What kind of roses do I have?

Roses are a symbol of love.  That plant is the first one people think of and it is the most sold plant for Valentine’s day.  A rose is in the Rosaceae family of plants. There are hundreds of species with thousands of cultivars. They can be standing shrubs or trailing plants or climbers. Many have stems with very sharp thorns. There all kinds of sizes going from very small to very large, different shapes from single blossoms to fully double blossoms and many of the plants have very sharp thorns.

If you love roses and you want to learn how to identify them, then you’re going to have to become a detective and you can call yourself Sherlock Rose.

Many are fragrant and they range in almost every color of the rainbow, with the exception of blue and black. True blue and black doesn’t exist, however you can find some very very very dark reds that may come close to black and/or blue. Rose breeders have identified plants that are easy to hybridize and as a consequence today there is a wide range of garden roses.

Now you need to figure out what kind of plant  is growing in the yard, or what kind of plant you want to buy for your yard.

Here is a list of the types and their  basic differences.

Hybrid Tea Roses

Mr. Lincoln

Hybrid Tea roses have large flowers that usually grow one flower to one long stem and they bloom continually throughout the growing season. The bush can grow quite tall and  Rosarians call theseplants upright. They are usually budded onto a vigorous root stock. If you’re not sure what budded onto root stock means, type in budded root stock roses on Google and Google will explain it so much better than I can. Hybrid tea roses are a great choice if you like large flowers and if you like to make rose arrangements or have cut flowers in the house.

Some examples are: ‘Chrysler Imperial’, ‘Double Delight’, ‘Elina’, ‘Fragrant Cloud’, ‘Mister Lincoln’, Peace and ‘Precious Platinum’.

Grandiflora Roses

Queen Elizabeth

Grandifloras are upright plants with the flowers often growing in clusters. Each flower in the cluster has a long stem that is good for cutting. Grandifloras can grow between 3 and 6 feet tall. They’re almost always budded and are a good choice if you like lots of blooms and stems  all on the same plant.

Some Grandiflora roses are: Dick Clark, Maria Shriver, Queen Elizabeth, Octoberfest, Scarlet Knight

Polyanthas Roses

The Fairy Rose

Polyanthas are the ancestors of the modern floribundas. They are usually compact, hardy, and generous-blooming. The variety you see most often is ‘The Fairy’ — a wonderful variety, covered with small pink flowers on a plant that can spread to several feet in height and width.

Some Plyanthas are: ‘The Fairy, ‘Paquerette’

Floribundas Roses


Floribundas have flowers that are small and grow in clusters on short stems. The bush is usually compact and blooms continually throughout the growing season. Most floribundas are budded, but commercial growers are beginning to grow them on their own roots. Choose floribundas if you like or need fairly low-growing plants that produce great numbers of colorful flowers.

There are many roses in this category: ‘Angel Face’, ‘Heidi Klum’, ‘Montana’,’Pacific Dream’,’Shockwave’

Miniature Roses

Green Ice

Miniatures are extremely popular small plants, between 6 and 36 inches in height, with their leaves and flowers in perfect proportion. They mostly grow on their own roots, and aren’t budded which makes them hardier in cold climates. Also, many mini varieties bloom a lot throughout the growing season and are a great choice for small spaces. Miniatures can also be grown indoors in pots under grow lights or special full-spectrum fluorescent lights. You can’t put them on a windowsill and hope they survive, it won’t work—they won’t get enough light to thrive and blossom.

Some varieties are: ‘Green Ice’, ‘Fairhope’, ‘Child’s Play’, ‘Hurdy Gurdy’,’Anytime’

Then there are some roses that are too large to be miniatures and too small to be floribundas. So the the American Rose Society is calling them “mini-floras”, except the name “mini-floras” hasn’t yet been completely accepted by nursery workers, so for the time being these varieties are still grouped as miniatures until they decide to offically create a new category .


Eden rose

Climber roses are not vines and don’t climb like clematis or other true vines that wrap around or attach themselves to supports. Instead they grow really long canes that need to wrap around a fence, trellis, or other support. Otherwise, the plants sprawl on the ground. Flowers bloom along the whole length of the cane, especially if the cane is growing  horizontally, such as along a fence. Some climbers bloom only once in the spring, but many modern climbers produce flowers throughout the growing season.

Some climbers are: ‘Eden’, ‘New Dawn’, ‘Mme alfred Carriere’

Shrub Roses

Jen’s Munk

Shrubs Shrubs have become very popular because most are quite hardy and easy to grow, and great for landscaping. They’re generally large plants and bloom quite a lot druing the season. and most, particularly the modern shrubs, bloom profusely throughout the season. If you need and want to fill a large space with color, there is a large category of shrubs to choose from such as:

‘Blanc Double De Coubert’, ‘Golden Wings’,’Jens Munk’, ‘champlain Explorer’

Old Garden Roses

La Ville de Bruxelles

Old garden roses are also known as Antique roses, because they are a discovery or hybridized before 1867. Many of these plants bloom only once during the season. These are highly prized for their history and their fragrance.

Some are: alba series ‘alba maxima’, bourbon series ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’, damask series ‘La Ville de Bruxelles’.

Tree Roses

Winchester Cathedral

Tree roses, also called standards, aren’t included among the basic categories.  Hybrid teas, floribundas, and miniatures are grown as tree roses. You must understand that these plants are not trees. they just have that lollipop tree look. They are 2 to 6 feet high and are wonderful in the ground or in containers. Don’t forget: they are VERY sensitive to winter damage. In cold climates, you must either bury the entire plant in the ground or bring it into a cool garage.

Some types are: ‘Winchester Cathedral’, ‘Mary Rose’, ‘The Mayflower’.

Here are some ways you can take to identifying your plants.  It will be helpful if you take down some notes.

** Stand back and look at your rose. What shape does it have?

Climbers have long canes that need to be tied to a support. They grow like a small bush.

Hybrid teas grow upright and they grow one single flower per stem.

Grandifloras resemble hybrids because they grow upright but grandifloras grow clusters of flowers.

Polyanthas are large bushes that spread several feet high and wide with tiny, compact flowers.

Floribundas are compact bushes that grow lots of tiny flowers all season long in clusters along the tips of the branches.

Miniatures  grow on bushes that never grow bigger than 36 inches in height. The flowers are also small.

Helpful  suggestions to keep in mind

** Watch your rose all season and take notes of when it blooms and when it finishes to bloom. Notice any new canes growing, do they make flowers the same year or the year after? Chinese roses and many hybrid roses developed from Chinese varieties are roses that bloom repeatedly.

** Carefully run your finger along the rose cane to see the size and shape of the thorns. Roses such as damask bear large, abundant thorns while others only have small prickles.

** Pick a rose blossom from the plant and examine the rose’s shape. The structure of a rose’s blossom is a strong indicator of the subgroup of rose. Some examples of rose structures include European varieties with single blooms that have only five petals. Centifolias, a cross between damask and Albia roses that are sometimes called cabbage roses are an example of flowers with many petals.

** Smell the fragrance of the flower and smell the rose stem. The fragrance emitted by roses is another indicator of the rose’s identity. Moss roses are notable
for their balsam scent. Chinese roses have a weaker scent than European roses. Tea roses emit a scent is reminiscent of black tea.

** Consult a master gardener program, county extension agent, field guide to roses, rose society or nursery to help confirm your classification of roses. Use a rose cutting to show the rosarian expert.

Keep this in mind as you garden along

All this is possible during one season. Try to schedule a time where you can do this. Maybe early in the morning when you get up. Make yourself some coffee or tea and go outside and take a walk. it is calming and helps to wake up peacefully. Keep a binder for your notes and you can go back and revise during the season.  Roses are so beautiful and I hope these images will help grow your love more and inspire your dreams.

Hever Gardens

Peggy Rockerfeller Gardens

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