Get to Know Roses

Table of Contents

Gertrude Stein famously wrote: “…a rose is a rose is a rose,” but the savvy flower gardener knows that this simply isn’t true. Roses come in all shapes, sizes, colors, scents, and temperaments. Here’s a quick rundown of the main rose types:

Hybrid Tea

Rosa hybrid - Hybrid tea rose

Hybrid tea roses are the beauties most people envision when they think of roses. Available in a wide range of colors and blends, they produce large, well-formed, single blossoms on long stems. Flowers are mainly produced in spring and fall.

Best for:

  • Cut flowers.
  • Large gardens–tea roses can grow to six feet (1.8 meters) high and five feet (1.5 meters) wide.
  • Experienced gardeners–tea roses need protection from cold and pests and careful pruning.


Rosa hybrid - Floribunda rose

Floribunda roses are derived from a cross between the hybrid tea rose and polyantha rose. They are available in a similar array of colors and fragrances, but they offer multiple flowers on each stem. The blossoms are slightly smaller, but they may bloom continuously from early summer through the fall.

Best for:

  • Continuous color in the garden.
  • Smaller spaces–it is rare for a floribunda to grow over five feet (1.5 meters).
  • Good disease resistance and vigor.


Rosa hybrid - Grandiflora rose

Grandiflora roses are a cross of the floribunda rose and the hybrid tea rose. You get the best of both worlds with the floribunda’s multiple blossoms and the tea rose’s long stems and bigger flowers.

Best for:

  • Continuous color in the garden.
  • Large gardens–these hybrids can grow as large as a tea rose.
  • Creating backdrops or privacy screens that take advantage of the grandiflora’s height and steady blooming.


Rosa hybrid - Climbing rose

Climbing roses don’t actually climb like a vine. They are long-caned rose bushes that can be attached to a trellis or fence for a trailing blaze of color and fragrance.

Best for:

  • Hiding unsightly features such as fences or an unattractive wall. Grow them on a trellis to create a privacy screen or backdrop to flowering annuals and perennials.
  • Smaller gardens–running a climbing rose vertically allows a small space to accommodate a large rose display.
  • Continuous bloom; most varieties bloom repeatedly through the summer.

Pro Tip: Climbing roses produce more flowers on horizontal branches than on vertical branches. Whenever possible, train the canes of climbing roses to a 45° angle when growing on a trellis, fence, or other structure.

Tree Rose

Rosa hybrid - Tree rose

Tree roses are also known as standard roses. A tree rose is not its own variety, but one of the other types of rose, often a tea rose, that is grafted onto a sturdy rose trunk. The result is a rose with an upright, tree-like appearance.

Best for:

  • Places in the garden in need of strong vertical or formal elements (a pair on either side of an entryway creates a regal “welcome” statement).
  • Warmer climates–the root stock of a tree rose often has trouble overwintering.
  • Containers that are easy to move so that the roses can be grown outdoors for the summer, then moved to a sheltered location for the winter.

Shrub Rose

Rosa hybrid - Shrub or groundcover rose

Shrub roses are a mixed bag of densely blooming, vigorously growing rose plants with some differences in growth habits. All shrub roses produce multiple blossoms on each stem, but some types spread horizontally on the ground while others are more suited for training into hedges.

Best for:

  • Multiple uses, including ground cover, bushes in perennial gardens, and hedges along paths or at entries.
  • Adding color and fragrance to the garden.
  • Those seeking disease-resistant, easy-to-care-for roses.

Miniature Rose

Rosa hybrid - Miniature rose

Miniature roses are exactly what they sound like, the same colors and shapes you are used to in the range of larger garden roses but in smaller form (many are no more than a foot tall).

Best for:

  • Container gardens.
  • Garden borders and path edging.
  • Urban gardens where space is at a premium.

Roses are one of the most beloved flowers in the history of gardening. With so many choices it’s easy to see why. Whether you are looking for a rose to put in a bouquet or create an entire hedge, there’s a rose out there perfectly suited to the job.


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