Overview of Rose Types: Wild, Old Garden & Modern

February 2, 2014

There are over 100 species of rose with colors ranging from white through yellows and reds. Most species are native to Asia with some native to North America, Europe and Northwest Africa. Roses can be grouped into three main groups: Species (Wild) Roses and their hybrids, Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses.

Species Wild Roses

The botanical term for this group is Species Roses but they are more commonly known as wild roses because these roses occur naturally in the wild without any help from man. True wild roses are all single flowers with exactly five petals almost all in pink with a few reds and whites. They typically bloom around the end of June or early July. Their stems usually have thorns and their compound leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and they often have a bushy appearance and interesting fall color.

2014-0202 Wild Rose


In North America, widespread species rose is the Carolina Rose that grows in thickets and the Swap Rose that grows in wet ground. They are both native to areas along the Atlantic seaboard. From Ontario down to Texas you’ll find Rosa Blanda or Prairie Rose. Most roses native to North America are exactly have five petals and most of the native rose plants are small shrubs.

Wild roses are pest and disease resistant plants and are able to tolerate just about any type of soil. Since wild roses spread by an extensive root system, the plants serve as an effective erosion control on slopes and harsh areas. In late summer and throughout much of winter, a small apple like seeds would appear which rich source of vitamins A and C are, and are an important source of winter sustenance of birds and mammals.

Old Garden Roses

Old Garden Roses are sometimes called Heritage or Historic Roses. They were popular before the 20th century and most notable for their hardiness and disease resistance. The Old Garden Rose is much more fragrant than their modern counterparts and is usually multi-petalled. Their high petal count and fragrance make them a popular choice for weddings and events. The Old Garden Rose group includes the following classifications: Alba, Ayrshire, Bourbon, Borsault, Centifolia, China, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual, Moss, Noisette, Portland, Ramblers and Tea.

2014-0202 Old Garden Rose

Alba Rose Photo Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/63532254@N00/521449837/

Alba – likely a cross between Rosa canina and Rose damascena, have pink to white blooms and bloom around late spring /  early summer.

Ayrshire – can reach heights of 20 to 30 feet and covered with thousands of blooms.  They bloom around late spring / early summer.

Bourbon – they are fragrant, full and cupped in shades of light pinks to deep pinkish red. They flower repeatedly vigorous, frequently semi-climbing shrubs with glossy foliage and purple-tinted canes.

Borsault – blooms in early summer and are characterized as having fragrant purplish-red blossoms.


Centifolia – known as Cabbage roses or as Provence roses. They are packed with 100 or more petals, they bloom only once in early summer and are used in the fragrance industry.

China – cultivated in East Asia for centuries. They have smaller and less fragrant blooms but they could bloom repeatedly throughout summer and into late autumn.

Damask – are white to shades of deep pink and are typically once blooming. They are winter hardy and tend to have angy to sprawling growth habits and strongly scented blooms.

Gallica – also known as Rose of Provins or French Rose; oldest cultivated roses dating back to the 12th century. They flower only once in the summer and unlike other Old Garden Roses, the Gallica class includes shades or maroon, red and deep purplish crimson.

Hybrid Perpetual – they were a dominant class of roses in Victorian England. They are the forerunners of the modern Hybrid Tea and English roses. The Hybrid Perpetuals were somewhat a catch-all class derived to a great extent from the Bourbons with admixtures of Chinas, teas, damasks and gallicas.

Moss – is a mutation of centifolia, cabbage rose and damask rose. They are named for their mossy like growth on their punduncles and sepals. They are shrub like growing to about 4 feet tall and are usually once blooming.

Noisette – typically smaller in stature, shrubby with scented blooms.

Portland – are smaller in stature and bear flowers that are heavily scented of Damask. Portland roses may have a repeat bloom in the fall.

Ramblers – characterized by long, sprawling, pliable canes. They bear small blossoms followed by orange-red hips.

Tea – are repeat-flowering roses, named for their fragrance being reminiscent of Chinese black tea. Colour range includes pastel shades of white, pink and yellow to apricot.

Modern Roses

Modern Roses are the species of that most people imagine when they picture roses. The most popular roses sold and the ones that have the most name recognition in the modern rose class are the hybrid tea, floribunda, and grandiflora.

Hybrid Tea – typically have long pointed buds on long stems that offer an endless pallet of colors. All colors except for blue and black can be found in Hybrid Tea roses.

Floribunda – a cross between Hybrid Tea Rose and Polyantha. They are compact with superior hardiness and are disease resistant.

Grandiflora – tend to carry their flowers in clusters on top of tall stems. This class was created in 1954 to describe a new rose developed from a cross between hybrid tea and floribunda roses.

2014-0202 Hybrid Tea Rose

Mr. Lincoln Hybrid Tea Rose Photo Source:  http://dear-to-me.blogspot.com/2012/06/rose-by-every-name.html


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