The Greater Lansing Rose Society
A member of the American Rose Society
Rose Information

What Types of Roses Are There?

. Roses are divided into a number of classifications.  The basis for all these other classes is the species roses.  These are the original, wild roses that are found around the northern hemisphere in many types of climate. Interestingly, roses do not occur naturally in the southern hemisphere.  The species roses are grouped into North American, European, Middle Eastern, and East Asian.  Except for some of the East Asian ones, these roses are once blooming only.  They usually have single blooms, most often consisting of five petals.   One fairly popular species rose, Rosa glauca, is grown for its combination of grayish foliage and pink and white flowers.  Another example is Rosa Gallica ‘Officinalis’ or the Apothecary’s Rose, is the ancestor of the hybrid gallica class.  

Both natural and human crosses of the species roses gave rise to the many classes of old garden roses. These are all the types of roses known until the mid 19th century.  Many of them are once-blooming, and many are not hardy in our climate.  However, the old garden roses have a special charm of their own, and many are very disease resistant.  They also tend to be fragrant. Some of the better known types are:  Alba, Bourbon, Damask, Tea, Moss, Gallica, Portland, and Hybrid Perpetual.  

The Albas are believed to result from a cross between the Gallicas and Rosa canina (dog rose).  These tend to be big, sturdy, once-blooming bushes.  More famous ones include pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’, and ‘Konigin Von Danemark’, and white ‘Alba Semi-plena’ or ‘The White Rose of York’.  The Bourbons originally resulted from a cross between China rose ‘Old Blush’ and the rose ‘Autumn Damask’.  Many are fragrant and have repeat bloom.  One of the most famous is beautiful ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ in pale pink.  There is also pink ‘Louise Odier’ with its perfect, camellia-like blossoms.  The Damask roses are one of the most ancient types and are famous for their scent.  They are almost all once blooming in white and shades of pink and often have a little point or “button” in the center of the flowers.  They are fairly disease resistant and hardy.  Some of the damasks can grow into rather tall, husky bushes. One white variety, ‘Mme. Hardy’ remains one of the world’s most famous roses.  This rose is hardy here without protection.   Moss roses may have arisen as a mutation of centifolias or damasks.  They get their name from the soft, scented, mossy growths on their peduncles and sepals.  Most varieties are heavily scented and once blooming in shades of white, pink, and red.  The pink common moss rose ‘Communis’ is the one seen most often.  It is hardy here, and spreads by sucker growth.  Another ancient class is the Gallicas.  These are very hardy, and once blooming in shades of pink, red, and purple.  The most famous is a pink and white sport of ‘Officinalis’ called ‘Rosa Mundi’.  Another is purple ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’.  The bushes tend to spread by sucker growth.  The Portland roses, sometimes called Portland damasks, were developed in the early 1800’s.  They were very famous for a time because they were repeat-blooming, but few varieties have survived into the present.  The bushes tend to be small and thorny.  A more common one is pink ‘Comte de Chambord’ which is fragrant and hardy without protection here.  The Portland roses were mostly superceded by the Bourbons and the Hybrid Perpetuals.  In spite of their name, Hybrid Perpetuals don’t bloom constantly.  However, they do bloom more than once, with the first bloom usually being the heaviest. The bushes tend to be tall and hardy, and bloom in shades of white, pink, and red.  One famous pink variety, ‘Baronne Prevost’ has large fragrant flowers and is hardy here without protection, but is prone to blackspot. Tea roses originally came from China.  They are not hardy in our cold climate, but their descendants, the Hybrid Tea Roses mostly are, with some protection.  Tea roses brought the color yellow and the ability to rebloom to modern roses.
  1. Madame Hardy Damask
    Madame Hardy Damask
  2. Ispahan Damask
    Ispahan Damask
  3. Gallica Officianalis
    Gallica Officianalis
  4. Communis Moss
    Communis Moss
  5. Louis Odier Bourbon
    Louis Odier Bourbon
  6. Ferdinand Pichard Hybrid Perpetual
    Ferdinand Pichard Hybrid Perpetual
Those classes of roses developed from the mid 19th century to the 21st century are called Modern Roses.  The hybrid tea roses date from the introduction of ‘La France’ in 1867.  Any class of roses introduced after 1867 is a modern rose.  Modern roses include the classes of Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Grandiflora, Hybrid Kordesii, Hybrid Moyesii, Hybrid Musk, Hybrid Rugosa, Hybrid Wichurana, Large-flowered climber, Miniature, Mini-Flora, Polyantha, and Shrub.  Most of these classes also include climbing forms. 

Hybrid Tea roses are the roses we all tend to think of first.  Generally they are fairly tall, about four to six feet with high-centered flowers growing singly per stem.  Many require some protection in our climate and most are susceptible to some type of fungal disease. In spite of these shortcomings, their beauty makes them worth growing and enjoying.  Some well-known hybrid teas are Peace, Touch of Class, and Gemini.  These can all be grown in our climate.  Floribundas, as their name implies, tend to grow many flowers often in clusters.  Flower shape may vary from the hybrid tea form to looser, less formal shapes.  The bushes tend to be smaller overall, around three or four feet tall, making them a good choice for small yards.  They are usually subject to the same problems and requirements as the hybrid teas.  Examples include hybrid tea-shaped ‘Black Cherry’, loose and ruffled ‘Easy Does It’, and old-fashioned ‘Julia Child’.  Crosses between the hybrid teas and floribundas resulted in the Grandifloras.  This class usually is quite tall, with hybrid tea style roses that may grow in clusters.  Although there are some short grandifloras, as a rule these bushes require more room than hybrid teas.  They tend to have the same culture requirements as the hybrid teas and floribundas.  Probably the most famous grandiflora is the original one, pink ‘Queen Elizabeth’. Miniature roses have gradually become more popular, with many varieties created during the 20th and 21st centuries. Their small size makes them popular for container growing though if planted outside the bushes get larger, usually from 1.5 to 3 feet tall.  The flowers remain small, however.  Flowers vary from single to very double in the same color ranges as hybrid teas.  They bloom repeatedly, but unfortunately few have scent.  They are grown on their own roots. Miniature roses are available in both bush and climber forms.  Examples include the vigorous pink climber ‘Jeanne Lajoie’, salmon ‘Millie Walters’ and dark red and mysterious ‘Black Jade’.  The newest class, the Mini-Flora roses, are intermediate in size between the miniatures and floribundas.  They come in a large range of colors similar to hybrid teas, and some are fragrant.  They grow on their own roots and are repeat bloomers.  Most can be treated like miniatures and grown in a sheltered place or with winter protection.  Some examples are the pale mauve ‘Moonlight Scentsation’ and beautiful pink ‘Overnight Scentsation’.  Both these roses are fragrant and can be grown in a sheltered place without winter protection. Shrub roses usually are more disease-resistant than hybrid teas, and the flowers tend to be informal or old-fashioned in style.  This class is very popular due to being more easy-care.  Popular varieties include the Austin English Roses and the "Knock-Out" series.

  1. Gemini Hybrid Tea
    Gemini Hybrid Tea
  2. Bill Warriner Florabunda
    Bill Warriner Florabunda
  3. Leading Lady Mini-Flora
    Leading Lady Mini-Flora
  4. You're the One Miniature
    You're the One Miniature
  5. Eglantyne Austin Shrub
    Eglantyne Austin Shrub
  6. Knockout Shrub
    Knockout Shrub