The rose is one of the most popular ﬂowering plants in the
world. Its beauty, fragrance, and diversity provide value be-
yond our physical needs. That is why gardeners give promi-
nent space to roses in their gardens and spend time, labor, and
money to have roses in their lives. And gardeners challenge
themselves not only to grow roses but to grow them better
than their neighbors. We humans are very interesting crea-
Rose species are native to the northern hemisphere, from
rose domestication are unclear, but it is likely that centers of
cultivation began in early Chinese, Persian, Greek, and
Roman cultures. Travel and trade among regions surely in-
cluded the barter of valuable roses. The establishment of rose
gardens led to natural and experimental crosses between the
roses of the east and the west. Garden roses were diversiﬁed
well before they came to North America. These roses followed
human migration westward, and some of their progeny now
live alongside native species and on old homestead sites and
In other words, trading and business have always been
at the heart of garden rose development. The wealthy sent out
plant explorers to search for exotic plants for beauty and com-
merce. Breeders and growers of roses produced plants that
met aristocrats’ and tycoons’ plant needs and obsessions.
Today, breeders continue to deﬁne rose perfection. Often
they promote one characteristic to the detriment of others.
Many cultivars that are front page headlines today will dis-
appear within a year or two of dismal performance. But good
roses endure and thrive. That is why old garden roses do so
well: they are the survivors. The same will happen with mod-
ern roses. Gardeners will continue to select roses that grow
well and make people happy.
Considering adding roses to your garden? Here are some tips for success:
1. Choose a planting location. Roses should receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Be sure the soil is fertile
2. Select cultivars or species that thrive in the climate and soil conditions you have and that can resist pests and diseases
that are common to your site conditions.
3. Decide how much time and effort you are willing to invest in controlling disease before making your rose choices. Select
cultivars and species based on your time and effort commitment.
4. Decide if you are comfortable using chemicals or prefer to use an organic approach to growing roses before choosing
which roses to grow. Select cultivars and species based on your maintenance direction.
5. Buy vigorous, healthy plants from a reliable source. Cultivate plants using proper pruning, mulching, watering, and
Getting to Know Your Roses
Roses are grouped into classes to make sense of the great diversity of known cultivars. Groupings are subjective and major
rose societies sometimes group cultivars differently. The following list describes some commonly accepted groupings. Not all
classes of roses grow well in the Southeast. Those classes will be noted in their description where they are listed.
Species and Old Garden Rose Classes: Prior to 1867
are the basis on which the garden rose is developed. Knowing where these species come from helps us to un-
derstand where genetic tolerance to heat and cold come from, as well as various plant characteristics. They fall into four basic ge-
ographic groups. Not all rose species are listed, just those often genetically important to commercial or garden rose development.
R. foetida (R. foetida and its forms are important
breeding roses for yellow ﬂower color and thought to
carry genetic susceptibility to blackspot.)
R. x damascena (R. x damascena and its forms are an
important source of attar of roses.)
R. x centifolia
R. canina (Dog Rose)
R. eglanteria (Sweetbriar Rose)
R. villosa (Apple Rose)
R. pimpinellifolia (Scotch Rose)
R. arvensis (Field Rose)
American species did not directly contribute to the develop-
ment of old garden rose classes. However, R. virginiana, R. car-
own right. Other species exist but are found outside the
Climbing species roses are distinct and have their own groups
of hybrids. Banksian roses are a small group originating from
China. They were introduced into the Southeast in the early
19th century. ‘Lady Banks Rose’ (R. banksiae lutea) is the most
widely seen rose of this group in Mississippi. Banksian roses
are very large climbers that are semi-evergreen and thornless.
(‘rose of provins’)
are an ancient
group of roses derived from R. gallica, native to central and
southern Europe. They are thought to have been grown by
ancient Greeks and Romans and possibly earlier. The shrub
is upright in growth habit, about 3 to 4 feet tall, freely sucker-
ing with many small, bristly thorns. Flowers are pink, 2 to 3
inches in diameter, highly fragrant and followed by round,
red hips. Foliage is rough, dark green and oval.