Start Here: Introduction To Roses

Welcome to the world of roses. These “Queen of the Flowers” pack the sentimental feelings, exquisite beauty, and lofty scent into one sweet bloom. They can become an obsession. We should know.

But before you jump headfirst into creating your own rose garden, it’s a good idea to learn a bit about the plant first. How much you want to learn is up to you! We’re just here to guide you through the planning and care of your Heirloom Roses.

What do roses need?

Roses are very forgiving and hardy plants, perfect for any new gardener and cherished by master gardeners alike. Roses have just a few simple needs:


  • Full sun, at least 6 hrs/day for most
  • Average garden soil
  • Annual rainfall, supplemented in summer with about 1 in/water per week
  • Good drainage
  • Fertilizer during the growing season


That’s it. If you have sun, space, and a watering hose can do this!

Getting Scientific

Roses are a diverse species of plant that grow in all corners of the world - in forests, along coastlines, and even high mountain elevations. This durable shrub belongs to the genus Rosa and can be divided into three main categories:

  • Species roses
  • Garden roses or Heirloom roses
  • Modern roses


Within these three categories, there are at least 20 different classifications that group roses according to similar characteristics such as cold hardiness, disease resistance, growth habit, color selection, and size. If you know all the details about a particular rose, it will make it much easier to choose the perfect rose for your specific garden. At Heirloom Roses, we can help you find this custom-tailored rose suited just for your space, needs, and climate.

Species roses (Rosa moschata) are the way nature made them - wild and free. They form thickets and produce wonderfully colored rose hips in the fall. They typically have single flowers with 5 petals and bloom once.

Old Garden roses or Heirloom roses predate 1867 and are tough, durable shrubs that are more fragrant than Modern roses. Most are once-blooming, grow quite large, and tolerate a hard pruning every few years. They are divided up into different classes including: Alba, Centifolias, Damask, Gallicas, Tea, and Moss roses. Learn more about Heirloom roses here.

Modern roses are almost always repeat bloomers and come in every color except blue. They have large, beautiful flowers but sometimes lack the strong fragrance of an Old Garden rose. Modern growers are breeding new varieties with Old Garden roses to reintroduce fragrance and disease resistance. Modern roses include:

  • large, flowered Climbers (up to 8-15 ft high)
  • Climbing sports (taller varieties of shrubs)
  • Hybrid Teas (single stemmed upright canes, 3-6 ft tall)
  • Floribundas (large clusters on a compact plant; good for containers)
  • Grandifloras (large stems of single or clusters, hardy, up to 7 ft tall)
  • Shrubs (hardy, easy care plant that doesn’t fit into another category)
  • Miniatures (range from 3 in to 2 ft; flowers, stems and leaves are all petite)


Which one is right for you?

Once you have determined where you will put your rose in the garden and made sure you have well-draining soil, it’s time to choose your rose. The best place to start is to ask “what matters most” to you? Make your list. Is it scent, a repeat bloomer, height, color, clustered blooms, or disease-resistance? Then use our Shopping Options toolbar to narrow down your choices and read reviews. Our head gardener has thoroughly vetted each and every rose we carry, and we grow them in our own gardens at home. So we can say confidently that you really can’t make a wrong choice.

You can do this and we are here to help. Happy gardening!