Summer Annual. HortScience 49:509-512.

Mollov, D., B. Lockhart, and D.C. Zlesak. 2013. Complete nucleotide sequence of Rosa rugosa leaf distortion virus, a new member of the family Tombusviridae. Arch Virol 158:2617-2620.

Mollov, D., B. Lockhart, and D.C. Zlesak. 2013. Complete nucleotide sequence of rose yellow mosaic virus a novel member of the family Potyviridae. Arch Virol 158:1917-1923.

Zlesak, D.C., K. Zuzek, and S.C. Hokanson. 2013. Gender inheritance and identification of male sterility gene RSMS1 in intra- and inter-specific crosses of dioecious Rosa setigera Michaux. Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology 7:60-64.

Mollov, D., B. Lockhart, D.C. Zlesak, and N. Olszewski. 2012. Complete nucleotide sequence of rose yellow vein virus, a member of the family Caulimoviridae having a novel genome organization. Arch Virol 158:877-880.

Zlesak, D.C., 2012. Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim ‘Donna May’: A new compact, purple-leafed landscape shrub. HortScience 47:1372-1374.

Lockhart, B, D.C. Zlesak, and J. Fetzer, 2011. Identification and partial characterization of six new viruses of cultivated roses in the USA. Acta Horticulturae 901:139-147.

Zlesak, D.C., V.M. Whitaker, S. George, and S.C. Hokanson, 2010. Evaluation of roses from the Earth-Kind® Trials: black spot (Diplocarpon rosae Wolf) resistance and ploidy. HortScience 45:177-1787.

Zlesak, D.C., 2009. Pollen diameter and guard cell length as predictors of ploidy in diverse rose cultivars, species, and breeding lines. In: Zlesak DC (Ed) Roses. Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology. 3(Special Issue 1):53-70.

Harp D.A., Zlesak, D.C., Hammond, G., George, S., and W. Mackay, 2009. Earth-Kind® Rose Trials–Identifying the World’s Strongest, Most Beautiful Landscape Roses. In: Zlesak DC (Ed) Roses. Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology. 3(Special Issue 1):166-175.

Zlesak, D.C. and B.J. Hanson, 2008. ‘Tuscan Sun’ Helopsis. HortScience 43:927-928. Grabowski, M.A, Zlesak, D.C., and J.H. Gillman, 2008. Control of black spot on rose. Plant Disease Management Reports 2:OT005

Zlesak, D.C., 2007. Factors affecting seed germination of Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet. Seed Science and Technology 35:577-594.

Zlesak, D.C., Zuzek, K. and S.C. Hokanson, 2007. Rose pollen viability over time at varying storage temperatures. Acta Horticulturae 751:337-343.

Zlesak, D.C., Bradeen, J.M. and N.O. Anderson, 2007. The use of AFLP markers to resolve clonal origin and integrity in rose, hydrangea, and lily. Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology. 1(1):51-60.

Horticulture Specializations:  

Woody plant identification, culture, pathology, and genetics; Plant propagation; and Plant breeding.


  • First Editions® Little DevilTM ninebark (PPAF)- Compact ninebark that won the 2011 American Nursery Landscape Association’s Garden Idol Award as the best new plant of the year
  • Oso HappyTM Smoothie rose (PPAF) 
  • Oso HappyTM Petit Pink rose (PP22,205)- Winner of the American Rose Society Award of Excellence for miniature roses 2012
  • Oso HappyTM Candy Oh! rose (PP20,471)
  • 'Tuscan Sun' heliopsis (PP18,763)
  • Monarch MedianoTM and Monarch GrandeTM series of ageratum (PPAF)