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Although many people think of one particular variety when they think of roses, the plant is actually incredibly diverse. There are heirloom roses, climbing roses, groundcover roses, English tea roses, and more. And while caring for some roses can be labor-intensive, others are much more forgiving of a gardener's time and effort. To help you sort through the differences, the Rose section of the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia includes many types of roses, sortable by both scientific and common name and distinguished by USDA Hardiness Zone. The Plant Encyclopedia also contains common growing conditions and limitations such as moisture, sun, and shade. You'll also find rose-care tips such as ideal pruning and garden locations, growing habits and rose types, as well as ideas for using roses in the landscape.
The acrobats of the rose world, climbing varieties develop long canes well adapted to training on pillars, fences, arbors, and gazebos. Most climbing roses are mutations or variations of bush-type varieties. They develop either large, single flowers or clustered blooms on a stem. Climbers may bloom once a season or continually, depending on the variety. Climbers can be trained to bloom more heavily by leading their canes in a horizontal direction. Loose anchoring to a support will encourage young plants to climb.
One of the biggest challenges for late 20th-century rose breeders was restoring fragrance while improving vigor of new rose introductions. English-style roses provide a lush, romantic solution. The flowers are densely filled with petals, much like antique roses, and most possess a strong fragrance that harkens back to old-fashioned tea roses. Yet their growth habits, health, and, most of all, their tendency to repeat bloom, are an improvement on their ancestors.
English roses are a good choice for cutting gardens. Their full, intensely perfumed flowers make sumptuous bouquets. Some varieties climb if left unpruned and can be trained along a fence or arbor
Shown here: Heritage English rose
Floribunda roses offer a bouquet on every branch. The small flowers look like elegant hybrid tea blooms but appear in clusters instead of one flower per stem. Floribundas are a cross between polyantha species roses and hybrid teas, combining hardiness, free flowering, and showy, usually fragrant blooms. Sizes of these hardy roses vary from compact and low-growing to a more open habit and heights of 5-6 feet, ideal for tall hedges. The foliage on floribunda roses tends to shrug off diseases, making for a low-maintenance plant that delivers maximum impact with its continuous bloom cycles. Most floribundas require very little spring pruning -- just removal of dead or damaged wood.
Floribunda roses offer a bouquet on every branch. The small flowers look like elegant hybrid tea blooms, but they appear in clusters instead of one flower per stem. Floribundas are a cross between polyantha species roses and hybrid teas, combining hardiness, free flowering, and showy, usually fragrant blooms. Sizes of these hardy roses vary from compact and low-growing to a more open habit and heights of 5-6 feet, ideal for tall hedges. The foliage on Floribunda roses tends to shrug off diseases, making for a low-maintenance rose that delivers maximum impact with continuous bloom cycles. Most floribundas require very little spring pruning -- just removal of dead or damaged wood.
Grandiflora roses blend the best traits of hybrid teas and floribundas. They produce the same elegantly shaped blooms as hybrid teas, but in long-stemmed clusters that continually repeat, like floribundas. The plants tend to be tall (up to 7 feet), hardy, and disease-resistant. Because of their size, grandifloras are suited to hedging and flower-border backgrounds. This rose category was created to accommodate the unique 'Queen Elizabeth' rose introduced in 1955.
A new breed of landscaping roses came about with the advent of shrub roses, which offer beautiful ways to fill in borders and cover bare earth. The low-growing groundcover roses are useful for mass planting in a border or under a tree, and to mix colorfully with perennials or shrubs, line a path, cover a slope, or to be planted in hanging baskets or window boxes for a bloom-spilling display.
To reinvigorate groundcover roses each year, cut back the plants by two-thirds while they are still dormant in early spring.
Hybrid teas traditionally produce the showiest blooms. In fact, most roses at florist shops are hybrid tea varieties. Today's rose breeding emphasizes fragrance as well as plant vigor. The form of a hybrid tea rose is tall and upright, with sparse foliage toward the base. The blooms develop singly on long stems, and the buds are often as elegant as the open blooms.
Hybrid teas require careful pruning while still dormant in early spring to ensure good air circulation through the plant and development of vigorous, healthy canes. A sunny location with well-drained, fertile soil and rose food applied at least three times a season will guarantee abundant flowers to enjoy in a vase. Protect roses in climates colder than Zone 6 with heavy mulching around the base of the plant.
Gardeners limited in space can enjoy all the fun of rose growing by cultivating miniature roses in containers. They also adapt well to flowerbed edging, front-of-the-border socializing with perennials and annuals, and low hedges.
Miniature roses first came into being in the early 1930s as an accidental result of rose hybridizing. Since then, master miniaturists have created many jewel-like varieties featuring perfectly shaped tiny blooms on clean, healthy plants that generally stay under 2 feet.
Miniature roses respond to all the care basics of regular-size roses -- deep irrigation, sunshine. and regular fertilizing -- but they do need extra winter protection in colder climates. To ensure the plant doesn't die back to the roots, in Zone 5 and below, bury the rose plant in a mound of soil.
Shrub roses take the best of the hardiest rose species, and combine those traits with modern repeat blooming and diverse flower forms, colors and fragrances. Some shrub roses may grow tall, with vigorous, far-reaching canes; others stay compact. Recent rose breeding has focused on developing hardier shrub roses for landscaping that need little to no maintenance.
If you favor a slightly wilder look in your garden, look to the ancestors of roses you grow and enjoy for many of the same admirable qualities. Most species roses offer small blooms, and they usually appear only once a season, but the landscaping benefits make them worthwhile to include in borders and background plantings. Most species roses can tolerate extreme weather conditions and because of their colorful hips (fruit), they are good choices for attracting birds and other wildlife to the garden. The canes are often vigorous and arching. Stems may be highly colored but are almost always thorny, making large species good candidates for privacy hedging and deer-frequented areas.
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