Which Type of Rose Is Right for Your Garden?

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A yard full of roses... what could be more lovely? The thing is, not all roses are created equal, and planting the right variety is key to getting results that match your expectations.

There are three main groupings or classes of roses, and each group contains many specific varieties. The groupings refer to the plants' history, how they grow, and their breeding.

If this is starting to sound complicated, don't worry. You're about to become an expert!

1. Old roses

Old roses are also called antique or heritage roses. And they really are old: The strain has stayed consistent since at least 1867! These gorgeous blooms only flower once a year, in early summer, and are known for their strong fragrance. They're incredibly hardy and require very little pruning.

  • Popular old roses

  • Lady Banks
  • Rose de Rescht
  • Green Rose
  • Yolande d'Aragon
  • Francis Dubreuil
  • Baronne Prevost

2. Modern/hybrid roses

Modern or hybrid roses are the lovechild of old roses and new(ish) science. These varieties were bred to have specific color, size and fragrance. They're also more resistance to disease and have longer blooming periods. This class of rose can be further broken down into Floribunda and Grandiflora, both of which bloom all season long. Floribunda roses feature clusters of smaller buds, while Grandiflora roses have larger flowers that grow on long stems.

Popular hybrid roses

  • Tea Rose
  • Fragrant Plum
  • Gold Metal
  • Amber Queen
  • Iceberg

3. Wild/species roses

Wild roses are those that have been growing wild for thousands of years with no help or interference from people. (How refreshing!) These wildflowers have five petals and usually come in pink, red, and white coloring. Unlike other types, species roses also feature brightly colored hips. They're easy to maintain, very hardy, and bloom once per year.

Popular wild roses

  • Rugosa rose
  • Multiflora rose

Growing forms

Now that we've covered the three classes of roses, let's look into the physical forms they can take. The main types of roses are climbing, miniature, shrub and tree. Each variety has different uses and space requirements.

1. Miniature rose

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Mini roses only grow to about 1-3 feet tall, making them ideal for container gardens or indoor plants. The flowers on these plants are smaller in size as well. Miniature roses are perfect for those who want to experience the beauty and joy of roses but have limited garden space.

Popular miniature roses:

  • Kristin
  • Rise n' shine
  • Magic Carrousel
  • Child's Play
  • Baby boomer

2. Climbing roses

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Climbing roses don’t actually climb in the same way a pea plant might, but they grow long canes that can be trained to a trellis or arbor for a beautiful, artistic display. Climbers are great for creating barriers or training over privacy screens.

Popular climbing roses

  • Mme. Alfred Carriere
  • Zepherine Drouhin
  • Sombreuil
  • Renae
  • New Dawn

3. Shrub roses

Shrub roses grow upright or along the ground and don’t need supports. Most shrub roses are repeat bloomers and come in a variety of colors. They usually grow 4-6 feet tall but can exceed that height without pruning. Shrub roses are great for landscaping; short sprawling varieties can be used for ground cover and tall varieties can be planted for beautiful privacy hedges.

Popular shrub roses

  • Ballerina
  • Mister Lincoln
  • Peace

4. Tree/standard roses

Also called Rose Standards, these grow wonderfully in containers. Standards are formed by grafting a bushing rose variety to an existing cane. They're a unique and interesting addition to any garden, but they require very special care. These trees need special protection in the winter and careful pruning to maintain their shape.

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