Cheat Sheet

Roses For Dummies

Picking the perfect rose for your garden involves finding a hardy plant for your growing zone (based on climate), deciding on a type of rose, and following a plan for rose care. Know your rose terminology and the most popular roses, and you'll sound like a gardening guru.

Know Your Rose Lingo

To grow roses successfully, you need to know the lingo. These rose terms describe parts of the rose plant, petal forms, color types, and more! Get to know these terms and start sounding like a master gardener:

  • Bareroot: Sold in winter to early spring while dormant and without soil on their roots.

  • Bicolor: A two-colored rose, usually with two or more colors on opposites sides of the petals.

  • Blend: A multicolored rose with two or more colors blending together on both sides of the petals.

  • Bud: An unopened flower. A bud eye is dormant vegetative growth that forms in the upper angle where a leaf joins a cane.

  • Bud union: A swollen or knobby area on the lower trunk of a rose plant, usually near the soil surface, where the flowering variety joins the rootstock.

  • Cane: A structural branch of a rose plant, usually arising from the base of the plant.

  • Deadhead: To remove spent blossoms from a bush and channel more energy into new flowers.

  • Double flower: A rose with more than one row of petals.

  • Hardiness: The capability of a rose to withstand cold temperatures without being killed or injured.

  • Hip: The seed pod that forms after a rose’s petals fall off. Some may turn bright orange or red and are quite colorful in fall and winter.

  • Leaflet: A part of a leaf. Rose leaves are usually divided into 5 to 7 leaflets, but some have as many as 19 or as few as 3.

  • Own-root roses: Roses that grow on their own roots and are not budded onto a separate rootstock.

  • Reverse: The underside of a rose petal.

  • Rootstock: The roots onto which a rose variety is budded. A rootstock increases the adaptability of the rose, giving it increased hardiness, vigor, soil tolerance, and other advantages.

  • Semi-double: A rose having two or three rows of petals.

  • Single: A rose having a single row of petals.

  • Sucker: A vigorous cane that arises from the rootstock of a rose. Its leaves look different from the rest of the plant, and you should remove it.

  • Variety: A specific type of rose. For example, 'Mister Lincoln' is a variety of hybrid tea with fragrant red flowers.

Ten Popular Roses

Looking for popular rose varieties? For the past several years, these ten roses have been popular among home gardeners:

  • 'Ballerina': Pink and white shrub

  • 'Blaze': Red climber

  • 'Bonica': Pink shrub

  • 'Chrysler Imperial': Red hybrid tea

  • 'Double Delight': Red and white hybrid tea

  • 'Iceberg': White floribunda

  • 'Mister Lincoln': Red hybrid tea

  • 'Olympiad': Red hybrid tea

  • 'Queen Elizabeth': Pink grandiflora

  • 'Scentimental': Red and white floribunda

USDA Hardiness Zones for Plants

If you live in a cold-winter area, choose roses that can survive with minimum damage. This plant hardiness zone chart (based on average annual minimum temperatures) is from the USDA; it helps you figure how cold it gets in your area. Choose roses suitable for your climate zone.

Temperature in ° C USDA Zone Temperature in ° F
–45.6 and below 1 Below –50
–42.8 and below 2a –45 to –50
–40 to –42.7 2b –40 to –45
–37.3 to –39.9 3a –35 to –40
–34.5 to –37.2 3b –30 to –35
–31.7 to –34.4 4a –25 to –30
–28.9 to –31.6 4b –20 to –25
–26.2 to –28.8 5a –15 to –20
–23.4 to –26.1 5b –10 to –15
–20.6 to –23.3 6a –5 to –10
–17.8 to –20.5 6b 0 to –5
–15 to –17.7 7a 5 to 0
–12.3 to –14.9 7b 10 to 5
–9.5 to –12.2 8a 15 to 10
–6.7 to –9.4 8b 20 to 15
–3.9 to –6.6 9a 25 to 20
–1.2 to –3.8 9b 30 to 25
1.6 to –1.1 10a 35 to 30
4.4 to 1.7 10b 40 to 35
4.5 and above 11 40 and above

Foolproof Tips for Growing Roses

Planting your roses is just the beginning of care. Follow these basic rose-growing guidelines to help keep your plants growing vigorously and producing fabulous blooms:

  • Roses are tough; you don't need to baby them.

  • After they're established, water deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain.

  • Fertilize every four to six weeks.

  • Whack 'em back in late winter or early spring.

  • If a rose isn't growing as well as you'd like, yank it out and replace it with something better.

  • Ask questions. Find a rose society meeting near you and join up; they can help. And don't forget your local nursery or Master Gardener association.

Types of Roses

Picking a rose plant is a matter of personal preference. Do you want fragrance, a climber, lots of blooms, a certain bloom size, or a compact plant? Here are the types of roses and their basic differences so you choose the type that fits your gardening plan:

  • Climbers: Vigorous, sprawling rose plants that need the support of an arbor, fence, or trellis to stay upright.

  • Floribundas: Free-blooming shrubs that produce tons of flowers, usually borne in large clusters. One of the best types of roses for landscaping.

  • Grandifloras: Vigorous bushes producing large, beautifully formed flowers that are more likely to be borne in clusters than one to a stem. 'Queen Elizabeth' is a classic grandiflora.

  • Hybrid teas: The most popular type of rosebush, with beautiful long-stemmed flowers that are ideal for cutting.

  • Miniatures: Small in leaf and stature but big in amount of bloom. Grow only 4 to 36 inches high but make great landscape plants, especially as edgings and in containers.

  • Old garden and species roses (Antique roses): A huge group of roses varying in plant habit and flower type. A larger number bloom only once a year. Many have extremely fragrant and/or uniquely formed flowers.

  • Polyanthas: Small, compact shrubs producing large clusters of flowers. Good landscape plants.

  • Shrubs: A diverse group of quite varied plants, includes many new excellent landscape varieties known for their easy care and abundant bloom. Also includes some of the hardiest roses.

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