What Kind of Rose Is That?

Species Roses

This is where it all started, before hybridizers got involved with roses. Roses are often, but not exclusively, one-time bloomers. Many are "single", with only 5 petals, while others have many petals. Some are fragrant, some aren't. They do tend to be very healthy when grown in an environment resembling their home turf. Some are native to Georgia, and others have naturalized here. Ex: Swamp Rose (R. palustris), Cherokee Rose (R. laevigata), Chestnut Rose (R. roxburghii)

Old Garden Roses

These roses vary greatly in terms of size, bloom form, frequency of bloom, and disease resistance. Many are one-time bloomers, and most are fragrant, with a variety of scents. All classes were established before 1867, but individual roses may have been introduced later.

Alba: Old European roses, one-time bloomers, very fragrant. Mostly white or very pale pink. Ex: Mme. Plantier, Konigin von Danemark

Gallica: Old European roses, one-time bloomers, very fragrant. Many colors from purple to magenta to light pinks, with stripes, dots, etc. Ex: Cardinal de Richelieu

Damask: Old European roses, mostly one-time bloomers, very fragrant. A few varieties repeat bloom, usually sparingly. Mostly whites and pinks. Ex: Mme. Hardy

Centifolia: Old European roses, one-time bloomers, very fragrant. Mostly white and pink, very full blooms with lots of petals – sometimes referred to as cabbage roses. Ex: Fantin-Latour

Moss: Sports of Centifolias and Damasks, with resinous growth on the stem below the flower. Ex: William Lobb, Henri Martin

China: Roses first found in China, which had the unique ability to repeat bloom. Often small flowers and a looser form than were typical of the European roses. Roses may actually be red, a color not known in the old European roses. These roses are more winter-tender than the old European roses, and not grown in the northern US. Ex: Old Blush, Mutabilis

Tea: Also from China, these roses begin to show the form we now associate with roses. Has a unique "tea" fragrance. More new colors, including pale yellows; these roses are winter-tender. Ex: Monsieur Tillier, Mrs. Dudley Cross

Bourbon: The first crosses between the old European roses and the roses from China. Some repeat bloom, and a unique "Bourbon" fragrance. Ex: Mme. Isaac Pereire, Souvenir de la Malmaison

Portland: Another line of crosses between China and European roses with some repeat bloom. Ex: Rose de Rescht, Rose du Roi

Noisette: An American line, resulting from a cross between China roses and Rosa moschata. Very fragrant roses, often climbers; later cultivars were often the result of crosses with tea roses. Ex: Nastarana.

Hybrid Perpetual: A series of crosses intended to bring the repeat-flowering habit to European-style roses. Often fragrant, larger roses, with variable repeat. This was the last stage before the development of modern Hybrid Teas, which resulted from a cross between Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea roses. Ex: Marchesa Boccella, Paul Neyron

Hybrid Tea

Tall, erect bush, often over 6' by end of growing season. Flowers look like florists' roses – high-centered blooms, in bright colors, many without fragrance. Flowers come mostly as a single bloom at the end of a long stem. Repeats, mostly in 4-6 week cycles. Hybrid teas originated from crosses between Tea roses and Hybrid Perpetual roses.

Examples: Peace, Mister Lincoln, Double Delight, Gemini, Veteran's Honor


Genetic forerunners of the floribundas, these are roses with small blooms in large clusters. Bushes are usually 3-4' tall, but occasionally climbing; they repeat in 4-6 week cycles

Examples: Cecile Brunner, Perle d'Or, The Fairy, Clotilde Soupert, Marie Pavié


A medium-sized bush, about as wide as it is tall, perhaps 4' tall by the end of the growing season. Blooms come mostly in clusters, on shorter stems than on hybrid teas. Flowers may have different forms than hybrid teas. Usually no fragrance. Repeats in 4-6 week cycles

Examples: Europeana, Iceberg, Sexy Rexy, Playboy, Scentimental, Angel Face


A tall bush like a hybrid tea, but with flowers borne mostly in clusters of blooms like a floribunda. Repeats, mostly in 4-6 week cycles.

Examples: Queen Elizabeth, Gold Medal, Tournament of Roses, Cherry Parfait, About Face


These are roses with long canes. Some are essentially taller versions of another rose (climbing sports), but others are the only form of the rose. True climbers may have very long canes, as much as 20' long. Blooms will appear at the highest point on the cane – on an untrained climber, there will only be a few blooms at the top of the cane. When canes are trained laterally, there will be many blooms all along the cane. Repeat varies; some bloom only once a year, some bloom less frequently than the usual form of the rose, and others bloom freely all season.

Examples: New Dawn, Altissimo, Don Juan, Fourth of July, Polka

Miniature & Mini-Flora

Has small flowers, as small as 1-2" across, on a bush with proportionally small foliage. The bush is often small, as little as 1' tall, but some are much larger, and some are climbers. Repeats in 4-6 week cycles. Usually grown on own roots, rather than grafted. Mini-Floras are larger.

Examples: Green Ice, Gourmet Popcorn, Irresistible, Jeanne Lajoie, Jean Kenneally, Cinderella


This is a catchall category, with bushes that vary from low-growing groundcovers to enormous bushes as tall as they are wide, and some that are usually grown as climbers. Bloom form, frequency of bloom, growth habits, etc., all vary greatly. Among the shrub classes are some that are grouped as Hybrid Musks, Hybrid Rugosas, and some groups of roses introduced by a single hybridizer, like the David Austin or Buck roses. Hybrid Musks will tolerate less sun, and Hybrid Rugosas often prefer not being sprayed with fungicides.

Modern Shrubs: Bonica, Red Ribbons, Knock Out, as well as specialty (hybridizer) groups below

David Austin roses: Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas, Heritage, Mary Rose, Gertrude Jekyll

Griffith Buck roses: Carefree Beauty, Winter Sunset, Prairie Sunrise, Country Dancer

Classic Shrubs

Hybrid Musks: Ballerina, Cornelia, Penelope, Prosperity, Belinda

Hybrid Rugosas: Sir Thomas Lipton, Blanc Double de Coubert, Therese Bugnet

Hybrid Kordesii: Dortmund