Garden Arch News & Advice ... since 2010

Rose Basics

Rose Basics

For most gardeners and indeed their visitors, the highlight of the summer garden is undoubtedly the rose. There are many different varieties and classifications with a wonderful array of scent, colours and indeed names.

Fossilized rose flowers have been found in Europe that are reckoned to be 35 million years old and petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs. The Greek poet wrote in 9 BC about Achilles carrying a shield decorated with roses and the ancient Greeks and Romans used to grow pink and red varieties to make perfume.

Hybrid Tea Roses

With their traditional "chocolate box" appearance, they have large flowers that bloom continually throughout their growing season. The bush can grow quite tall and upright and be rather twiggy, but this variety is good for cutting. Hybrid tea roses do best if they are pruned almost to the ground in spring.

Shrub Roses

Generally quite large plants, most modern ones such as the English rose varieties bloom quite abundantly throughout the season. Ideal if you want to fill a large space with colour.

Old Roses

Many subclasses make up old roses, including alba, damask, bourbon and China. Most old roses bloom only once during the growing season, although some, in particular the rugosa, produce large and colourul hips once flowering is over.


These produce long stems that must be anchored to a support. Some climbers bloom only once during summer, but most modern varieties will flower throughout the growing season. Climbers will flower better if trained horizontally which spreads the growth hormones more evenly along the stem rather than being concentrated at the tip.


Much like climbers, but much more vigorous in growth and with quite vicious hooks for thorns. They can often grow high up into the canopies of trees so are useful for filling large spaces. They flower only once in a season.

Pruning Roses

The best time for pruning roses is generally considered to be late winter so around February and March. With no leaves on the plant, it is easier to see the framework of the plant. Prune out dead, diseased and dying wood, right down to the ground if necessary. Most modern roses grown as shrubs can be cut back to a third of their height. Remove any weak or twiggy bits and make sure that none of the branches cross over each other.


Cut faded flowers to stimulate new growth. You should not deadhead specie roses and others that are grown for their decorative hips. In these cases the flowers should be left on the plants to form hips in the autumn.

More Information

The Royal Horticultural Society have a great website where you can search for information on many different types of flowers, including roses of course. Try their search facility here: RHS Plant Database