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Rose Articles

Understanding Different Types of Roses

by Brenda Viney, Vancouver Rose Society

Brenda Viney offers some basic rose information on the difference between Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses, for those novices who want to understand Rose Show Categories.


An Old Garden Rose (OGR) is anything that was introduced prior to 1867 and also includes those roses that are new introductions but have been bred out of the early cultivars.




Examples of OGRs include Alba, Bourbon, Centifolia, China, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual, Moss, Noisette, Portland, and Species (a whole set unto themselves), to name some of the more common ones (even I forget the rest without a reference book at hand!).

Many (but not all) of these roses only bloom once for four to six weeks in June but are extremely floriferous and usually very fragrant. Many then produce beautiful "hips" for a second flush of enjoyment in late summer/early fall. Some also tend to grow fairly large (but there are smaller growing ones too!) and are usually in white, pink and burgundy colours. There is the odd yellow but NO orange!

Orange was not bred into roses until the modern roses were introduced. Many people who only grow OGRs are rather snobbish about never allowing "harsh" peach, orange or yellow colours into their gardens because they can clash with their beloved OGRs. These growers’ rose gardens are mainly in white, pink and blue/mauve colors to compliment the perennials they also usually grow. The effect is a soft, calming sea of colours that will soothe any soul.

OGRs usually grow with many blooms on one stem rather than just one bloom. Some also have very short stems which can present problems with cutting and exhibiting because the stems are not long enough to highlight the full beauty of the rose. But the proliferation of blooms absolutely makes up for this small short-coming!

Modern Roses

Modern roses were first introduced in 1867 with “La France” – this was the turning point in the production of roses with the start of repeat blooming, high pointed centre blooms.




Modern roses include: hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, climbers, miniatures, hybrid rugosa, hybrid musk, polyantha, David Austin English, and "shrub" roses, to name the major ones. Shrub roses encompass a huge number of roses as more people are going away from the fussier HT and Fl roses and growing the “easier to grow - fit better into the landscape” shrubs. Many hybridizers are now starting to produce more and more shrub roses as this is what the public is asking for.

Very different from a shrub rose that produces multiple blooms per stem, but definitely harder to grow, the hybrid tea roses usually produce one bloom per stem. Floribundas give you a handful of blooms on top of one stem. Minis grow both ways. Austins usually grow multiple blooms but some produce single blooms per stem.

All of the modern roses bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season - May to October in Vancouver, depending on how cold it gets later in the season. Luckily we quite often have lots of bloom in October. Some roses, however, have a main flush in June and then there is a long wait until their second flush in late August or September. Others seem to be continually in bloom as new growth sets buds while the old growth is still blooming.

Modern roses come in every colour EXCEPT blue.






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