Roses are a favorite among many gardeners. Their visually appealing and often fragrant blooms are a delight in the landscape as well as in pots, vases and bouquets. But if you’ve ever visited Rainbow Gardens in the springtime and have seen the massive selection we provide, choosing the perfect roses could prove to be a little daunting. Today’s blog is about some of the different categories of roses you can expect to find at Rainbow Gardens, plus descriptions of each to hopefully make your selection process a little easier.

Types of Roses at Rainbow Gardens

White Foribunda Roses

Floribunda Roses: Originally developed by crossing Hybrid Tea roses with polyantha roses, Floribundas are celebrated for their practically continuous production of color in the landscape. These offer large clusters of flowers, looking similar to Hybrid Teas, that bloom spring, summer and fall. The multiple flower clusters at the end of the stems is like having ready-made bouquets. Floribundas grow up to 5’- 6 tall generally’, but sizes do vary and you may come across smaller ones. Fragrant and unfragrant options available. These roses usually need more maintenance with extra pruning, spraying, fertilizing, etc… This doesn’t mean you have to shy away from them, it just means you need to budget some extra time for their care.

Grandiflora Roses: One of the larger sized rose bushes, Grandiflora are a combo of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. They grow their blooms in clusters, similar to Floribundas, but are on longer stems. Because of their average size, up to 7 feet by 3 feet wide, these are great choices for hedges, or as specimens in the back of a flower garden. Grandifloras are vigorous growers and many have delightful fragrances. You can usually find these showy blooms in hues of yellow, red, pink, purple, white, and orange. Grandifloras will also need a little extra maintenance and time. 

Hybrid Tea Roses: The sheer amount of color selections and combinations are what make Hybrid Teas frequently sought after. Yes, you can find solid white, yellow, red, purple, orange, pink, etc…, but you can also find some stunning color combos that will knock your socks off. (One of my all time faves is “Ketchup and Mustard”, a vibrant mix of a deep yellow hue, starkly outlined in dark red.) Hybrid Teas produce single blooms on each stem. They make great choices to plant along the front of fences or houses, or added into your formal rose gardens. Hybrid Teas are repeat bloomers spring through fall. Our informational rose signs at Rainbow Gardens will advise you whether or not the Hybrid Tea you are interested in carries  fragrance or not. Hybrid Teas fall in the somewhat higher maintenance category as well. 

Miniature Roses: The name of these tiny but mighty rose bushes has to do more with the size of the bloom rather than the size of the shrub, although most are pretty small in stature (around 18” – 24” at maturity, though some get bigger). Flowers produced on Miniatures are only 1”- 2” in diameter. These are some of the best roses to choose for containers, but they also look stunning when planted in mass in the landscape. Colors available are vast. Just because you may see them inside at big box stores, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are houseplants! Even though these are a bit more shade tolerant than other roses, they still need at least 6 hours of full sun. No cheating! Miniatures generally do not need heavy pruning; light shaping is usually all that is required.

Climbing Rose on a wall

Climbing Roses: These roses do just what their name states they do, they climb! You’ll need to offer them some type of support and train climbing roses on a trellis or arbor to let them perform to their max. Climbers can reach lengths/heights of anywhere from 6’-12’ and widths of around 3’- 4’. Many colors are available throughout the range of pastels and brights. Some of the other varieties of roses (Floribunda, Grandiflora, Hybrid Tea, etc..) also have climbing forms in their repertoire, but there are also natural climbing roses that only come in that form (ex: Lady Banks).
Most climbers bloom on the previous year’s wood, so you usually prune these right after their flowering period in spring. Level of maintenance is generally the same as the three rose categories above.

Heirloom Roses: Roses in this category are grown from tried and true rose stock of years’ past. (Think Grandma’s Yellow Rose or Belinda’s Dream) They are generally known to have superior qualities when it comes to hardiness, disease resistance, fragrance, and more. This means lower maintenance, hooray! The thing is that sometimes they are hard to find, and yet rose enthusiasts enjoy the hunt! If you are in the market for these, get to the nursery early in the season to have a selection to choose from. 

Drift® Roses: Drift® Roses are repeat bloomers that are a cross between groundcover roses and miniatures. Their mature size is super manageable and they have a good reputation for disease resistance and hardiness throughout the winter. Drift® Roses are a good option for a gorgeous way to control soil erosion on a sloping area of your landscape. These also look wonderful cascading out of containers as they only grow about 1 ½ feet tall x  2 ½ feet wide. Look for hues of peach, apricot, lemon-yellow, red, pink, white, and even popcorn blooms that will greet you spring to frost. It is advised to cut these back to about 6”-7” once a year (we use Valentine’s Day as a good rule of thumb). See this link for some extra care info.

Knock Out® Roses: Knock Out® roses have been a favorite selection of San Antonio gardeners, as well as new rose growers, for some time now. As a matter of fact, when someone is adamant about adding a rose to their landscape, but doesn’t know much about them, the Knock Out® is what we suggest. These are the most low-maintenance roses out there. Did you see those gorgeous red or pink shrubs going crazy this past spring and summer after our big freeze? Those were Knock Outs® and I can’t tell you how many calls we got about them this past year. They currently come in the colors: cherry-red, bright-pink, rainbow (coral with yellow center), sunny (pale yellow to cream), and coral. Certain Knock Outs® come in single petaled or double petaled versions.

Knock Outs® are extremely low maintenance compared to other types of roses. They are self-cleaning, so there is no need to deadhead if you choose not to. They have a very high disease and pest resistance, and it’s hard to do too much damage to them even if you are pretty zealous in your pruning. Roses generally reach average mature heights of about 4’ tall x 4’ wide. The recommendation to cut Knock Out® Roses back once a year to about 12” will help ensure they don’t grow scraggly and overgrow their healthiest stature. Don’t worry, they will triple in size after pruning them by the end of the season. In recent years the Petite Knock Out® Rose has been made available. It only reaches heights of 18” and has blooms that are adorably smaller. Squeal!

Knock Out® roses in the landscape.

You are sure to see more specialty roses like Earthkind® Roses, or David Austin roses as well, but hopefully this blog has given you a little idea of the general categories you will find at Rainbow Gardens. If you are thinking of adding these delightful plants to your landscape, Rainbow Gardens roses are usually potted up in early January and ready for sale shortly after that. You can always look to the San Antonio Rose Society for expert advice when it comes to growing roses (we have them at our nursery often). Follow our step by step instructions when planting roses from our store to ensure optimal success.

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy