Understanding Rose Classifications
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 16, 2022)
Understanding rose classifications can often seem to be a bit of a pipe dream. The reason for this is that there are literally over 100 distinct species of roses, and countless hybrids are already in circulation with more being introduced all the time. That being said, there are some classifications that seem to have been agreed upon. Understanding those rose classifications can be a great help in getting started.
- Miniatures. The roses that fall into this particular classification are, as you can probably guess, fairly small. On average, the blossoms of these particular types of roses will be as small as a child's fingernail or as large as a quarter. On average the whole plant itself will range in height from as small as one foot, to no more than four feet tall. The sub-classification of mini-flora roses will have the second smallest of buds which, while larger than the miniatures, are still smaller than anything else.
- Polyanthas. Roses in the polyanthas (and floribundas) classification are particularly prolific plants which usually grow on bushes that will usually grow to be no more than four feet tall. When the roses bloom they will appear as clusters of flowers.
- Hybrid teas. The hybrid tea roses will have the appearance of the "classic" rose, with high centered blossoms on a long stem. In addition hybrid tea roses usually have a fragrance that range from the really strong to no scent at all. Grandiflora roses look an awful lot like the hybrid teas, however the blossoms are often clustered when they begin to bloom. Typically, these particular classification of roses are the most popular types to have in the cutting garden.
- Climbers and shrubs. Roses in this particular classification are particularly hardy and resistant to disease and cold weather. When they begin to bloom they do it all over the place rather than in clusters like their cousins. Additionally, these types of roses can easily grow to six feet tall, and if they have been trained to climb, they can grow to 12 feet or more.
- Old garden. Old garden roses have been around the longest of all the classifications. In fact, these types of roses (which include the gallica, damask, alba, bourbon, moss, and more) have been around since the times of the Romans, and even longer. In fact, this particular classification are the very definition of "classic" roses.
Keep in mind that these are only some of the more commonly used classification names for roses. Other than scientific names and classifications, there really is no universally agreed upon groupings of roses that can be called definitive. That being said, the classifications listed above will allow you to have a reasonably intelligent discussion with any nursery owner.
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