There are three main types of roses, with more than 150 species in existence. That’s a lot of roses! In this guide, we’ll break down the most popular varieties and give you things to consider before planting each type.
Disclaimer: The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, financial, or DIY advice. We highly suggest consulting a professional before attempting any DIY home improvements or repairs.
Classic and enchanting, there are 300-plus species and more than 1,000 hybrids of roses. Each species and hybrid has unique features and characteristics, making it difficult to distinguish one rose variety from another.
To make classification easier, rose specialists divided the types of roses into three main categories – Wild, Modern Garden, and Old Garden Roses.
Three Main Types of Roses
Listed below are the three main categories of roses and the different rose varieties that belong in each category.
1. Old Garden Roses
Sometimes called heritage, antique or historic roses, Old Garden Roses are classic roses that existed before 1867. The Old Garden Roses are mostly known for one distinctive characteristic – they bloom only once a year, during the summer season.
These types also have high resistance to diseases and the cold, strong fragrance, high petal count, and double-flower blooms.
Here are some examples of Old Garden Roses:
Tea Roses are repeat-flowering roses named because their fragrance is similar to that of Chinese black tea. They have pointed buds that open in a spiral manner and roll back at the edges.
The look of this particular rose plant creates a unique, classic, and delicate form that distinguishes the Tea Roses from the others in the Rosa genus. Tea roses come in shades of yellow, white, apricot, and pastel shades of pink.
Gallica Roses are among the oldest garden roses, dating back as far as the 12th century. These roses have an intense fragrance, a short, bushy shape, and a ruffled appearance. Gallica Roses are pink, purple, red, or a striped shade.
With colors ranging from white to rich pink, Centifolia Roses have large, closely-packed blooms with thin, overlapping petals. They also have an intense fragrance that makes them highly demanded by the perfume industry.
Alba Roses are one of the oldest rose hybrids, with their existence dating back to 100 AD. They have white or pink blossoms that grow on tall trees with blue-green foliage. Alba Roses have a very high resistance to diseases and cold weather conditions. Because of this, they are renowned as one of the most resilient roses.
China Roses are an exotic rose variety cultivated in East Asia for centuries before their introduction in the Western world in the 18th century. China Roses have a lovely fragrance and compact, bushy blossoms that come in a variety of colors. Their petals are delicate and often need protection from the cold.
Other Examples of Old Garden Roses:
Apart from the five discussed above, here are other examples of roses in this category:
- Noisette Roses
- Moss Roses
- Portland Roses
- Hybrid Rugosa Roses
- Hybrid Perpetual Roses
- Hybrid Musk Roses
- Bourbon Roses
- Damask Roses
2. Modern Garden Roses
The Modern Garden Roses are descendants of the Old Garden Roses and encompass all rose varieties bred in 1867 and after. Despite how they are related, Modern Garden Roses differ from Old Garden Roses in many ways.
First, roses of this variety bloom continuously throughout the year, whereas Old Garden Roses produce flowers only once a year. Apart from that, Modern Garden Roses also have more prominent blooms, less fragrance, and are less disease-resistant.
Here are some examples of Modern Garden Roses:
English Roses are also called David Austin Roses, after their British rose breeder, David Austin. His goal was to create roses that were neither Modern Garden Roses nor Old Garden Roses, but instead a variety of roses that took the best characteristics from both groups.
With English Roses, he created roses that feature the intense fragrance and the classic rosette form of Old Garden Roses. These bloomed continuously throughout the year like Modern Garden Roses. Despite their unique characteristics, English Roses require higher maintenance than other rose varieties and are less hardy.
Hybrid Tea Roses
Old Garden Tea Roses were crossbred with a hybrid perpetual rose to create the Hybrid Tea Rose ‒ a dainty rose with large, pointed blooms. Hybrid Tea Roses have bountiful blossoms that you see in a wide range of colors. They also have tall, elegant stems that make for excellent cut flowers.
Climbing Roses have large blooms that grow on long, arching stems. When trained, these stems climb and decorate walls, trellises, pergolas, or garden fences.
Climbing Roses often get compared to Rambling Roses, which also have arching, trainable stems. However, unlike Rambling Roses that bloom only once per year, Climbing Roses flower at least twice during each growing season.
Floribunda Roses are a cross-breed of the Hybrid Tea Roses and Polyantha Roses. During the blooming season, Floribunda Roses produce large blossoms in many clusters. The roses are usually bushy with free-branching shrubs, making them perfect for making a rose bed or hedge.
Rambling Roses are vigorous shrubs with clustered blossoms and long, flexible, arching stems supporting their horizontal growth. Rambling Roses bloom once a year, during the early days of summer.
When they bloom, the roses produce massive quantities of small, fragrant blossoms along their stems, creating a spectacular sight. Because of this, most gardeners use Rambling Roses to decorate their pergolas, trellises, and archways.
Other Examples of Modern Garden Roses
Apart from the five discussed above, here are other types of modern roses:
- Groundcover Roses
- Grandiflora Roses
- Shrub Roses
- Miniature Roses
- Polyantha Roses
3. Wild Roses
Also referred to as Species Roses, Wild Roses are wildflowers that remain as Nature grew them. Unlike the modern varieties, no crossbreeding of other rose varieties or species is necessary to get this type. These have five-petal, single-bloom flowers that are primarily pink.
However, you might find red, white, or yellow Wild Roses in rare cases, with a yellow rose being extremely rare. Wild Roses are hardy and highly disease-resistant, making them easy to maintain.
Here are some examples of Wild Roses:
- Wild Prairie Rose
- Carolina Rose
- Swamp Rose
- Wood’s Wild Rose
- The Nootka Rose
- Rugosa Rose
- Multiflora Rose
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Main Types of Roses?
The three main types of roses are Modern Garden Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Wild Roses.
What Is the Difference Between Rose Types?
The main difference between Old Garden Roses and Modern Garden Roses is that the latter are roses bred before 1867 while the former are roses bred from 1867 onward.
What Kind of Roses Bloom All Year?
Floribunda Roses have the most long-lasting blooming season, starting in early spring and ending in late fall.
What Is the Most Expensive Rose?
The Juliet Rose is the most expensive rose, with an estimated price of $5 million.
What Is the Best Month to Plant Roses?
The best time to plant roses is during the spring or fall.
Which Types of Roses Will You Choose?
As we stated above, there are many different types of roses, with each variety and species having distinct features and characteristics. These features make the Rosa genus not only interesting to study but also uniquely useful. Even better is that nearly any type will add character and vibrancy to your lawn and landscaping.