Floribunda Roses, Patio Roses, English Roses and Old Roses


Common name: Rose

Family: Rosaceae

There must be few gardens where you cannot find at least one example of the huge rose family. There are climbers, ramblers, English roses, free-flowering floribundas, the immensely popular hybrid teas, wild roses and their hybrids, not forgetting the miniature and ‘patio’ roses, popular for today’s trend towards smaller gardens.

Roses have been in cultivation since very early times, principally for medicinal uses and sometimes for religious ceremonial purposes. Using roses purely for their decorative attributes in gardens is a much more recent occurrence.

Glance through a catalogue of a specialist rose grower and you will find hundreds of varieties, many of which have a long history and are still as popular as ever. Among these is the rose known variously as the apothecary’s rose, or the red rose of Lancaster (Rosa gallica var. officinalis) (AGM). It is a fragrant example of great antiquity. A variation of this is Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’, with the same wonderful fragrance; it dates back to even before the 16th century.


Rosa 'Madame Isaac Pereire'Popular species and varieties

For many it is the elegant hybrid tea roses, or bush roses as they are also known, that have the greatest attraction. They have exquisitely formed pointed buds that open to reveal their sumptuous blooms, The modern hybrid teas are much stronger and healthier than the early varieties that date back to the 1860s. Selective breeding over the years has improved the plants and the flowers, to end up with the superb examples we have today.

The hybrid tea is a rose difficult to beat — some are fragrant in varying degrees, others have no fragrance at all. They are available in a range of bold and pastel shades, among these crimson, scarlet and vermillion, to the rich golds and yellows and the more delicate apricots, oranges and so on. From the hundreds of varieties available, there are three I would like to recommend:’Just Joey’ (AGM) carries elegant buds of coppery orange veined with red,’Velvet Fragrance, deep crimson, and ‘Peace’ (AGM), a great favourite, with light yellow blooms flushed with pink.


Floribunda roses

If you wish to create a mass of colour, the floribundas should be considered. These free-flowering shrubs have a long season. They are not noted for their fragrance but they are hardy, robust, more disease-resistant and easy to grow. One of the best is still the bright vermillion-red Trumpeter’ (AGM), a compact bush introduced in 1977.


English roses

This is a fairly new group of roses that came to prominence in the 1970s, the result of crosses between old roses, hybrid teas and floribundas. The charm and fragrance of the former has been combined with the repeat flowering and colour range found within the latter two. English roses have shrubby growth, are free-flowering, and are usually highly fragrant, which makes them immensely popular.

Every year there are new introductions, and among those to look for are ‘Corvedale’ with cup-shaped pink blooms,’Gertrude Jekyll’ (AGM), soft pink, and ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, bright crimson. There are many more in bright and pastel shades, also spray-flowered, and varieties that can be trained as climbers.


hybrid tea rose 'Just Joey'Old roses

These flower in the summer, when they give a truly splendid display, and there are several distinct groups.

• The ‘Gallicas’ are the oldest garden roses, with elegant, beautifully formed blooms. A typical example is ‘Cardinal De Richelieu’ (AGM), very dark purple.

• The ‘Albas’, which go back to the middle ages, include ‘Alba Semiplena’ (AGM), a very fragrant single with milk-white flowers.

• The ‘Damasks’ are also very old, said to have been introduced from the Middle East by the Crusaders. They are wonderfully fragrant, and one of the best is ‘Marie-Louise’, a full-petalled intense pink.

The remaining groups are the ‘Centifolias’ (Provence roses), and the ‘Mosses’, noted for their fragrant oil. Some of the best rose displays are provided by the climbing and rambling species and varieties. These are best grown and trained on walls, pillars, arches and pergolas — even ‘catenaries’ or hanging ropes make attractive structures for roses.

Climbers are different to ramblers, in that they have larger flowers, including climbing versions of bush varieties such as ‘Ena Harkness’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. The singles include ‘Mermaid’, a fragrant sulphur yellow, and ‘Golden Showers’ (AGM), well known for its large semi-double, golden-yellow blooms produced over a long period.

The ramblers bloom with great freedom and produce masses of flowers, once a year in the majority of cases. ‘Crimson Shower’ (AGM) is a good example and one noted for its long season, usually lasting from mid-summer through to early autumn. Its trusses of flowers are bright crimson, set off well by dark foliage.

Patio roses

Recent years have seen garden patios become a main feature of many gardens. As a result, more roses listed as suitable for patios have become available. These are low growing, are ideal for the smaller garden, and are offered in a range of colours.

One of the most popular is ‘Hakuun’ with masses of small buff-orange blooms on bushy plants 45cm (18in) high. ‘Flower Power is another extremely free-flowering variety with salmon-pink flowers and a spicy fragrance. It has a low, compact habit and does not exceed 30cm (12in). Growing to twice the height but well worth considering, is ‘Miss Edith Cavell’, an old stager with scarlet-crimson flowers held in small trusses.

One should not overlook the miniature roses that grow to 30-45cm (12—18in), ideal for very small gardens, window boxes and containers. These have a profusion of tiny miniature blooms. One of the best is ‘Stars ‘n’ Stripes’, with red and white striped blooms held on sturdy 30cm (12in) high stems.



Soil type Most soils are suitable, with the exception of pure sand, chalk and very heavy ‘blue’ clay. Roses will not tolerate waterlogged conditions.

Planting Choose an open, sunny position where they are not subjected to cold winds. Before planting, incorporate plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Avoid fresh animal manure, which is harmful to the roots. Ideally, prepare the bed in late summer or early autumn for planting to take place three or four weeks afterwards. Roses can be planted any time up to early spring, as long as soil conditions are suitable. Dig a large hole, incorporate a handful of bonemeal, spread the roots into position so that they are not cramped or bent and firm the soil well afterwards; standard roses should be staked; climbers and ramblers tied to supports.

Pruning New roses planted in the autumn or winter should be pruned early in the spring. The idea is to produce a framework of strong shoots, at the same time giving the plant a chance to establish quickly. Pruning is generally severe: hybrid teas should be cut back to two or three buds from the base, floribundas four or five. With climbers and ramblers, retain about 45cm (18in) of the strongest growth. Any weak shoots can be cut back to 7-10cm (3-4in) from the base of the plant. This initial pruning should not be overlooked, as it will result in the production of a strong framework of growth from low on the plant

Rosa rugosa 'Alba'Established roses are pruned in late winter. Species and shrub roses require little more than the removal of any straggly stems. Hybrid tea roses, for garden decoration, should have the strongest shoots cut back to four to six buds of the base of the previous year’s growth. Take out any weaker stems to between two and four buds. Avoid cutting into any wood that is more than one year old. Retain a good shape, prune to an outward-facing bud where possible, and remove any congested or crossing stems. The floribundas should be reduced to five to seven buds from the base, and any weak shoots cut back hard.

With climbing roses, a framework of branches is established and trained into position in the early years. Cut back short, lateral shoots to two or three buds in the spring. Any vigorous young growth coming up from the base should be tied into the framework, without pruning. In time this will be used to replace any old branches that require removal.

A different treatment is required for ramblers as these flower on previous years’ growth, which is produced annually from ground level. As a result, when flowering has finished cut down old stems to ground level. Tie in new shoots and, if desired, some of the old shoots can be left for a second year Pruning should be by cutting back the laterals to two or three buds from their base.

Propagation Hardwood cuttings from shrub roses, ramblers and some others should be taken in late autumn, rooting them in an outdoor nursery bed.

Taking cuttings of hybrid teas is not recommended as the resultant plants are likely to lack vigour. Miniature roses can be increased by taking 22cm (9in) cuttings with a heel from non-flowering shoots in late summer. The method most widely used by professional gardeners to increase many roses is by budding, but this is usually beyond the scope of most amateurs.

Pests and diseases There are a number of pests that attack roses (aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, sawflies, froghoppers and so on), and these can be dealt with by using an appropriate insecticide. The most common disease to affect roses is black spot, which can be treated with a suitable fungicide, Some can also suffer from mildew, requiring similar treatment.

18. May 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Propagating Roses, Pruning Roses, Rose Care, Roses | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Floribunda Roses, Patio Roses, English Roses and Old Roses


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