“A rose is a rose is a rose” is true, but a little more information would be nice. Right?
- Single – 5 – 12 petals
- Semi-double – 13 – 16 petals
- Double – 17 – 25 petals
- Full – 26 – 40 petals
- Very full – 41 and more petals
- Classical high-centered
- Fully opened
3 Classifications of Roses
- Species or Shrub Roses
- Old Garden Roses
- Modern Roses
Species or Shrub Roses:
These roses are usually hardy in cold climates and require much less maintenance, including
pruning, than most modern roses. The species and shrub roses may only bloom once during the season, whether spring or summer. Some though, will have a second, less showy blooming. Often the blooms are made up of single blooms with five petals. These can be very delicate and beautiful. The blooms can be white, yellow, pink, purple or red.
Many of the shrub roses have beautiful, large, bright colored hips, which are beautiful in the winter. The rose hips are an excellent source of vitamin C and can be dried to make rose hip tea.
Shrub roses can get quite large and need lots of room to spread. They can grow to be 8′-12′ tall and 8′-10′ wide. Using them in the landscape can be tricky since they can shade other plants, unless the other plants are shade lovers.
You can recognize the species or shrub roses by their names, which usually begins with “Rosa”. Also, the veins of the leaves are more defined and the leaves aren’t as smooth as the modern roses.
The ones that I’ve grown and had great success with is the Rosa multiflora and the Rosa rugosa, which is a little bit smaller at 6′.
Old Garden Roses:
Old garden roses are roses that were grown in gardens before 1867. Until recently, they haven’t been available on the commercial market because of the wide variety of modern roses being sold. They are making a come-back though and it is now possible to buy some of the older roses. There are specialty nurseries that propagate the old garden roses though. They are marketed as Heirloom Roses or Antique Roses.
One of the best online sources I’ve dealt with is The Antique Rose Emporium found at: https://www.antiqueroseemporium.com/
The big pluses for buying the old garden roses is the hardiness and disease resistance of the old roses. Also, they can have a wonderful, heavy fragrance that is usually not found in the modern roses. The flower forms can be unusual compared to the modern hybrid teas we are all so familiar with. They can range from loose form of fewer petals to very full, tightly formed, as the centifolia or cabbage rose. The Graham Thomas rose is one of my favorite roses. It has a strong fragrance and is a beautiful buttery yellow.
This classification includes the following roses:
Modern roses are roses that have been around since 1867. Almost all roses sold at nurseries and online are modern roses, with the exception of the specialty nurseries that sell the old garden roses as Heirloom or Antique roses. Because of the techniques used by plant breeders, there is a staggering number of hybridized cultivars available. The choices are in colors, shape of the flowers, the number of the petals and the growth habit of the plant. The modern roses have been divided up into 6 main groups. They are:
- Hybrid Tea roses
- Polyantha roses
- Floribunda roses
- Grandiflora roses
- Miniature roses
- Climbing or Rambling roses
Hybrid Tea Roses: The Hybrid Tea rose is the most popular rose grown today. They have been developed over many
decades of breeding and are hardy, vigorous growers. The buds are long and narrow on strong, strong stems, and each stem will only have one blossom. They are prolific bloomers and will bloom all summer and fall, until frost. They grow to 3′ – 6′ high, and if pruned yearly, the bush will have a lush, full form.
They are good cutting roses with their strong stems. The colors range from white, pink, reds, oranges, yellows, lavenders and all shades in between. Some have bright, vibrant colors while others are pastel shades or near whites. Some are very fragrant, but not all. There are some with very little fragrance.
They are hardy in cold climates. They can survive 10 degrees without protection and with protection can survive even colder temperatures.
Polyantha: The hardy shrub rose, Rosa multiflora, was crossed with the hybrid tea and the polyantha was introduced. It is
a low growing rose, usually only getting about 2′ high. They make a great show in mass plantings and work well as a low hedge. The blossoms are small and are produced in great clusters from spring through the fall. They belong at the front of the garden and grow well with taller, more stately roses. Much hardier than the hybrid teas because of the Rosa multiflora.
Blossoms can be single, semi-double or double and can range in colors from white to red, yellow and orange with pastel shades of all. One of the most popular polyantha roses is “The Fairy”, which is a light pink rose. It is a prolific bloomer. I had it at the front of a border garden and it spread quite a bit, always covered in huge clusters of small, pink blooms.
Floribunda: The floribunda is a cross between the hybrid tea roses and the polyantha roses, and has the best qualities
from each of these parents. The flowers are shaped more like the hybrid teas, with the lush foliage. Crossed with the polyantha, the plants become even more hardy. They are generally low growing, usually only reaching 3′ – 4′.
They bloom in clusters per stem and some are fragrant. They are in almost continuous bloom from spring through fall. The colors range is the same as the hybrid teas.
Grandiflora Roses: Grandifloras are newcomers since they’ve only been around for about 60 years. This group takes the
best of qualities of its parents, the hybrid tea and the floribunda roses. The flowers are on strong stems, like the hybrid teas and they can be born singly or in clusters. They are in almost continuous bloom. The size of the bloom can vary but it is usually medium size, between the two parents. Unfortunately, they usually have little fragrance.
The plants are very vigorous and can reach heights of 4′ – 8′. They are ideal for the back of the flower bed. One of the most popular of the grandifloras is the “Queen Elizabeth” roses, which are a medium pink with dark, lush foliage. The Queen Elizabeth is a vigorous grower and a prolific bloomer in my garden. The ones in my garden provide huge amounts of cut flowers. They reached 5′ the first year and 7′ by the second year.
Miniature Roses: Miniature roses only grow to 6″ – 18″ tall, so they can be grown by anyone, even if space is limited. The plants are small, the leaves and blossoms are tiny too, yet they have the same rose form. They can be grown in containers, or grown outside, they make an ideal border plant. They are very hardy and easy to grow. They come in a wide range of colors and varieties, even as climbing or as miniature rose trees.
Climbing or Rambling Roses: Climbing roses have been favorites for centuries. They are beautiful on arbors or pergolas, running along fences or covering a wall. The climbing roses have larger blossoms with thick, stiff canes, while the ramblers have thinner, more flexible canes.
The climbing roses need to be tied to a support. The 10′ – 15′ long canes need to be trained over an arbor or wall or
whatever they are growing on. They can be used to enhance an area or cover and area in the yard. Prune while dormant. They usually bloom in the summer and again in the fall. A popular climbing rose is “New Dawn”, which has light pink blossoms and is a prolific bloomer, rarely out of bloom all season long. The ones in my garden bloom prolifically and are very vigorous growers.
The rambling roses have more flexible, thinner canes that can grow to 20′ – 30′ long. As long as they are supported well, they will keep on “ramblin”. They are very hardy and usually only bloom once a year. They are great when used to cover a large area.
Modern Roses by Growth Habit and Size:
- Miniature - 6″ – 18″ – Use in containers and for low borders or ground cover.
- Floribunda - 2′ – 5′ – Use in containers and for low borders or hedges.
- Hybrid Tea - 4′ – 5′ – Use as specimen rose or in groups of 3 or 5 for best effect.
- Grandiflora - 6′+ – Use as hedge or specimen plants.
- Tree rose (or Standard rose) – Pruned and trained with one trunk and full, flowering top.
- Climbing – 6′ – 10′ – Use over arbors, trellis, pergola or fence.
- Rambler - 10′ – 20′ – Use to grow over walls or banks.
The size, shape and growth habit of roses determines where they will look best in your garden and where they will grow best.