Common Rose Types

There are basically two main classes of roses: Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses.

Roses that are hardy to Zone 5 or lower and grow on their own roots perform best in our area.  Some roses, especially those sold at big box stores, have been grafted onto rootstock from another, hardier rose. Unfortunately, if the less hardy rose you bought the plant for cannot withstand our winters it will die, leaving the hardier rootstock to sucker out and bloom with an entirely different, and not so desirable, rose. When purchasing a rose, be sure to ask if it is “on its own roots.”

Modern Roses include Hybrid Teas, which are what most people think of  when they hear the word rose. Hybrid Teas tend to have the classic (modern) form and one-to-a-stem bloom habit.

Grandifloras generally combine the taller growth habit of the Hybrid Tea with the spray bloom habit of the Floribunda rather than one to a stem.

Floribundas, as the name suggests are “abounding in blossoms.” They tend to form clusters of blooms on each stem and make a wonderful garden display.

Shrub roses sort of bridge the gap between the modern and the old garden roses. They are more often on their own roots, tend to be hardier, and include varieties that are one-time bloomers and others that bloom throughout the growing season. They include the David Austin English Roses that combine the look and fragrance of the Old Garden Rose with the repeat bloom habit of the modern roses.

Other newer breeds of modern roses include the Romanticas, developed by Jacques Mouchotte, Generosas, and Palace Roses.

Old Garden Roses that are one-time bloomers tend to give a very heavy display of blooms in the spring, frequently with great fragrance, but there are others that will provide blooms through the growing season, such as the Damasks and Bourbons. Except for Chinas and Tea (not Hybrid Tea) roses, Old Garden Roses are hardy and generally on their own roots.

A Variety of Rose Types

What are the best roses for the Spokane area?

Spokane is in the USDA zone 5, which means our winters can go to negative twenty [-20°F] or below. Many commercial roses are grafted onto vigorous root stock. Our cold winters often kill canes down to and below this graft. Next spring, only the root stock suckers will grow. To prevent this, roses should be on their own roots [no grafts], or grafted roses should be planted with the graph several inches below the soil surface.

A few rose varieties are “tropical” and do not survive cold winters; check the rose’s cold tolerance with your nursery before you buy. There are many varieties that will survive our winters as illustrated at Spokane’s Manito Park. (The Spokane County Extension has a handy four page brochure here published in 2005. Lots of new roses have been introduced since.)


What is a ‘miniature’ rose?

Magic Carousel miniature rose
Magic Carousel miniature rose

Roses, like dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals, have been hybridized and crossed so that there are a number of different types and sizes you can purchase. The major classifications, which are made up of other sub-classes in some cases, are Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas, Polyanthas, Shrubs, Old Garden Roses, Climbing Roses and Miniature Roses.

Miniature roses actually started with the original China (Old Garden Rose) rose, Rouletti, found in a windowbox. Since that time, crosses have been made with all types of roses to come up with a rose bush that produces blooms of a small size. Because some of the larger roses are used in the crosses, size was forgiven in certain cases of exceptional roses, and miniature roses began appearing with blooms rivaling some Floribunda blooms. Because of this a new category was established, Mini-Flora Roses, to cover the larger blooms, larger leaves and/or larger bushes.

The miniature rose, "Ty"

But generally speaking a miniature rose will have a diminutive bush and smaller bloom. You can even purchase Micro Mini Roses with an even smaller bush and smaller bloom, roses such as Hat Pin, Dot Com, Jelly Bean, Si, Cinderella and Elizabeth Abler to name a few. Miniature roses are normally quite hardy as they are on their own roots, not grafted onto a rootstock of another type of rose. (The Spokane County Extension has a two page brochure here. )


What is a hybrid rose?

Many thousands of rose hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected for garden use, mostly double-flowered with many or all of the stamens mutated into additional petals. As long ago as 1840 a collection numbering over one thousand different cultivars, varieties and species was possible when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England.

Twentieth-century rose breeders generally emphasized size and color, producing large, attractive blooms with little or no scent. Many wild and “old-fashioned” roses, by contrast, have a strong sweet scent.

Rosa Glauca
Rosa Glauca


Wild Roses The wild roses includes: Briar Bush, Cherokee Rose, China Rose, Dog Rose, French Rose, Gooseberry Rose, Multiflora Rose, Redleaf Rose, Rugosa Rose, Scotch Rose, Sweet Brier, and Virginia Rose and some of their hybrids. These should properly be called “Species Roses.”


Old Garden Roses – Most Old Garden Roses are of European or Mediterranean origin are once-blooming shrubs, with notably fragrant, double-flowered blooms primarily in shades of white, pink and red. The shrubs’ foliage tends to be highly disease-resistant, and they generally bloom only on two-year-old canes.

Modern Garden Roses – Classification of modern roses can be quite confusing because many modern roses have old garden roses in their ancestry and their form varies so much. The classifications tend to be by growth and flowering characteristics, such as “large-flowered shrub”, “recurrent, large-flowered shrub”, “cluster-flowered”, “rambler recurrent”, or “ground-cover non-recurrent”. The following includes the most notable and popular classifications of Modern Garden Roses:


Hybrid Tea – The favorite rose for much of the history of modern roses, hybrid teas were initially created by hybridizing Hybrid Perpetuals with Tea roses in the late 1800s. ‘The flowers are well-formed with large, high-centered buds, and each flowering stem typically terminates in a single shapely bloom. The shrubs tend to be stiffly upright and sparsely foliaged, which today is often seen as a liability in the landscape. The hybrid tea remains the standard rose of the floral industry, however, and is still favored in small gardens in formal situations. Examples: ‘Peace’, ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ ‘Double Delight.’


Polyantha – Literally “many-flowered” roses, from the Greek “poly” (many) and “anthos” (flower). Originally derived from crosses between two East Asian species polyanthas first appeared in France in the late 1800s alongside the hybrid teas. They featured short plants – some compact, others spreading in habit – with tiny blooms (1″ in diameter on average) carried in large sprays, in the typical rose colors of white, pink and red.

From spring to fall, a healthy polyantha shrub might be literally covered in flowers, creating a strong color impact in the landscape. Polyantha roses are still regarded as low-maintenance, disease-resistant garden roses today, and remain popular for that reason. Examples: ‘Cecile Brunner’, ‘The Fairy’, ‘Red Fairy’.


Floribunda – Rose breeders quickly saw the value in crossing polyanthas with hybrid teas, to create roses with that bloomed with the polyantha profusion, but with hybrid tea floral beauty and color range and in 1909, the first polyantha/hybrid tea cross were available. Typical floribundas feature stiff shrubs, smaller and bushier than the average hybrid tea but less dense and sprawling than the average polyantha. The flowers are often smaller than hybrid teas but are carried in large sprays, giving a better floral effect in the garden. Floribundas are found in all hybrid tea colors and with the classic hybrid tea-shaped blossom. Today they are still used in large bedding schemes in public parks and similar spaces. Examples: ‘Dainty Maid’, ‘Iceberg’, ‘Tuscan Sun’. [excerpted from]


Grandiflora – Grandifloras (Latin for “large-flowered”) were the class of roses created in the mid 1900s to designate back-crosses between hybrid teas and floribundas that fit neither category – specifically, the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose, which was introduced in 1954.

Grandiflora shrubs are typically larger than either hybrid teas or floribundas, and feature hybrid tea-style flowers borne in small clusters of three to five, similar to a floribunda. Grandifloras maintained some popularity from about the 1950s to the 1980s but today they are much less popular than either the hybrid teas or the floribundas. Examples: ‘Queen Elizabeth’, ‘Comanche,’ ‘Montezuma’.

Miniature – All of the classes of Old Garden Roses – gallicas, centifolias, etc. – had corresponding miniature forms, although these were once-flowering just as their larger forms were. As with the standard-sized varieties, miniature Old Garden roses were crossed with repeat-blooming Asian species to produce everblooming miniature roses. Today, miniature roses are represented by twiggy, repeat-flowering shrubs ranging from 6″ to 36″ in height, with most falling in the 12″–24″ height range.

Blooms come in all the hybrid tea colors; many varieties also emulate the classic high-centered hybrid tea flower shape. Miniature roses are often marketed and sold by the floral industry as houseplants, but it is important to remember that these plants are largely descended from outdoor shrubs native to temperate regions; thus, most miniature rose varieties require an annual period of cold dormancy to survive. Examples: ‘Petite de Hollande’ (Miniature Centifolia, once-blooming), ‘Cupcake’ (Modern Miniature, repeat-blooming).

Above All, Climber
Above All, Climber
10 – 14′ tall.


Climbing/Rambling – As is the case with Miniature roses, all aforementioned classes of roses, both Old and Modern, have “climbing” forms, whereby the canes of the shrubs grow much longer and more flexible than the normal (“bush”) forms.

In the Old Garden Roses, this is often simply the natural growth habit of many cultivars and varieties; in many Modern roses, however, climbing roses are the results of spontaneous mutations.

For example, ‘Climbing Peace’ is designated as a “Climbing Hybrid Tea,” for it is genetically identical to the normal “shrub” form of the ‘Peace’ hybrid tea rose, except that its canes are long and flexible, i.e. “climbing.” Most Climbing roses grow anywhere from 8’–20′ in height and exhibit repeat-bloom.

Geschwind's Orden
Geschwind’s Orden, rambler, 13 – 16′, zone 3b

Rambler roses, although technically a separate class, are often lumped together with climbing roses.

They also exhibit long, flexible canes, but are distinguished from true climbers in two ways: A larger overall size (20’–30′ tall is common), and a once-blooming habit.

It should be noted that both climbing roses and rambling roses are not true vines such as ivy, clematis or wisteria; they lack the ability to cling to supports on their own, and must be manually trained and tied over structures such as arbors and pergolas.


  1. Wikipedia Garden Roses, and
  2. Wikipedia Rosa