To make rose selection easier, the American Rose Society, along with the World Federation of Roses has recently adopted a new system of rose classification. The three main groups of roses are Species Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Modern Roses.
Species roses are wild roses and are as diverse in growth characteristics as the rose varieties in both other classes are. Species roses varieties range from canes that spread along the ground to climbers that reach gigantic heights. Although a few varieties flower in sun-bright yellows, most species roses flower in colors that range from purest white through pink to deep, mysterious reds. Species rose varieties are frequently distinguished by their single blossoms and once-a-season bloom times.
You may also hear Old Garden Roses referred to as Antique Roses. Old Garden Roses include all roses that were cultivated before the introduction of the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. Most Old Garden Roses are descendants of either European Roses or Chinese Roses. European Roses include gallicas, damasks, albas, centifolias, and moss roses. Most bloom once, in early spring and are popular for their fragrance, winter hardiness, and resistance to disease. Flower bloom in shades of white, pink, red and purple.
Chinese Roses are Old Garden Rose varieties that bloom more than once a season and include warm colors of yellow and scarlet. Unlike European Roses, Chinese Roses fare better in warmer climates than cold. Chinese Rose varieties include Chinas, Bourbons, Perpetuals, Noisettes and Teas.
Introduced in 1867, the Hybrid Tea Rose is the one most of us picture when we think of roses and is the benchmark for roses classified as Modern Roses. Although some varieties no longer bear fragrance, recognizing that the perfume is an essential part of the rose, more and more rose breeders are introducing new fragrant cultivars each year.
Modern roses are noted for their ability to bloom throughout the growing season as well as for their breath-taking colors and distinctive shapes. Along with the hybrid tea rose, floribunda and grandiflora varieties are popular choices for garden roses. Modern roses also include polyanthus, modern climbing roses, miniature roses, hybrid musk roses, and modern shrub roses.