A rose is a rose is a rose … or is it? There are so many types of roses offering so many colors, bloom sizes, bloom types, fragrances, plant sizes and shapes, that it isn't really just a matter of a rose is a rose. Roses have been the unrivaled Queen of the Flowers all around the world for thousands of years. History marks 1867 as the development of the first hybrid tea rose and roses haven't been the same since. Until recently, tender roses represented 90% of the roses sold in the United States today. While they are still very popular, the trend is quickly shifting towards hardy or shrub roses. During this 140 years, thousands of varieties have been developed.
What is the confusion about tender, hybrid or modern roses? The terms tender (not winter hardy without special protection) and hardy are probably the most accurate and least confusing terms to use for roses. The terms modern rose and hybrid rose are often used in the plant world, but they aren't very helpful since there are some hybrid shrub roses and many hardy shrub roses are recent developments.
Are there different kinds of tender roses? Hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas and polyanthas are all distinctively different types of tender roses. A few shrub roses are tender also.
Exactly what is a grafted rose? Most, but not all, hybrid roses are grafted. To get a hardier, stronger rose bush, these fantastic roses are grafted onto a different root system. The root system, referred to as understock, is a rose too, but shouldn't be allowed to grow foliage or flowers; it is there for its vigor, not its beauty!
What are the characteristics of hybrid tea roses? Hybrid teas bear long, narrow buds on single, straight stems. Their flowers are usually double (lots of petals) and some of them are very fragrant. The bush has an upright habit and ranges from 2-5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.
What is a polyantha rose? These are lower growing than hybrid teas and are great for mass planting. Polyantha roses produce lots of smaller flowers in clusters all season long. The flowers can be single, semidouble or double. The bush is usually 2 feet tall and they are hardier than hybrid teas.
How is a floribunda different from a grandiflora? Floribundas resulted from crossing hybrid teas with polyanthas. The result is a rose with lots of medium flowers borne in clusters on fairly long stems. Many varieties are fragrant and the shrubs grow around 3 feet by 3 feet. Grandifloras are a relatively recent development that is a combination of hybrid teas and floribundas. The resulting rose has the beautiful flower form of the hybrid tea with the abundance of bloom and hardiness of the floribundas. Grandiflora blooms (usually double and fragrant) are larger than floribundas and can be either single or in clusters. The plant has an upright, full habit, growing from 3-6 feet and 3-4 feet wide.
Are tree roses a certain type of rose? Tree roses are more a form than a separate class. They are sometimes called standard roses and can be hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras or miniatures. The top (blooming part) of the rose is grafted onto a sturdy stalk of an understock rose.
Are there different types of climbing roses? All climbing roses are either the large-flowered type or ramblers. Large-flowered types have thick, strong canes and ramblers have thin, flexible canes. Large-flower types won't actually climb, but can be tied to a trellis or building. While ramblers don't actually climb either, if they have something to lean on they will scramble up and over.
There are so many choices! Where do I start? Unless you have restrictions for the height of the rose, you can simply make your selections based on color and fragrance. If you want long stemmed roses for cutting, look at the hybrid teas and grandifloras.
How do I choose a good rose plant? Look for good balance and strong canes. Check the tag to see if it is a current or past award winner. To insure top quality, Bachman's sells all roses actively growing in containers (bare root roses often loose quality before planting).
Why do the experts seem to disagree on how deep to plant the graft? In the past, the understock available was prone to sending up shoots. With the graft below grade, it was difficult to determine what was understock and needed to be cut out. New understocks are less prone to suckering. This results in judgment calls by all the experts as to how deep to locate the graft. Many feel it isn't as much of a problem anymore and the hardiness gained by planting the graft an inch or two below grade outweighs the risk of having understock suckers cause problems. Either way is acceptable, especially since we have to protect them for winter anyway.
What will I need to do to winterize my roses? There are several wintering methods for modern hybrid roses in our climate. The most effective is the Minnesota tip method. An alternative is mounding and mulching. For detailed information, pick up a copy of Bachman's information sheet .
Do I need to do anything to my roses to get them ready for winterizing? Make sure they go into the winter healthy and well watered. Many rose growers spray the canes with a fungicide before tipping or mounding to help prevent disease. If you have not had disease problems, you may choose not to spray. Prune the roses according to the wintering method you are using.
When should I do the mounding or tipping? After we have had a hard, killing frost. This may be very late September but might not be until late October. Winterizing roses too early encourages disease problems.
When should I cover them? The final covering with mulch should wait until the ground is beginning to freeze. The mulch is to keep the ground cold and prevent the alternate freezing and thawing that damages plants. Put on too early, you keep the ground warm.
Why shouldn't I just use a rose cone? Rose cones can cause problems when we get a sunny day, especially in the early spring. Temperatures inside rose cones of well above 100º have been recorded on a spring day when it was near 32º outside. This can cause tremendous damage to the canes.
How early should I uncover my roses in the spring? As soon as the frost is out of the ground, you can start taking off the mulch. Wait until late April or early May to stand them back up or remove the mounded soil.
Additional Bachman's Information
Hardy Shrub Roses
Minnesota Tip Method for Roses
Winterizing Roses in Minnesota
Insects and Diseases of Roses
Bachman's-Grown Hybrid Roses
Soil Amendments and Mulches
Garden Tools and Trellises
Quality Rose Care Products