University of Illinois Extension


Barbara Larson
Unit Educator, Horticulture
Boone and Winnebago Counties

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June Means Roses

June is the month for roses. Many people shy away from growing this aristocrat of flowers because of their reputation as a high maintenance plant. With the introduction of hardy disease resistant roses and the availability of "old-fashioned" roses, there is a rose suitable for most gardens and gardeners. This plethora of roses may confuse even the veteran gardener.

Generally roses are grouped according to class but many crosses do occur. Familiarity with the characteristics of each class will help the gardener chose the right rose for their garden.

Hybrid teas (also called ever-blooming roses) repeat bloom throughout the summer. They have been the most popular garden roses for the last 30 to 40 years. Depending on the cultivar, hybrid teas will grow 2 to 6 feet tall. Flowers may be singles with one row of petals or doubles with multiple rows of petals. Flower buds tend to be long and pointed with one to five flowers per stem. Hybrid teas have varying degrees of fragrance. Cold hardiness depends on the cultivar, growing location, and soil conditions. The desirable cultivar is often grafted onto the roots of a different rose. Severe winter dieback often results in the loss of the grafted top and a different rose will appear the following year from the root system that survived.

Floribunda roses bear their flowers in clusters with individual blooms similar to hybrid teas. Floribundas are gaining popularity as "landscape roses." They are generally smaller in size than hybrid teas. Like the tea roses, floribundas are often grafted and rebloom throughout the growing season.

Grandiflora roses have characteristics of floribundas and hybrid teas. They are similar to hybrid teas in hardiness, flower type, and stature but individual flowers are slightly smaller and borne in groups like floribundas. Grandifloras are usually grafted and are reliable rebloomers.

Miniature roses are small in stature, flower, and leaf. Plant heights range from 6 to 24 inches. The clusters of 1 to 2 inch diameter flowers repeat bloom all summer. Miniatures are wonderful for small landscapes or as an edging plant. They incorporate easily into perennial beds or the front of a shrub border. Miniatures are grown on their own roots and are very winter hardy. They reliably come back year after year.

Polyantha rose flowers are smaller than grandifloras and borne in very large clusters. They are hardier than hybrid teas. Repeat bloom depends on the cultivar, but many cultivars blossom sporadically during the summer after their peak bloom in June. Polyanthas work well in shrub borders. Their informal habit combines well with perennials.

Hybrid perpetual roses have large flowers but are not as tidy and refined as hybrid teas. Many of these roses do not rebloom. The large vigorous bushes are generally very cold hardy.

Old fashioned, heritage, and antique roses are grouped together. They were grown in gardens sometime in the past and do not really fit in one of the other rose classes. The blossoms of these roses tend to be full, but flat in appearance. They are often very fragrant. Because they have been cultivated for years, they are often more cold hardy and resistant to diseases and insects. Sadly, most bloom only once in early summer.

Tree or standard roses are distinctive in form rather than flower. Horticulturists create them by grafting a hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, or miniature onto an upright rose cane. Many popular cultivars of roses are available in tree form. Tree roses are used in formal gardens or as accent plants. They require special winter protection to survive.

Shrub roses are another "catch all" grouping that includes wild species, hybrids, cultivars, and other large densely growing roses. Most are very hardy. The flowers are usually smaller and may be singles or doubles. Many shrub roses have large attractive fruits or hips in fall. The foliage and overall aspect of the plants are pleasing. They are used in shrub borders or as informal hedges.

Climbing roses include all cultivars that produce long canes requiring support. Climbing varieties are developed from hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, or others that produce extra long canes. The new cultivar is often given the same name as the parent but the term climbing is added. Climbers are trained on fences, arbors, or trellises. Some varieties are useful as ground covers.

Rambler roses are fast growers, developing canes up to 20 feet long. Clusters of small flowers develop on canes produced the preceding year. Most cultivars bloom once in June. Ramblers are very hardy but prone to powdery mildew disease. Newer cultivars are mildew resistant and repeat bloomers.

In addition to class or type of rose, gardeners should keep in mind disease resistance and cold hardiness. With the exception of heavy shade, there is a rose for almost any garden. Gardeners who have never grown roses or have been frustrated with finicky hybrid teas, should give roses a chance.

June - July 2002:

Prevent Mustard from Setting Seeds
Plant a Buddleia for a Great Display
| June Means Roses
The Other 'Bulbs'

Past Issues

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