Roses make a gorgeous addition to any yard, but they aren’t for everyone. Although the rose flower is often considered one of the most beautiful flowers, some varieties can be quite difficult to grow and keep healthy.
It is important to understand that not all roses are created equal. There is a huge selection of roses available today that can be broadly divided into two categories: Old and modern roses.
Old roses are varieties of roses that existed prior to the development of modern hybrid roses in the late 1860s. Any rose known to be in existence prior to 1867 is considered an old rose.
These beautiful flowers have recently regained popularity because of their rich fragrance, interesting blooms, hardiness and disease resistance. These plants are often larger than most modern roses, and many varieties bloom only once per year.
Old rose varieties include the following:
These hardy plants, growing to a height of 6-9 feet, date back to ancient times. They bloom only once per year in late spring or early summer.
They have elegant grey-green leaves and long, arching canes. If you wish to plant beautiful flowers, consider the Alba roses as they are easy to grow, cold weather tolerant, and disease resistant.
This variety is another ancient plant, but is smaller than the Alba roses. Damask roses reach heights of 3-7 feet and have long drooping canes. They produce a single burst of beautiful pink roses and white roses in fragrant clusters. This species is very hardy.
Gallica roses (aka the French Rose) are the oldest known species. These plants grow to a height of 4-6 feet and have dark green leaves. The plant produces bright red, pink or purple roses in early summer.
This rose bush, also known as the cabbage rose, is similar in size to the damask rose. It produces large, fragrant blooms in pink, red or white. These roses bloom once per year. Unfortunately this rose is susceptible to fungal infections.
These unique plants have stems with a moss-like appearance. These plants produce early summer blooms in pink, white, red or purple flowers.
This type of rose was the first known to bloom more than once per season. The Portland rose is a small bush, typically less than 4 feet tall and produces flowers in shades of red and pink.
This vigorous, large plant can reach heights greater than 6 feet tall. It produces large, clusters of fragrant blooms and some varieties will bloom until fall.
Hybrid Perpetual Rose
The hybrid perpetual is an old rose variety that flowers repeatedly. It is a very hardy plant and can produce white, pink and maroon blooms. Some varieties of hybrid perpetual produce such dark red blooms that the plant appears to have black roses.
This large plant is a very hardy rose because it tolerates most conditions and is disease and pest resistant. The Rugosa rose blooms repeatedly and produces beautiful white, pink, red and purple flowers.
The China rose is a small plant, reaching only 2-3 feet in height. It flowers in early summer and fall producing small, not fragrant, pink and red blooms. The plant is quite fragile and does not tolerate cold climates well.
This plant, also from China, is quite frail. It blooms white, yellow and pink roses all summer long. This rose serves as the parent to many of the popular modern rose varieties in the hybrid tea rose class.
This climbing rose variety can reach heights greater than 20 feet. Noisette plants produce flowers with a very strong fragrance. Climbing roses such as the Noisette*WF can become damaged by cold climates if left without winter protection.
Ancient rose varieties have been long overlooked since the development of modern rose hybridization techniques in the 1860s. However, these beautiful roses are gaining popularity rapidly as word catches on about their hardiness and lovely blooms.
Growing old roses is extremely easy because these types of flowers will perform well in almost any location. For the best results, select an area that is open and receives at least six hours of direct sunlight for your flower bed.
Prepare the soil with quality organic materials to enrich the soil and promote good drainage. After planting your new rose bush, mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and discourage disease.
Water your plant deeply each week. Old roses will grow well in most conditions and do not require meticulous pruning. Be sure to trim away dead and diseased stems to promote growth and to keep the plant healthy.
Growing your own beautiful flowers means that you aren’t at the mercy of the local florist if you wish to buy beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day, sympathy messages, or plain old home decoration!
If growing old roses interests you, consult with your local garden store to see which varieties will perform well in your planting zone and soil type.
With so many beautiful flowers to choose from it is incredible to think that there are even more rose varieties available in the modern rose family. Check out my article about modern roses for more information*!