A Rose By Any Other Name …

Part 1: Types of Roses and Selection Criteria

By Janet Scheren, Fairfax Master Gardener Intern
With all due respect to Shakespeare, roses comprise such a diverse group of flowers, they actually go by as many names as the fragrances, forms and colors they add to our gardens.

Native wild rose

Species or Wild Roses
These simple, hardy, disease resistant roses, developed in nature, can add substantial environmental value to your yard. They host more than 100 native butterfly species and have special value for native bees. In Virginia and much of the East Coast, Virginia Rose or Prairie Rose (Rosa virginiana) can be found from the dry uplands to the wetlands and sand dunes. Two other wild natives are the Swamp Rose (R. palustris) and Pasture Rose . All three have pink blossoms.

Do not confuse these beautiful native plants with the Multiflora Rose — R. multiflora — a native of Eastern Asia. This non-native, highly invasive rose is a small-leaved shrub with sprays of 1-inch white single roses in June. Multiflora roses should be removed from within 300 feet of garden roses as they are the main host of the rose rosette disease, which can kill garden roses.

Old Garden Rose

Old Garden Roses
Gallica roses date back to Greek and Roman times. Together with Damask, Centifolia, Moss, Portland and Alba roses, Gallica roses form the oldest group of cultivated roses. Many of them have outstanding fragrances but bloom only once a year. The Damask rose is said to have been brought to Europe from the Middle East by the Crusaders. Together with the Centifolia rose, these two highly fragrant roses are commonly used in making perfume today.

A second subclass of old garden roses developed around 1792 with the introduction of the China Rose to Europe. There it was bred with other classes to achieve a repeat blooming rose that has changed the world of roses. This group also includes the Bourbon, Hybrid Perpetual, Noisette and Tea roses. Many old garden roses have found favor in today’s gardens. As a result, many are available at local garden centers, and others can be or