Types of roses

a really short glossary

The following table describes the general categories of rose types.

Type Description Pruning
Climbing Repeat bloomer. More vertical than ramblers. Limit pruning to removing dead wood. Prune in early spring. Remove side shoots to promote more flower production.
Floribunda Cross between polyantha and hybrid tea rose. Use as hedge, border, or landscape. Compact and more disease resistant than hybrid teas. Handsomest flowers are produced on new wood. Prune hard in early spring. Remove between 1/2 to 2/3 of the plant's height. Reduce the number of canes. Remove all wimpy, or sickly, looking canes. There should be 3 to 6 evenly spaced, healthy canes with a good number of outward facing buds.
Grandiflora Cross between floribunda and hybrid tea roses. Large flowers, tall plants. No fragrance.
Hybrid Tea Lovely shape, huge range of colors. Good for cutting. Often have no smell. Low disease resistance or cold hardiness.
Miniature Tiny flowers on small plants. Lovely container plants. Continuous bloomers, little or no fragrance. Grown on own root stock, so very hardy.
Old Garden or Heirloom Old garden roses are some of the most beautiful, fragrant roses available. They include Gallica, Damask, Moss, Alba, and Centifolia roses. These are the old, European roses. They do well in colder climates.
  • Gallicas are the oldest roses.
  • Damask roses are the most disease resistant and low maintenance.
  • Albas tolerate cold and neglect. Also will produce blooms in some shade.
  • Moss roses repeat bloom, but are subject to powdery mildew.
  • Centifolia are the cabbage roses beloved by painters. Fragrant with huge blossoms.

Hardy, repeat-blooming roses include:
  • Bourbons have full blossoms with rich fragrance. Big shrubs. Very winter hardy. Some blackspot and mildew, but that's offset by the hardiness of the plant.
  • Portland roses, aka Damask Perpetual, are small shrubs, very fragrant. Needs some winter protection.
  • Hybrid perpetual are crosses between Bourbons and other class roses. Varied group. Each variety has unique requirements.
Prune to remove old or damaged wood. If there is no damage, pruning is not necessary.

Once-blooming roses should be pruned after they bloom.

Repeat bloomers can be pruned harder without loosing blooms.
Polyantha Low growing roses with lots of smaller, repeat blooming flowers. Use in landscape plantings. Hardy. Instead of pruning, thin to make it tidy. Leave thin canes; they are thin in polyanthas. Hard pruning will reduce blooms.
Ramblers Once blooming, but abundant production of flowers ramble over anything in its path. Produce lots of bright orange rose hips for winter color. Flowers are produced on previous season's canes. Remove dead wood. Prune after blooming in early summer.
Shrub Catchall term. Shrub roses are rounded in shape, winter hardy, and relatively disease resistant depending on type. Includes hybrid rugosas and musks, Buck roses, and English Garden roses such as those offered by David Austin. Shrub roses can be left without pruning for the first several years. In the fourth year, prune to maintain desired shape by removing one third of the oldest canes.
Tree Often called standard roses, they are a form, not a type. May be hybrid teas, floribunda, or miniatures grafted on to a sturdy root stock. To have a nice form with plenty of flowers, prune moderately for balance and shape. Cut canes to between 6 and 12 inches to encourage a well-rounded shape.

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