by Rod Smith

Former Iowa Certified Nurseryman and
Oregon Certified Nursery Professional

© 1999-2024 Rodney A. Smith
All rights reserved.

Wild roses are found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle as far south as India and northern Mexico. They are not found anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

Roses appear in frescoes painted by the ancient Minoan Culture on Crete. Ancient Greek writers and poets first describe them. Rose oil was used as a medicine. The Romans used roses extensively in medicines and perfumes.

The Greeks grew Gallica roses (Rosa gallica), which grow wild in Europe. They have five to twenty petals or more. One kind was called Centifolia (Rosa x centifolia). But they bloom only once each summer.

The Romans grew Dog roses (Rosa canina) with five petals, White roses (Rosa x alba) and Gallica roses. Later, the Romans and the Egyptians grew Damask roses (Rosa x damascena), which was a hybrid between Gallica roses and Phoenician roses from the Middle East. Damask roses are so named because Crusaders reportedly brought them to Europe from Damascus. Historical evidence is contradictory.

The Romans discovered one variety called Damask Perpetual because it bloomed more than once each summer. It became fashionable to spread rose petals several inches deep at Roman banquets. They were grown in hothouses or brought over from Egypt by the shipload.

Roses fell out of favor after the fall of the Roman Empire. However, old varieties were preserved in monastery gardens where they were used medicinally.

After the end of the Middle Ages, Dutch trading ships brought many rose varieties to the Netherlands and rose breeding began. They produced Cabbage roses or Centifolia roses, so named because they had about a hundred petals on each flower and are flat topped like a large head of cabbage.

Rose breeding got a big boost when Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon, began collecting roses in her garden at Malmaison. In spite of the war, a British ship allowed a captured French ship to continue on its way because it was carrying roses for Josephine's garden. She eventually collected hundreds of varieties of roses.

Another big boost for rose breeding came in the 1830's when Chinese roses naturally crossed with European roses on the Isle of Bourbon. Chinese roses are not as hardy or as fragrant but they bloom continuously and some have bright red flowers. The resulting rose varieties are called Hybrid Perpetuals.

Further cross breeding with the Tea roses from China produced the first Hybrid Teas about 1870. Additional cross breeding with Rosa foetida to get good yellow and orange colors produced the modern Hybrid Teas about 1900. The bushes are normally four to five feet tall.

Floribunda roses were produced in the 1920's by crossing Hybrid Tea roses with Multiflora roses (Rosa rugosa), which are also called Polyantha roses, from Japan. Floribunda roses have clusters of flowers. The bushes are normally three to four feet tall.

Grandiflora roses were produced in the 1950's by crossing Floribunda roses with Hybrid Tea roses. The flowers are smaller and are either in clusters or single. The bushes are normally five to six feet tall.

Rose breeding in the late 1800's produced bright red and clear yellow flowers. In the mid 1900's, rose breeders tried to produce a true blue rose. Many claimed that they had but the roses were either lavender or mauve. No one has yet produced a true blue or a true black rose.

English roses were produced when David Austen started crossing modern roses with Centifolia roses and other old varieties. Most English roses resemble Centifolia roses in having numerous petals and a flat top. They are more fragrant and usually hardier like the old shrub roses but continuous blooming like modern roses.

Types of Roses

Hybrid Tea roses have a single rose on each stem. Most bushes grow four to five feet tall. They are the best choice for flower arranging since they have a longer stem.

Floribunda roses have a cluster of roses on each stem. Most bushes grow three to four feet tall. They produce more color in the landscape.

Grandiflora roses have either a single rose or a cluster of roses on each stem. Most bushes grow 5 to 6 feet tall.

Miniature roses are almost identical to the roses above except that the bushes and flowers are much smaller. Most bushes grow one to two feet tall.

Tree roses can be any of the above types that have been grafted onto a tall stem.

Climbing roses have very strong growing canes that can be trained up a trellis or a pillar. Some varieties produce flowers only on older wood.

The Flower Carpet roses are groundcover roses, which are disease resistant and also evergreen in the Portland area. They are now available in red, scarlet, white, pink, apple blossom, yellow, coral and amber.

Shrub roses, including English roses, rugosa roses and old roses are generally hardier than the first three types.

One big disadvantage of having Chinese roses in the parentage of modern roses is that they are much less cold hardy than the old shrub roses. Most modern roses are killed when winter temperatures reach five to ten degrees. Recently, there is revived interest in old shrub roses because of their hardiness. Rugosa roses (Rosa rugosa) and other nearly wild roses have also become more popular.

Winter Hardy Roses

These roses have proven to be very winter hardy in the Portland area.

America                    Pink             Climber
Angel Face                 Lavender         Floribunda
Betty Prior                Pink             Floribunda
China Doll                 Pink             Polyantha
Chrysler Imperial          Maroon           Hybrid Tea
Double Delight             Red/White        Hybrid Tea
F. J. Grootendorst         Red              Rugosa
Fragrant Cloud             Orange-red       Hybrid Tea
French Lace                Ivory            Floribunda
Golden Showers             Yellow           Climber
Handel                     Red/White        Climber
Hansa                      Red-violet       Rugosa
Iceberg                    White            Floribunda
Kordes Perfecta            Red              Hybrid Tea
Love                       Scarlet/white    Grandiflora
Miss All-American Beauty   Red              Hybrid Tea
Mr. Lincoln                Deep red         Hybrid Tea
New Dawn                   Pink/White       Climber
New Day                    Yellow           Hybrid Tea
Oklahoma                   Dark Red         Hybrid Tea
Olympiad                   Red              Hybrid Tea
Paradise                   Pink-lavender    Hybrid Tea
Pascali                    White            Hybrid Tea
Peace                      Yellow/Pink      Hybrid Tea
Pink Grootendorst          Pink             Rugosa
Pristine                   White/Pink       Hybrid Tea
Queen Elizabeth            Pink             Grandiflora
Sterling Silver            Lavender         Hybrid Tea
Tiffany                    Pink             Hybrid Tea
Tropicana                  Orange-red       Hybrid Tea
White Lightning            White            Hybrid Tea

Even hardier are the Buck Roses which were produced at Iowa State University by my college professor, Dr. Griffith Buck. Many are hardy enough to survive -25 degrees with no protection.

Choosing roses

There are several features about roses to consider. Flower color is the most important but there is also flower shape and number of petals. Fragrance, hardiness and disease resistance is also important. Another consideration is whether the flowers will be viewed in flower arrangements or on the bush.

One thing that is not important is whether or not the variety is patented. It does not indicate anything about the quality of the rosebush. None of the older varieties were patented. Almost all of the newer varieties are patented. The only difference is that the non-patented varieties should be less expensive because the grower does not have to pay the patent royalty fee.

The American Rose Society has a system of rating roses based on their appearance and overall quality. The best new introductions each year are designated as All American Rose Selections. One amateur rose breeder managed to have all three of his introductions selected as AARS that year: Love, Honor and Cherish.

When selecting individual rose bushes, there are some things to look for. Rose bushes are graded as #1, #1.5, #2 or #3. A #1 rose has at least three strong canes. A #1.5 has two strong canes and at least one more cane. A #2 has two strong canes or at least three medium canes. The grade indicates how strongly the rose bush grew in the field. Often, a bush that grows weakly in the field will remain weak the rest of its life. Also, the canes should be spaced out rather than clumped on one side of the bush.

Where to plant

Roses do best in full sun. They should have a minimum of eight hours of direct sun in the summer. Also, roses do not like to compete with tree roots so they should be kept away from large trees.

Some people plant roses in beds with nothing else growing with them except perhaps some low perennials. Rose beds are not that attractive in the winter but they are a natural choice for the back yard where their summer color can be appreciated. Other people work them into the landscape with other flowering shrubs.

How to plant

Loosen the soil deeply and add soil amendments such as compost or potting soil so the soil at the base of the roses is higher than the surrounding soil. Lime and bone meal are also good to add to neutralize acid soil and to add phosphorus to encourage roots and flowers. Dig a hole wider than the roots so the roots are not curled back on themselves. For bare root roses, create a cone in the center of the hole and spread out the roots, then fill in the hole. Press on the soil just enough that it holds the bush firmly in place but do not pack the soil hard.

The knob on the stem where the rosebush is grafted should be an inch above the soil where winters are mild and rainy. The knob should be at ground level in medium winter areas. The knob should be an inch underground in cold winter areas. After planting, the bush should be surrounded with an inch deep layer of mulch such as bark dust or compost.

After planting, the rose bush needs to be watered deeply to settle the soil around the roots. A dike of soil can be created around the rose bush to hold water while it is soaking in. The dike needs to be flattened before heavy rains begin so water does not stand around the bush.


In the fall when flowering stops or severe weather is expected, bushes should be cut back to waist high. This prevents winter winds from rocking the bush and damaging the roots. In late winter after cold weather is past, bushes get a final pruning depending on the type. Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas are cut off at twelve to eighteen inches tall. The lower cutting height produces fewer but larger flowers. Peace roses should be cut to twenty-four inches tall.

English roses and other shrub roses are not cut lower than waist height but crowded and spindly canes are removed. Each year, an old cane should be removed to make room for a new cane. Climbing roses are also pruned to remove crowded and spindly canes.

Always cut just above a bud and slope the cut away from the bud. Since the top bud grows the most, cut to a bud that is pointed away from surrounding canes.

Dead and diseased wood should be removed immediately.

During the growing season, spent flowers should be cut off. The leaves just below a flower are not fully formed and the buds may not be fully formed either. The stem should be cut off just above a fully formed leaf to insure a healthy bud. The stem can be cut even lower if the bush is getting too tall.

Pest control

Aphids and thrips are the worst insects on roses. Aphids can be controlled with many insecticides or even a strong spray of water. Thrips are harder to control because they hide inside the flower buds. Thrips can cause the flower buds to turn brown inside and never open. They also produce small circles with bleached out color on the flower petals. A systemic insecticide is needed to control thrips, either Orthene or Systemic Rose Care.

Black spot, rust and powdery mildew are the three most common rose diseases. Black spot is a problem almost every year but rust is worse some years than others. Powdery mildew does not appear until warmer weather. Disease control needs to be applied regularly starting as soon as the leaves begin to grow. Funginex or neem oil is effective control for all three diseases. Wilt-Pruf, an anti-dessicant, is also very effective disease control. It forms a protective layer on leaves to prevent disease spores from reaching the leaves.

Disease Resistant Roses

These roses have better than average disease resistance.

Aimbridge Rose            Apricot              English
Altissimo                 Red                  Climber
Amber Queen               Amber Pink           Floribunda
America                   Pink                 Climber
Apothecary Rose           Magenta              Gallica
Autumn Sunset             Apricot Gold         Climber
Barbara Streisand         Pink/Mauve           Hybrid Tea
Betty Prior               Pink                 Floribunda
Bewitched                 Pink                 Hybrid Tea
Blanc Double de Coubert   White                Rugosa
Bonica                    Pink                 Floribunda
Brandy                    Golden Apricot       Hybrid Tea
Bride's Dream             Pink                 Hybrid Tea
Buff Beauty               Apricot              Musk
Carefree Delight          Pink                 Groundcover
Cecile Bruner             Light Pink           Climber
Celstial                  Pale Pink            Damask
Celsiana                  Pale Pink            Damask
Collette                  Pink                 Climber
Compassion                Pink                 Climber
Dainty Bess               Pink                 Hybrid Tea
Don Juan                  Dark Red             Climber
Dortmund                  Red                  Climber
Dublin Bay                Red                  Climber
Elina                     Soft Yellow          Hybrid Tea
Europeana                 Red                  Floribunda
Flora Danica              Copper Orange        Hybrid Tea
Flower Carpet Series      Pink, Red, White     Groundcover
Flutterbye                Yellow/Pink          Shrub
Folklore                  Warm Salmon          Hybrid Tea
Fragrant Cloud            Orange/Red           Hybrid Tea
Fragrant Memory           Lavender/Pink        Hybrid Tea
Frederic Mistral          Light Pink           Hybrid Tea
French Lace               Ivory                Floribunda
George Burns              Yellow/Red           Hybrid Tea
Ghislaine de Felgonde     Pale Orange          Multiflora
Golden Showers            Yellow               Climber
Gourmet Popcorn           White                Miniature
Graham Thomas             Golden Yellow        English
Handel                    Red/White            Climber
Hansa                     Magenta              Rugosa
Honor                     White                Hybrid Tea
Iceberg                   Icy White            Floribunda
Intrigue                  Plum                 Floribunda
Jingle Bells              Red Blend            Miniature
Joseph's Coat             Yellow/Red           Climber
Just Joey                 Buff Orange          Hybrid Tea
Kardinal                  Bright Red           Hybrid Tea
Karen Blixen              White                Hybrid Tea
Kathryn Morley            Soft Pink            English
Keepsake                  Deep Pink            Hybrid Tea
Las Vegas                 Orange/Copper Yellow Hybrid Tea
Liebenszauber             Red                  Hybrid Tea
Liverpool Echo            Orange/Pink          Floribunda
Liverpool Remembers       Orange/Red           Hybrid Tea
Livin' Easy               Apricot/Orange       Floribunda
Love                      Scarlet/White        Grandiflora
Lynn Anderson             Cream/Pink           Hybrid Tea
Margaret Merril           White                Floribunda
Matangi                   Orange Red           Floribunda
Mister Lincoln            Deep Red             Hybrid Tea
Moonshadow                Silver/Lavender      Hybrid Tea
New Dawn                  Pink/White           Climber
New Zealand               Pink                 Hybrid Tea
Nicole                    Pink/White           Floribunda
Octoberfest               Yellow/Orange        Grandiflora
Olympiad                  Red                  Hybrid Tea
Oregold                   Yellow               Hybrid Tea
Pascali                   White                Hybrid Tea
Peace                     Yellow/Pink          Hybrid Tea
Perfume Delight           Rose Pink            Hybrid Tea
Playboy                   Red/Yellow           Floribunda
Playgirl                  Pink                 Floribunda
Polka                     Golden Apricot       Climber
Pristine                  White/Pink           Hybrid Tea
Prosperity                White                Musk
Queen Elizabeth           Pink                 Grandiflora
Regensberg                Deep Pink            Floribunda
Robin Hood                Rose Pink            Musk
Rosa alba                 White to Pink        Old Garden
Rosa robusta              Scarlet              Rugosa
Rosamundi                 Red/White            Hybrid Tea
Royal Sunset              Apricot              Climber
Sally Holmes              Ivory                Climber
Scentimental              Red/White            Floribunda
Secret                    Ivory/Pink           Hybrid Tea
Sexy Rexy                 Pink                 Floribunda
Showbiz                   Red                  Floribunda
Signature                 Pink/White           Hybrid Tea
Silver Jubilee            Silvery Pink Peach   Hybrid Tea
Summer's Kiss             Soft Amber           Hybrid Tea
Sunsprite                 Yellow               Floribunda
The Fairy                 Light Pink           Polyantha
Therese Bugnet            Pink/Lavender        Rugosa
Tiffany                   Pink                 Hybrid Tea
Timeless                  Deep Pink            Hybrid Tea
Topaz Jewel               Pale Yellow          Rugosa
Tournament of Roses       Coral Pink           Grandiflora
Trumpeter                 Orange Red           Floribunda
Valencia                  Apricot Cream        Hybrid Tea
Voodoo                    Orange Blend         Hybrid Tea
Viva                      Dark Red             Floribunda
Voodoo                    Orange Blend         Hybrid Tea
Wild Spice                White                Rugosa
Wildberry Breeze          Pink/Lavender        Rugosa
Wonderstripe              Rose/White           Floribunda
Yves Piaget               Mauve Pink           Hybrid Tea

Of the roses rated by the Oregon State Extension Service, the most disease-resistant roses on the list are:
Hybrid Teas: Electron, Just Joey, Keepsake, Las Vegas, Silver Jubilee and Voodoo.
Grandifloras: Love, Tournament of Roses.
Floribundas: Europeana, Impatient, Liverpool Echo, Matangi, Playboy, Playgirl, Regensberg, Sexy Rexy, Showbiz, Trumpeter and Viva.
Climbers: Dortmund, Dublin Bay and Royal Sunset.

WARNING!! If you click on a link and a blank screen opens, then connects to a strange website, especially if you see a robot, CLOSE THE NEW WINDOW IMMEDIATELY!! The links will work correctly after the first time.

Home Page
Site Map

Common and Scientific Names of Trees, Shrubs, Vines & Perennials
Perennials by Flower Season and Height
Perennials in Alphabetical Order
Shrubs by Flower Season and Height
Shrubs in Alphabetical Order
Tree Color by Season and Height
Trees in Alphabetical Order
Vine Color by Season and Height
Vines in Alphabetical Order

hit counter