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The Different Types of Roses for Your Garden

Updated on September 4, 2012
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Antique rose "Madame Alfred Carriere"
Antique rose "Madame Alfred Carriere" | Source

If you think that the only differences in roses is in the colors then you are terribly mistaken!

There are several types of roses available for your garden. Each will give a different look and serve a different purpose depending on how you use it. There are climbing roses, some that are perfect for foundation plantings, and others that work best as ground cover. In addition roses come in many different heights, sizes, colors, shapes, and scents. They are pretty hardy overall but the different varieties do have different requirements and you should keep this in mind when planning your landscaping project.

Which Type of Rose to Choose?

There are three basic types of roses:

  • Bedding
  • Climbing
  • Shrub

The type you choose will depend on the look you want and the specific area you want to plant them in. Shrub roses make thick walls and are great for foundation planting or to plant along a property line while climbers need to be braced against a building or a trellis of some sort. Bedding roses are those that you plant in a garden, usually with other varieties of roses and flowers.

Following is a compilation of the various types of roses.

Heirlooms, Antiques or Old Garden Roses

The terms heirlooms, antique roses, and old garden roses are used interchangeably. While these terms encompass the old tea roses there are also others that belong in this category.

The name is a catch-all for all of the classes of roses that were in existence before 1867, the date when the first hybrid tea was introduced.

  • Albas
  • Bourbon
  • Centifolias
  • Damasks
  • Gallicas
  • Moss roses
  • Wild roses

These come in an uncountable variety and range in height from one foot to over fifty feet. Many of the old roses have repeat blooms, deep scents, and resistance to common diseases.

Heirloom rose "Mutablis"
Heirloom rose "Mutablis" | Source

Hybrid Tea Roses and Old Tea Roses

Picture a perfect rose in your mind. Got it? More than likely it was a tea rose. The original tea roses, those that haven't been hybridized, are in a group called heirloom roses (often called Old Garden Roses). These were the roses that were hybridized into the beautiful, long stemmed roses that are the epitome of romance today.

The original tea roses are still available in many specialty garden centers or nurseries and often called heirloom roses. These are good as bedding plantings.

Although the old roses had been in existence for centuries it wasn't until 1867 that Guillot of France introduced the bloom that would become the first hybrid tea rose. The fragrance was strong and the blooms were large and full.

Over the years tea roses have been in continuous development. While the blooms have gotten larger and come in more colors than ever before, the scent has all but disappeared.

Hybrid Tea Rose

Today's tea rose comes in a kaleidoscope of colors with large blooms on long, sturdy stems. These hybrid teas resist disease and last for a week or more as a cut flower, making them perfect for commercial uses. Each bloom will have from 24 to 60 petals, depending on the variety.

These roses are perfect bedding roses, producing blooms almost all year in many climates. They can be used as foundation plantings, in rose beds, and in borders.


Bourbon roses are a result of breeding China roses and Damasks. They have full, highly scented blooms and are good for a variety of growing conditions.


Chinas have five petals and come in pink to red tones. They are somewhat delicate and bloom in the spring with a second autumn bloom in some areas.


Damasks are very vigorous growers, resistant to disease and easy to care for. They were brought to Europe in the 1200s from Persia, but were known to the ancient Romans as well.


Portland roses are believed to have originated from a cross between a Damask and a China rose and were first found in Italy. The first Portland, Duchess of Portland, is a beautiful red rose and dates to about 1800.

Examples of Rose Types

Hybrid Perpetuals

Hybrid Perpetuals are the result of hybridization of the original tea rose types. At first the stems were short and didn't hold the bloom upright but as time went on the stems were made longer and sturdier by careful breeding.


Floribunda roses were the name given to a polyantha – tea rose cross by the Jackson and Perkins Company in the early 1900s.

These roses bloom in clusters and sprays of blossoms in many colors. Although they take three years to reach maturity once they start blooming the plants may produce as many as 36 sprays in a season. They work well in mass plantings and borders. They are one of the most dependable and easy to care for roses available.


The grandiflora is a cross between a floribunda and a hybrid tea. They have large blooms clustered together on long stems so that they work as well for cut flowers as they do for a bedding plant. Do plan on planting these hardy bushes at the back of the border or bed because they get very tall. The grandiflora also works well as a foundation planting.

Hybrid tea roses are used by florists for arrangements.
Hybrid tea roses are used by florists for arrangements. | Source

Miniature Roses

These tiny roses come in hundreds of variations from size to petal and color variations. The blooms can be from 1/4 –inch to two inches in diameter. The height ranges from one to three feet and so these roses should be planted in containers or at the front of a bed.


These roses are somewhat larger than miniatures but not as large as traditional roses. Their growth habit is much like a floribunda. These should be used in containers or at the front of the bed.

Micro- mini Roses

Micro-mini roses are sometimes called "teacup" roses and are tiny plants with small blooms and leaves. They work best as an indoor plant on a sunny windowsill.

Miniature Roses

Climbing Roses

Climbers are a vigorous type of rose that can grow up to fifty feet tall if they have support. They can be trained against a trellis, wall, or even used as ground cover without support.

Climbers are mutations of the bush type roses. The flowers may be large and placed singly on the stem or bloom in clusters. Some climbers bloom once a season while others bloom all season long. Climbing roses should be grown in sun or partial sun.


The polyantha is a low growing shrub rose that blooms for a long season. These roses are perfect for foundation plantings because of their thick, compact habits. The flowers are clustered on the top of the branches.

How to Choose Roses for Your Garden

There are many things to consider when you are choosing the perfect rose for your landscaping needs. A hybrid tea will not do well as a foundation planting because the soil near a concrete foundation will tend to be too alkaline and the growth habit of the bush itself is not compact enough to be attractive in this setting.

You will also want to look at the style of your home. Heirloom roses tend to have a less formal, more cottage garden look while tea roses are quite formal. The colors that you choose should be attractive with the other landscaping features around the plant.

If scent is important to you then the old garden varieties are probably what you are looking for – just brushing by them releases that old fashioned rose fragrance everyone loves.

Roses scare some novice gardeners – but they shouldn't. They aren't difficult to grow and create beauty wherever they are planted.

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      6 years ago from London, UK

      An interesting article especially that Rose Moss. I wonder whether it grows everywhere within reason, of course.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your are Rose to many, keep it up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A rose is the most beautiful flower and who wouldn't like it.Good one.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and will be useful to many I am sure.

      Thank you for sharing.


    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Awesome resource. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      6 years ago

      If I had to do it all over again, I would plant the same old garden roses found at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery and Historic Rose Garden (I'm a volunteer) in Sacramento. The modern hybrid teas found at local garden stores and nurseries look great while in bloom, but what I don't like about them is their "leggy" look. Now I understand why some volunteers tell me they have removed their hybrid tea roses and replaced them with old garden roses. Or at least planted companions (lamb's ear and iris)to hide the space between the hybrid tea roses and the ground. Old garden roses are in bush form and are quite attractive when they cover ground. You can always prune them if they take over the landscaping.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      My favorite flower: the Rose. I can't grow them in S. Fl as well as I did in Ga. but I still try. Beautiful photos.

    • Donna Huebsch profile image

      Donna Fairley Huebsch 

      6 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      This was a very interesting hub...I had always shied away from roses because I thought they would be too difficult to care for. However, at our old house, I planted a miniature rose clipping from one of my sister's rose bushes, and that bush was a descendant of my grandmother's miniature roses. It grew like crazy against a trellis, and now I have a small clipping from that in a pot at our new house, waiting to be planted.

      Also, when we moved into our new house this past Feb., there was an unidentified bush by the front door - turns out it is a rose bush, and it has been blooming ever since about March, with big, lovely red blossoms.


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