They say roses are red, but probably not blue. Roses also come in pink, yellow, peach and other hues. How many rose types are out there, really? And how do you know which variety will make the right addition to your yard? It’s time to start seeing your garden through rose-coloured glasses, once and flor-al.
How do you pick a rose?
The perennial question: how do you know which type of rose to plant in your garden? There are a few points to consider when choosing your best bud:
Colour plays a huge role when thinking of the right variety to pick. There is an attached meaning and symbolism to every rose colour. You’ll want to do your research if you’re planning on gifting your cut roses for special occasions. Yellow roses, for example, can stand for friendship. In some cultures, they also represent infidelity or jealousy. Not to make choosing rose varieties tricky, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re not after context and just looking to refresh your garden with happy hues, roses won’t lack for bright shades of red, pink, yellow, white, and apricot. Some roses also come in pastels, if you’re into more muted colours. For those looking for a unique look, there are rose varieties that have two-toned, flecked, or even striped petals. Here are some types of roses according to colour.
Types of white roses
- ‘Polar Star’
Types of red roses
- ‘Crimson Glory’
- ‘Benjamin Britten’
- ‘Darcey Bussell’
Types of yellow roses
- ‘Teasing Georgia’
- ‘Golden Celebration’
- ‘Sun Sprinkles’
- ‘Graham Thomas’
- ‘Julia Child’
Types of pink roses
- ‘Charles Bonnet’
- ‘Coral Seas’
- ‘Mary Rose’
- ‘Royal Jubilee’
- ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’
Rose plants vary in size, and so do their flowers. Miniature varieties are perfect for small gardens and balconies, while larger ones such as the grandiflora are great for landscaped gardens and cut floral arrangements.
With rose cultivars being cross-bred here and there, many hybrid varieties are losing their perfume. Breeding disease-resistant roses comes at a cost, and the price is your rose’s lovely fragrance. To give your garden that coveted floral scent, look to Old Garden roses such as Damask and Centifolia roses. These plants are your strong contenders in the fragrance aspect, and beautiful to behold as well. (But on that point, aren’t all roses stunning?)
Growing roses isn’t just for gardening veterans. If you’re a first-time rose grower (or feel you’re black-thumbed when it comes to roses), you can still enjoy having these exquisite flowers in your garden. Luckily, most types of roses in Australia are tough and resistant to disease – perfect when you’re after low-maintenance plant care.
Determining your goal for planting roses can help you pick the best variety for your garden. A rose bush isn’t just a sight for sore eyes, that’s for sure. It’s pretty functional, too. Roses can be used as a landscaping accent, as a wall cover-up or groundcover, or grown to make your own cut floral arrangements.
Different types of roses
Roses can be classified into 3 major categories: Species or wild roses, Old Garden roses, and Modern Garden roses. These 3 groups are further subdivided into different hybrid rose varieties. To learn more about them, read our ultimate list of rose types below. There’s one for every flower child out there.
Species or wild roses
One word: prehistoric! This rose variety has been around for nearly 40 million years, if you can imagine. Species roses are purist by nature – they’re not cross-bred with other rose varieties. Their simple form and vigorous growth make them a good addition to less structured landscapes.
You’ll likely see these wild roses adorning hedgerows, or growing profusely in forests. Species roses bloom in early summer, producing five-petal single flowers that showcase vivid colours of white, yellow, or pink.
Old Garden roses
It’s not everyday that you get a flower that’s recognised as an heirloom. Sometimes referred to as Heritage or Historic roses, Old Garden roses are those bred before 1867. These are your quintessential romantic roses. Unlike most of the roses grown today, Old Garden roses have retained their heady rose fragrance. Their flowers can be identified by their dainty shape and high petal count.
Don’t be fooled by their seemingly delicate constitution, though. Most Old Garden roses are, in fact, quite hardy plants. They’re fairly cold-tolerant and disease-resistant. Old Garden roses bloom once a year, during the summer.
Alba roses’ history is a tale as old as time – as old as 100 AD, in fact. These rose plants have enviable blue-green foliage that grow on tall branches. Alba roses are called such because of their faint colour which ranges from pale pink to white. They bloom once during late spring or early summer.
Alba roses are tougher than they look. This rose variety is quite easy to care for and is cold- and disease-resistant. You won’t have a hard time tending to this one.
Like most rose varieties, bourbon roses are a hybrid between 2 rose varieties. Bourbon roses are a cross between Damask and China roses, and named after Ile Bourbon in France, where they were first cultivated in 1817.
Bourbon roses are old climbing roses, which means that their vine-like growth is a natural mechanism for them. They can be trained to grow on a support and used as a wall cover-up in your garden. It’s hard not to love these gentle roses – they are almost thornless, and bloom repeatedly throughout the year.
When it comes to rose royalty, Centifolia roses are up there along with Hybrid Tea roses. Their tightly-packed petals resemble a cabbage, which earned this rose variety the nickname ‘Cabbage roses’. Centifolias also go by the name Provence roses.
Centifolias have pink or white flowers that bloom once in early summer. These roses are prized in the perfume industry for their strong fragrance. They’re perfect if you’re building a garden getaway in your backyard. You will need to put in extra care when you have these in your garden, however. Unfortunately, they’re not as disease-resistant as other rose varieties.
China roses are a practical choice if you’re looking for a disease-resistant variety. Their constitution leans toward the delicate side, however, so they may need to be protected from harsh winds and cold temperatures.
While these roses can’t hold a candle to the likes of Centifolias, China roses are still attractive in their own right. Their fragrant flowers come in different colours and are known to be repeat bloomers during summer and late fall.
Along with Alba roses, Damask roses are some of the most antique rose varieties out there. The versatility of their flowers makes Damask roses one of the most popular roses around. You’ll find Damask roses used commercially in making perfume, rose water, and herbal tea.
Flowering season for this variety depends on its subgroup. Summer Damasks bloom once during summer, and Autumn Damasks, or the Four Seasons Damask, bloom during summer and fall. Damask roses will add beautiful white or pink colour and a delicate fragrance to your garden.
Gallica roses, or French roses, are among the oldest rose species in the world. This rose variety can trace its roots all the way back to the 12th century.
With a flatter, more open form, Gallicas aren’t your typical-looking roses. The petals come in rich colours of fuchsia, purple, and red. Some varieties even have striped petals. Gallica roses can grow in the shade and are fairly tolerant of cold. Their flowers bloom once, during summer. These roses are grown for their strong perfume and medicinal properties.
Hybrid Perpetual roses
Hybrid Perpetual roses may not be as popular now as they were back in the 19th century, but they haven’t lost their stately charm and elegance. These roses have large, fragrant flowers attached to tall canes. Some varieties have white flowers, but most come in vivid shades of fuchsia, purple, and red.
Moss roses look less like Hybrid Tea roses (which many consider as the gold standard among rose varieties) and resemble yellow, fuchsia, or red wildflowers instead. These tiny roses have a subtle woody scent quite unlike the vanilla-esque or musky fragrance other varieties have. Most moss roses are drought tolerant. They spread easily and have compact deep green leaves, making them excellent groundcover roses.
Noisette roses are dreamy rose bushes that can be trained to grow as climbers. Their pastel flowers bloom in tight clusters that complement brick walls, trellises, and fences beautifully. Noisette roses’ lush shrubbery and tender canes also make them an ideal choice for canopies.
Contrary to popular belief, Portland roses aren’t related to Portland, Oregon in any way at all. They are, in fact, named after the Duchess of Portland who received the Scarlet Four Seasons rose as a token in 1775. The rose went on to be known as ‘The Portland Rose’, the ancestor of succeeding varieties such as the James Veitch rose, Rose de Rescht rose, and Comte de Chambord rose.
A rose fit for royalty has traits that roses are famous for, such as a distinct floral perfume and a lovely rosy hue. Portland roses are known for their short shrubs and flower stalks. Most varieties bloom during the summer months, with some continuing to bloom through autumn.
Rambling roses are either the beauty or the beast in your garden. You’ll need to rein it in – or train it – for you to make the most out of this variety. Otherwise, it’s just complete chaos.
Ramblers are known to take over whatever space they can crawl on. They are the ideal rose variety to grow on fences, trellises, or walls. Ramblers’ flowers are small to medium in size and grow in clusters. While rambling roses aren’t repeat bloomers, you won’t lack dazzling blooms during the flowering season with this variety.
Rambling roses are responsible for those romantic rose-studded archways you see in parks and gardens. When trained to grow on a support, rambling roses can transform any outdoor space from mundane to magical. Leave them be and their vigorous growth turns to mayhem.
Take care to trim them regularly to prevent this from happening. If you feel that your ramblers are growing out of control (and frankly too intimidating to prune), it’s helpful to hire professional pruning and trimming services for best results.
Have you ever wondered where Tea roses got their name from? Tea roses are named such because of their faint black tea-like fragrance. These roses originated from China and have been cross-bred with Hybrid Perpetual roses to produce the famous Hybrid Tea rose variety.
Tea roses have large fragrant flowers that come in pretty shades of cream, pink, yellow, and peach. The edges of a tea rose’s petals are slightly curled, giving them a soft and delicate appearance. These roses are resistant to disease and are repeat bloomers.
Modern Garden roses
If you’re looking for a rose that can stay fresh in the vase for long, Modern Garden roses are the right choice for you. This rose category is a popular pick among florists and homeowners because of its large bloom size and ability to retain its constitution when cut. A downside to Modern Garden roses is their lack of fragrance. You can’t ‘stop and smell the roses’ with this one, unfortunately. You’ll also be spending some time in your garden tending to these roses. Not all Modern Garden roses are hardy and disease-resistant.
Trivia time: Wondering why these roses are called ‘Modern Garden’? Of the multitude of roses cultivated through the centuries, Modern Garden roses are relatively young. They’re bred after 1867, making them more recent than Old Garden varieties.
David Austin roses
If you love roses and you’re not yet a member of David Austin’s fanbase, you should be. This mover and shaker in the rose farming industry developed over 200 rose hybrids during his lifetime. Having combined traits from Old and Modern Garden roses, David Austin was able to come up with roses that had the best of both worlds. David Austin roses are known for their lovely colour and rosette form, heavy perfume, and multiple blooms. As with some other Modern Garden roses, however, they’re not hardy and resistant to disease.
Floribunda rose varieties are a cross between Hybrid Tea roses and Polyantha roses. These disease-resistant roses produce clusters of yellow, pink, orange, purple or white flowers. Because of their abundant blooms and low-maintenance nature, they’re quite popular in public spaces like parks and gardens.
As their name suggests, Grandiflora roses are the flamboyant variety among the bunch. Bold and beautiful, Grandiflora rose bushes inherited the long stems and prominent blooms of their ancestor, the Hybrid Tea rose. Another rose variety, Floribunda roses, is responsible for the vigorous growth cycle of Grandiflora roses.
You can’t go wrong with these roses if you’re looking for a sturdy and attractive plant to grow in your garden. A Grandiflora rose can appear as a single flower, or come in clusters of 3 to 5 flowers. You’ll get to enjoy having Grandifloras in your garden as they’re also fairly hardy compared to other rose varieties.
Roses aren’t just for bouquets and vases. Groundcover roses, or landscape roses, are called such because they’re lush and easy to grow horizontally. Groundcover roses can be used to cover a bald spot or fill in spaces. Imagine a burst of pink, peach, or red flowers across your garden. Instead of your usual bamboo or murraya hedges, this rose variety will give you plenty of colour and fragrance to enjoy.
Hybrid Musk roses
Go for Hybrid Musk roses if you’re after hardiness, fragrance, and appearance. These roses are known for their sweet musk-like scent and delicately coloured floral clusters. Some varieties exhibit a pale pink hue, while others have yellow, cream, or deep pink petals. Evenings are when their fragrance is at its strongest.
Hybrid Musk roses are well-loved among rose growers because of their resistance to disease and tolerance to shade. They’re also versatile and can be trained as climbers or grown as lush shrubs.
Hybrid Rugosa roses
Hybrid Rugosa roses are more similar in form to Gallica roses. Instead of the usual tight rosebud form, Hybrid Rugosa flowers are more open-faced and have loosely packed petals. These roses also grow tall, with some plants reaching a height of 2m.
You’ll love this rose variety for a lot of reasons. Aside from their bright green foliage and small colourful blossoms, Hybrid Rugosas are the right choice for you if you’re looking for a hardy rose plant. They can tolerate cold and drought well and are easy to care for.
Hybrid Tea roses
Bring colour to your world with the queen among the roses. Hybrid Tea roses carry the best traits of their ancestors, the Hybrid Perpetual rose and the old-fashioned Tea rose. They’re a joy to have in your garden because they’re easy to care for and are repeat bloomers. They also come in thornless varieties, which makes rose pruning a whole lot easier.
When it comes to form, Hybrid Tea roses are a cut above the rest. Just take a look at a Hybrid Tea rose and you’ll see why it’s a popular choice among florists. Each brightly-coloured bloom can reach a width of 8-12.5cm and contain up to 60 petals. The Hybrid Tea rose’s signature rosebud shape and long elegant stem make it one of the most celebrated roses for gardens and cut floral arrangements.
Modern Climbing roses
Modern climbing roses aren’t really your typical vine, but they mimic a similar mechanism. When trained to grow on a support, they can fill up trellises and climb on fences. Unlike old climbing roses, however, modern climbers’ vine-like movement doesn’t come naturally to them. Instead, it is either the result of a mutation or mechanical intervention.
These roses can reach up to a height of 4.5m when grown vertically. They’re at their best when grown horizontally, however, as they produce more flowers this way. And produce flowers, they do! Climbing roses are known to bloom profusely, and yield large flowers as well.
Most shrub roses are a cross between Old Garden roses and Modern Garden roses. These hardy rose bushes are low-maintenance and disease-resistant. While its blooms are no match for the Hybrid Tea’s beauty, shrub roses are an ideal match for you if you’re looking for colour and enthusiastic flower growth. With this variety, you’ll have captivating roses in your garden without the fuss. It’s no wonder that first-time rose growers love them.
Another low-maintenance rose variety is the Polyantha rose. Polyanthas are one of the parents of the famous Floribunda roses. While this variety is not as strikingly beautiful as the Hybrid Tea rose, it is one of the most prolific roses around.
With proper training and support, you’ll enjoy having Polyantha roses. These clusters of white, pink, and red flowers will beautify your garden from spring to fall. You won’t break your back tending to them, either. Polyantha roses are disease-resistant, easy to care for, and hardy.