The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

It's a Good Thing Roses Are Easier to Enjoy Than They Are to Categorize

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

As I discussed last week roses are commonly divided into three main groups–bush roses which includes miniatures and hybrid teas, shrub roses and climbing roses. Each of these groups can be further divided into many classes. This week I will discuss climbing roses and shrub roses with the help of Greg Stack, U of I Extension educator in the Countryside Center.

Shrub roses are actually a large group of roses that include wild species,hybrids and cultivars and a number of other rose groups. Shrub roses are large dense plants that can be useful in the landscape for hedges, ground covers and screens. They can grow from 3 to 10 feet tall. (Bush roses are generally from 2-6 feet tall.) Shrub roses are a mixed bag of plants. However, they all tend to be hardy and can tolerate neglect and poor growing conditions.

Shrub rose flowers range from singles to doubles to clusters. Many cultivars (cultivated varieties) bear attractive seed pods or hips in the fall. The leaves of many are also very attractive and can add to the overall value of the plant in the landscape.

The common subclasses of shrub roses include hybrid rugosa, hybrid musk and shrub (those that don't seem to fit anywhere else). Hybrid rugosa are known for their winter hardiness, disease resistance and easy care. Rugosas survive well along road ways that receive salt spray during the winter. They also develop a formidable barrier with their spine-covered stems. Some nice rugosas include 'Agnes,' 'Albo-Plena,' 'Belle Poitevine,' 'Blanc Double de Coubert,' 'Charles Albanel,' 'David Thompson,' 'Delicata,' 'Frau Dagmar Hartopp' and 'Topaz Jewel.' Hybrid musks have large clusters of flowers and are known for their heavy fragrance. Most musks have single flowers and are generally winter hardy and disease-resistant. A nice hybrid musk is 'Ballerina' with its clusters of single pink flowers.

The catchall shrub subcategory includes a variety of plants, but most are large, disease-resistant and winter hardy. Generally the new hardy 'Canadian Explorer' and the 'Parkland' series of roses bred in Canada are considered shrub roses. Nice shrub roses include 'Assiniboine,' 'Constance Spry,' 'Adelaide Hoodless,' 'Jens Munk,' 'Morden Blush' and 'Morden Centennial.' 'William Baffin' looks nice used as a climber.

The next main rose group are climbing roses. Climbing roses include all those cultivars that produce long canes and require tying to some sort of support. Climbing roses include ramblers, large flowering climbing, climbing hybrid teas, everblooming climbing roses, climbing polyanthus and floribunda roses and trailing roses. They are often trained on fences or arbors. Some are also used as ground covers. Like bush roses climbing roses are grouped into several types. Types frequently overlap and some are classified under several categories.

Rambler roses are rapid growers and sometimes develop canes as long as 20 feet or more. The small flowers are borne in dense clusters. Ramblers usually flower only once a season and only on canes that were produced the preceding year. Translation is: don't cut these back until right after bloom. The leaves are glossy and plants are generally very hardy. Many are susceptible to the leaf disease powdery mildew. Newer cultivars are being introduced that offer improved flowering and disease resistance. 'Pink Pillar' is a nice rambler.

Large flowered climbers are probably some of the most popular climbers such as 'Blaze,' 'Don Juan' (nice for an 8-10 foot pillar) and 'Handel.'

For more information on roses, contact your University of Illinois Extension Office. The Champaign county phone number is 217-333-7672.

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