Roses with similar characteristics and needs are organized into a number of different groups, or classes. Here are some of the most popular groups, with tips for caring for each type of rose.
Damask Roses: Prickly stems, downy leaves with large oval leaflets and double-petal very fragrant flowers singly or in loose clusters. Bloom in spring or early summer on stems that formed the previous year. Prune lightly immediately after flowering. Grow in a border or over a support.
Tea and Climbing Teas: Smooth to prickly stems and medium glossy leaves, with double-petaled spice-scented flowers that appear alone or in groups of three. Flowering begins in spring and continues until autumn, with new blooms replacing spent flowers. Blooms on new growth as well as stems formed the previous year. Can be shrublike or climbing. Prune in late winter or early spring, cutting back main stems to 10 inches in cool climates and 24 inches in warm climates. Cut side branches back to 6 inches. For climbing teas, cut only dead or damaged wood in the first 2 years, train onto wires, and then prune to maintain shape and direction. Grow in a sheltered area or against a wall.
Climbers: Stiff and prickly arching stems with dense glossy leaves. Scented flowers appear alone or in clusters. Flowers appear in spring and early summer; some varieties bloom again through the summer. In late winter/early spring, cut only dead or damaged wood in the first 2 years, train onto wires, and in following years prune to maintain shape and direction. Grow against a wall or fence or over a trellis or arbor.
Floribunda: Single- or double-petal flowers appear all season long in clusters of 3 to 25, on new growth and the previous year’s growth. Prickly stems hold glossy dark green leaves made up of oval leaflets. In late winter or early spring, cut back main stems to 10 to 18 inches and prune side shoots to 2 or 3 buds. Grow as a hedge or in a border.
Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora: Upright or bushy roses with prickly stems and dark green leaves made up of large leaflets. Large double-petal scented flowers appear in summer to autumn, with new blooms continually replacing the old. They make good cut flowers. Prune in late winter or early spring, cutting back main stems to 10 inches in cool climates and 24 inches in warm climates. Cut side branches back to 6 inches. Use as a hedge or in a border.
Miniature Roses: Compact stems with sparse thorns and very small leaves. Tiny flowers appear in clusters of 3 to 11 from summer to fall. Usually unscented. In late winter or early spring, cut back main stems to 10 inches and prune side shoots to 2 or 3 buds. Grow along a path, in a raised bed or in containers.
Polyantha: Compact shrub roses that bloom repeatedly from late spring to autumn. Thorns are sparse and leaves are glossy. Flowers are small and fragrance free but they are carried in sprays of many individual blooms. In late winter or early spring, cut back main stems to 10 to 18 inches and prune side shoots to 2 or 3 buds. Grow in a bed, border, hedge or containers.
Shrub Roses: This group is diverse and includes English roses and other subgroups. Generally they have prickly stems, leaves made up of large leaflets and scented flowers carried in clusters from spring to autumn. Prune lightly in summer after flowering ends; if flowering persists into autumn, prune lightly in late winter while the shrub is dormant. Grow in a bed or border or use as a hedge.