Modern Roses Fulfill the Gardener's Dream for Color, Form and Continuous Bloom

Modern roses have been developed to fulfill nearly every desire of the home gardener, hobbyist, florist, or commercial grower.  A wide range of colors now exist that were unknown even a few decades ago. A desire for longer bloom periods and repeat blooming fueled the efforts of hybridizers.  Exquisitely shaped Hybrid Teas with elegant pointed buds and long stems perfect for arrangements have been a hit since they were introduced in the late 19th c.   Over the past few decades, rose breeders such as David Austin, developed shrub roses perfect for the home landscape that featured repeat blooming and modern colors with the shape and delightful fragrance of the old garden roses. 

Hybrid Teas

When ‘La France,’ the first hybrid tea rose, was introduced in 1867 it created such a sensation and desire for this new type of rose that the old garden roses fell into disfavor.  What was so exceptional about ‘La France’ that made everyone go gaga?  It had long stems that were great for cutting, it had tight high-centered buds that unfurled to large, full blooms with petals that recurved and were very fragrant. 

Hybrid Teas, still the most popular group of roses in the world today, were created by crossing older groups of roses such as Hybrid Perpetuals and Teas, which brought repeat blooming and fragrance.  Rosa foetida was also introduced into breeding programs which we can thank for adding yellows, oranges and reds into the color range; but that increase in color variety, came at the cost of a susceptibility to fungal diseases like blackspot—the bane of all rose growers.  As beautiful as the flowers of Hybrid Teas are, the shrubs themselves often lack the grace of the old garden roses being rather stiff and difficult to combine with other garden plants, so they are often grown in formal beds for cutting purposes.  They are also susceptible to fungal diseases such as blackspot and powdery mildew, and some (certainly not all) are almost devoid of fragrance.  But the blooms are undeniably beautiful in a range of gorgeous colors from white, to cream, yellow, apricot, orange, pink, red, mauve, purple, blends, and bi-colors.  And if well-grown, are highly desirable as cut flowers for arrangements and bouquets.  They are also beautiful grown as standards, or “tree” roses. 

Hybrid Teas need full sun for optimal growth.  They are heavy feeders and benefit from a regular feeding program of a balanced fertilizer applied about every two weeks starting when new growth begins to appear in spring until early fall.  Mulch during the growing season to keep roots cool and help retain moisture and prevent weeds.  The old mulch should be raked out and replaced yearly--fall is a good time to do this when doing garden clean-up--to remove any fallen leaves or debris where fungal spores or insects could hide.  Good sanitation is essential for any type of rose, and goes a long way toward preventing disease.  Water when rainfall has been insufficient, taking care to soak the soil and try to keep the leaves dry to help prevent fungal infections.  Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before the leaves begin to emerge.  Remove dead or diseased wood, crossed canes, weak growth, and reduce the healthy canes to about 18-24” making slanted cuts above an outward-facing bud so new growth will grow outwards.  You are aiming for an open center for good air circulation and a nicely-shaped plant.

There are hundreds of varieties of Hybrid Teas.  Here are just a few.

Rosa 'Apricot Candy,' soft apricot hybrid tea.  Exquisite buds look like sugar icing roses.Rosa 'Apricot Candy,' Meilland, 2006.
Rosa 'Chandos Beauty' is a pink-apricot blend hybrid tea with pale outer petals, deepening in the center.Rosa 'Chandos Beauty,' Harkness, prior to 2005.
Rosa 'Dainty Bess' is a single pink Hybrid Tea with darker pink stamens.Rosa 'Dainty Bess,' Archer, 1925.
Rosa 'Dame de Coeur' is a large bright red Hybrid Tea.Rosa ‘Dame de Coeur,’ Lens, 1958.
Rosa 'Love and Peace'‘Love and Peace®, Lim and Twomey, 1991.
Rosa 'Medallion' is a large apricot blend Hybrid Tea.Rosa ‘Medallion,’ Warriner, 1973.
Rosa 'Moonstone' is a white and pink bi-color Hybrid Tea.Rosa ‘Moonstone,’ Carruth, 1998.
Rosa 'Pinkerbelle' is a cream and pink to lavender bi-color with edges shading darker.Rosa ‘Pinkerbelle,’ Meilland, 2018.
Rosa 'Royal Amethyst' is a beautiful mauve/lavender Hybrid Tea with high-centered budsRosa ‘Royal Amethyst,’ De Vor, 1989.
Rosa 'Sunny Sky' is a bright yellow Hybrid Tea rose.Rosa ‘Sunny Sky,’ Kordes, 1999.
Rosa 'Tiffany' is a lovely rose pink Hybrid Tea suffused with yellow at the base.Rosa ‘Tiffany,’ Lindquist, 1955.
Rosa 'Veteran's Honor' is a deep red Hybrid Tea with high-centered buds.Rosa ‘Veteran’s Honor,’ Zary, 1997.

Floribunda Roses

Floribunda Roses Zones 4-9 : Floribunda roses are characterized by clusters of buds and a long bloom period from summer into fall.  The flowers are smaller than Hybrid Teas, but are full and borne in abundance.  Floribundas are wonderful to include in mixed perennial borders, or massed for color.  There is a wide range of colors from whites to creams, yellows, peaches, corals, pinks, deep reds, maroons and purples.  Some very well-known roses are in this category including 'Amber Queen,' apricot; 'Burgundy Iceberg,' purple; 'Cinco de Mayo,' red-orange; ‘Ebb Tide,’ purple ; ‘Europeana,’ red ; 'Gruss an Aachen,' pale pink; ‘Hot Cocoa,’ reddish-orange ; ‘Iceberg,’ white ; ‘Julia Child,’ yellow ; ‘Passionate Kisses,’ pink ; ‘Scentimental,’ red and white variegated; and 'You're Beautiful,' pink.

Floribunda rose 'Amber Queen' is an apricot blend  with ruffled edge petals.Rosa ‘Amber Queen,’ Harkness, 1983.
Floribunda rose 'Burgundy Iceberg' is deep purple, lighter near the center and reverse.Rosa ‘Burgundy Iceberg,’ 2003.
Floribunda rose 'Cinco de Mayo' is a blend of bright red-orange with lavender shadings.Rosa ‘Cinco de Mayo,’ Carruth, 2006.
Floribunda rose 'Ebb Tide' is a mauve/purple blend.Rosa ‘Ebb Tide,’ Carruth, 2001.
Floribunda rose 'Europeana' is bright red with double blooms in clusters.Rosa ‘Europeana,’ De Ruiter Innovations BV, 1963.
Floribunda rse 'Gruss an Aachen'is a lovely combination of pale pink with darker pink highlights and center warmed with yellow; well-formed buds.Rosa ‘Gruss an Aachen,’ Geduldig, 1909.
Floribunda rose 'Hot Cocoa' is a red-orange blend with touches of lavender, and a center heart of yellow.  Can a rose be brown?  This probably comes the closest.Rosa ‘Hot Cocoa,’ Carruth, 2002.
Floribunda rose 'Iceberg' is pure, icy white--a classic.Rosa ‘Iceberg,’ Kordes, 1958.
Floribunda rose 'Julia Child' is pure sunshine yellow.Rosa ‘Julia Child,’ Carruth, 2004.
Floribunda rose 'Passionate Kisses' is a blend of coral and pink.Rosa ‘Passionate Kisses®,’ Meilland, 1998.
Floribunda rose 'Princess of Wales' is a pure white with ruffled edges.Rosa ‘Princess of Wales,’ Harkness, 1997.
Floribunda rose 'Scentimental' is a red and white bi-color.Rosa ‘Scentimental,’ Carruth, 1997.
Rosa 'You're Beautiful' is well-named--a beautiful clear pink with good form.Rosa ‘You’re Beautiful,’ Fryer, prior to 2007.

Grandiflora Roses

Grandifloras were developed to have the large blooms of hybrid teas with multiple blooms per stem and repeat flowering    Grandifloras include ‘Apricot Nectar,’ apricot; ‘Ascot,’ deep pink/purple; ‘Cherry Parfait™,’ cream w/red edges; 'Dick Clark,' red w/touches of white and yellow;  ‘Dream Come True™,’ yellow edged with rose; ‘Gold Medal,’ yellow flushed pink or orange;  Nacogdoches,' yellow; ‘Prominent,’ red; ‘Queen Elizabeth,’ pink; ‘Silver Star™,’ lavender; ‘White Lightnin’,’ white.

Grandiflora rose 'Dick Clark' is a cherry-red and white bi-color. Petals have broad red edges flushed with white and white reverse. Beautiful high-centered form.Rosa ‘Dick Clark,’ Bedard and Carruth, 2009.
Grandiflora rose 'Dream Come True' is a cream yellow blend with rosy petal edges.Rosa ‘Dream Come True™,’ Pottschmidt, 2006.
Grandiflora rose 'Mother of Pearl' is a soft peachy-pink blend paler at the petal edges.Rosa ‘Mother of Pearl,’ Meilland, 2006.
Grandiflora rose 'Nacogdoches' is a pure yellow "found rose.".Rosa ‘Nacogdoches,’ or ‘Grandma’s Yellow,’ a found rose.
Grandiflora rose 'Queen Elizabeth' is a soft clear medium pink with high centered buds.Rosa ‘Queen Elizabeth,’ Lammerts, 1954.

Polyantha Roses

Polyantha roses are charming with their clusters of blooms.  They make excellent companions for perennials in the border or as a low hedge.  Their small size makes them suitable for smaller gardens.  The flowers are smaller too, and are borne in generous clusters.  Polyanthas include ‘Cecile Brunner’ also called Sweetheart Rose, pink; ‘Clotilde Soupert,’ ‘Excellenz von Schubert,’ pink; ‘Katharina Zeimet,’ white; ‘La Marne,’ pink; ‘Little Butterfly,’ single pale pink; ‘Marie Pavie,’ pale pink to white; ‘Perle d’Or,’ apricot; The Fairy,’ pink; ‘Verdun,’ deep pink; ‘White Pet’ white.

Rosa 'Caldwell Pink' is a polyantha rose in medium pink.‘Caldwell Pink,’ a found rose by Dr. William C. Welch, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Rosa 'Cecile Brunner' also called the Sweetheart Rose, is a thornless polyantha with smallish pale pink flowers, a bit darker in the center, and of good form.‘Cecile Brunner,’ Ducher, 1881, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Polyantha rose 'Excellenz von Schubert' has clusters of dark pink flowers.Rosa ‘Excellenz von Schubert,’ Lambert, 1909.
Polyantha rose 'Little Butterfly' has pale pink single blooms in clusters.Rosa ‘Little Butterfly,’ Rupert, 2000.
Polyantha rose 'Marie Pavie'is near white with a blush of pink, nearly thornless and a lovely fragrance.Rosa ‘Marie Pavié,' Alegatiere, 1888.
Polyantha rose 'Perle d'Or' is an apricot blend with petals that curl back and a delicious fragrance. Almost continually in bloom.Rosa ‘Perle d’Or,’ Dubreuil, 1884, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Polyantha rose 'The Fairy' has clear pink double flowers borne profusely in clusters' slight fragrance.Rosa ‘The Fairy,’ Bentall, 1932, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Polyantha rose 'Verdun'has medium pink double flowers borne in clusters, mild fragrance.Rosa ‘Verdun,’ Barbier Freres & Compagnie, 1918.
Polyantha rose 'White Pet' is a small shrub with double white flowers and charming pink buds. Blooms constantly.  Grows about 2-3.'  Excellent subject for planters, borders, and mass planting.Rosa ‘White Pet,’ Henderson, 1879

Rambler Roses

Not your ordinary climbing rose, ramblers are distinct from climbing roses.  Plant a rambler rose and stand back!  These roses are fantastic for growing over arches and pergolas, for creating a striking hedge trained on posts and wires for a boundary or privacy screen, for covering unsightly buildings or fences, even to grow through trees, for some of them can reach pretty extraordinary lengths--give them lots of room.  Ramblers produce clusters of small flowers in great profusion, and are very vigorous and often very prickly—the prickles help them climb into trees.  The important thing to remember about rambler roses is that they have one glorious period of bloom in summer on old growth, so if they require pruning, they should be pruned right after flowering, only removing growth that bloomed that year.  Ramblers include ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans,’ blush white; ‘American Pillar,’ bright pink; ‘Baltimore Belle,’ pale pink; ‘Bleu Magenta,’ purple; 'Blush Rambler,' pink; ‘Crimson Showers,’ crimson red; ‘Easlea’s Golden Rambler,’ yellow; ‘Super Dorothy,’ pink; ‘Félicité et Perpétue,’ very pale pink near white and nearly evergreen; ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk,’ double pale pink to 30’; 'Paul's Lemon Pillar,' pale lemon yellow; ‘Rambling Rector,’ white; ‘René Andre’, apricot-pink; Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate,’ white; Rosa laevigata ‘Cooperi,’ white; ‘Veilchenblau,’ blue-violet w/white eye.

Rosa 'Blush Rambler' blooms once, but heavily, covered with clusters of small, pink, fragrant blooms.  Grows to 15.'‘Blush Rambler,’ Benjamin R. Cant & Sons, 1903
Rosa 'Easlea's Golden Rambler,' features large double yellow blooms in early summer and can grow to 15.’Rosa 'Easlea's Golden Rambler,' Walter Easlea & Sons, 1932
Polyantha rose 'Félicité et Perpétue' opens pale pink and matures to white; to 12.'Rosa 'Félicité et Perpétue,' Antoine A. Jacques, 1827
Rosa 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' is a huge rambler capable of growing up into trees to 30.'  It has clusters of blush pink double flowers fading to white and is sweetly scented,Rosa 'Paul's Himalayan Musk,' George Paul, Jr., 1916
Rosa 'Paul's Lemon Pillar' Is more of a climber than a rambler.  It only blooms once, but its large, Hybrid Tea-like lemon yellow flowers are born in profusion and are very fragrant.  Can reach about 12.'Rosa 'Paul's Lemon Pillar,' William Paul, 1916
Rosa 'Rambling Rector' is a very vigorous rambling rose that can reach 20.'  It only blooms once, but it smothers itself in clusters of semi-double white flowers that exude a sweet perfume.Rosa 'Rambling Rector,' 1899.

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses, or landscape roses, are a fairly new group of modern roses.  They are eminently useful for many purposes including hedging, massing for drifts of color, in perennial borders or as accents.

David Austin Roses:  The great rose breeder, David Austin (1926-2018), left an outstanding legacy of modern shrub roses.  He thought that most modern roses lacked the grace of old roses, and also the scent, so he sought to create modern roses with the form, grace and perfume of the old roses with repeat flowering and healthy vigor.  His success can be seen in the examples below.  David Austin Roses, or English Roses, as he called them, are cherished all over the world.

David Austin rose 'Abraham Darby'is a large shrub rose of abut 5' x 5', in shades of apricot and yellow  with a strong fragrance.Rosa 'Abraham Darby,' 1985.
David Austin rose 'Anne Boleyn' makes a medium-sized shrub of about 4' x 4', in warm shades of pink.  Very heavily packed with petals.Rosa 'Anne Boleyn,' 1999.
David Austin rose 'Christopher Marlowe' is a good size for smaller gardens--about 2.5-3.'  The blooms are an intense salmon-pink.Rosa 'Christopher Marlowe,' 2002.
Rosa 'Dannahue'Rosa 'Dannahue,' 2023.
Rosa 'Desdemona'Rosa 'Desdemona,' 2015.
David Austin rose 'Emily Brontë' is a medium-sized shrub of about 4.'  The flowers are soft pink fading to cream.Rosa 'Emily Brontë,' 2018.
David Austin rose 'Eustacia Vye' is a medium pink rose with apricot and has a good strong fragrance. Grows to about 4.'Rosa 'Eustacia Vye,' 2019.
David Austin rose 'Gentle Hermione' is a soft pink to blush with a strong fragrance. Grows to about 4.'Rosa 'Gentle Hermione,' 2005.
David Austin rose 'Gertrude Jekyll' has medium pink quartered blooms with a strong fragrance. Form a large shrub of about 5.'  Named for the famous garden designer.Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll,' 1986.
David Austin rose 'Graham Thomas' is a vigorous climber to about 12.' The blooms are a rich glowing golden yellow.  Named for the famous rosarian.Rosa 'Graham Thomas,' 1983.
David Austin rose 'Lady Emma Hamilton' makes a medium-sized shrub of about 4.'  Red-orange buds open to an extraordinary color described as tangerine-orange, with a fruity scent to match, and complemented by dark foliage..Rosa 'Lady Emma Hamilton,' 2005.
Rosa 'Mary Rose'Rosa 'Mary Rose,' 1983.
David Austin rose 'Munstead Wood' is one of the darkest in the line being a rich crimson (darker than the picture shows) with strong fragrance.  It forma a medium shrub of about 3.'Rosa 'Munstead Wood,' 2007.
David Austin rose 'Olivia Rose Austin' is a lovely medium pink lighter around the edges.  An early bloomer, it forms a medium shrub of 4 1/2' x 3 1/2.'Rosa 'Olivia Rose Austin,' 2014.
Rosa 'Princess Anne' has bright pink, full blooms on a shrub growing to about 4.'Rosa 'Princess Anne,' 2010.
David Austin rose 'Queen of Sweden' is a lovely soft pink with blooms tightly packed with petals and a lovely fragrance.  It grows to about 5.'Rosa 'Queen of Sweden,' 2004.
David Austin rose 'The Dark Lady' has deep crimson flowers tightly packed with petals.  It forms a medium shrub of about 4.'Rosa 'The Dark Lady,' 1991.
Rosa 'Wildeve'Rosa 'Wildeve,' 2003.
David Austin rose 'Winchester Cathedral' is one of the few all white Austin roses.  Pure white flowers bloom on a medium shrub of 4.'  A good repeat bloomer.Rosa 'Winchester Cathedral,' 1988.

Drift® Roses, created by Star Roses, which also introduced the famous ‘Knock Out®’ series of shrub roses, is a very useful series to use as a ground cover, for small spaces, in the mixed perennial border, or even for a low hedge as they grow to about 18”.  Available in colors of white, yellow, apricot, coral, pink, rose and red.  Zone 4-11.

Rosa 'Apricot Drift®' is a short, about 2' rose that is great to use for groundcover, a short hedge, or container.  It has lovely apricot double blooms that continue all summer into fall.Rosa 'Apricot Drift®,' Meilland.
Rosa 'Coral Drift®' has coral-colored flowers on a ground cover shrub about 1 1/2' high.Rosa 'Coral Drift®,' Meilland, 2006.
Rosa 'Pink Drift®' has single pink flowers with white centers on a ground cover shrub of 1 1/2' high.Rosa 'Pink Drift®,' Meilland.
Rosa 'Popcorn Drift®' has buttery yellow buds that open to pale yellow blooms on a compact shrub of 1 1/2' high.Rosa 'Popcorn Drift®,' Meilland.
Rosa 'Sweet Drift®' has soft pink blooms on a ground cover shrub of 1 1/2' high.Rosa 'Sweet Drift®,' Meilland.

Knock Out® Roses, Zones 5-9.  Afraid to grow roses?  Here’s one you can hardly fail with bred by American William Radler and introduced by Star Roses, The Knock Out® series of shrub roses will bloom almost non-stop from late spring until frost leading to widespread use by landscapers and homeowners alike.  They are known for their disease resistance, and are available in a multitude of colors including red, pink, blush, coral, yellow, and white.  Zones 4-11.

Rosa 'Double' Knock Out® is a heavy bloomer in double red that will go until frost.Rosa 'Double' Knock Out®
Rosa 'Blushing' Knock Out® produces soft pink single flowers almost non-stop from spring until frost.Rosa 'Blushing' Knock Out®
Rosa 'Sunny' Knock Out® produces single yellow flowers almost non-stop from spring until frost.Rosa 'Sunny' Knock Out®
Rosa 'White' Knock Out® has single white blooms almost continuously from spring until frost.Rosa 'White' Knock Out®

Other great modern shrub roses:

Rosa 'Belinda's Dream' is a shrub rose with beautiful, very full medium pink blooms. Disease resistant, and grows to about 5' x 5.'Rosa 'Belinda's Dream,' Bayse, 1992, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Rosa 'Carefree Beauty' has large, semi-double rich pink blooms that continue from late spring to frost on a 5' x 5' shrub.‘Carefree Beauty™,’ Buck, 1977, an Earth-Kind® selection.
Rosa 'Daydream' has clusters of rich pink single blooms that fade to a lighter pink and repeat all summer.  This shrub rose grows to about 3' high.‘DayDream™,’ Lim, 2004.
Rosa 'F. J. Lindheimer' is a lovely yellow to apricot shrub rose growing from late spring to fall to a height of about 4.'‘F. J. Lindheimer,’ Shoup, 2004.
Rosa Kolorscape® 'Cheri™' produces semi-double deep coral pink blooms on a shrub of about 3-4.'  Very disease resistant.Kolorscape® ‘Cheri™,’ Kordes.
Rosa 'Lady Elsie May' has coral pink semi-double blooms that repeat continuously all season. A disease resistant shrub rose that grows to 3' x 4' h. x 3' x 4' wide.‘Lady Elsie May,’ Noack, 2002.
Shrub rose 'Martha's Vineyard' has semi-double pink blooms in big clusters that continue all summer.  It grows to about 4' x 4.'‘Martha’s Vineyard,’ Olesen, 1995.
Shrub rose 'Quietness' has lovely light pink buds that unfurl to large, full blooms on a plant of about 4' x 4.'.‘Quietness,’ Buck, 2003.
Rosa 'Rhapsody in Blue' makes a mauve to purple semi-double bloom sometimes with white streaks that opens fully to reveal a white center and bright yellow stamens. Repeats from late spring to early fall, 4-5' high.‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ Cowlishaw, 1999.
Shrub rose 'Watercolors Home Run®' has single flowers in large clusters that open golden ceners with pink edges.  The shrub is very disease resistant and grows to about 2-3' high.‘Watercolors Home Run®,’ Carruth, 2016, Weeks Roses.

A Word About Rose Rosette Disease--
It's Not a Pretty Sight

Rose rosette disease

I have noticed a tendency for roses to contract rose rosette disease especially in large mass plantings.  Rose rosette disease is distinctive.  The plant develops distorted growth near the ends of branches in a compact mass like a witch’s broom and the foliage and stems turn red in color.  The disease is a virus spread by mites and will disfigure and weaken the plant making it susceptible to other common rose diseases like black spot and will eventually kill it.  Unfortunately, there is no cure at present and the best thing to do if you suspect rose rosette disease, is to remove and destroy the plant to help prevent its spread.  It is even recommended that you not plant another rose in the same location unless you completely remove and change the soil.  This is a serious threat to roses.  Hybrid teas, floribundas, old roses, shrub roses and others are all susceptible. 

It is good practice to follow precautions when pruning roses such as cleaning pruners between cuts with disinfectant, picking dropped leaves off the ground, raking out and changing the mulch yearly, and not composting clippings, but bagging and discarding or burning them.

Species Roses

Old Garden Roses

The Summer Garden


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