The Classification of Roses

There are many accepted rose classification systems used worldwide, yet no specific system is deemed “official.” However, The American Rose Society, in association with the World Federation of Roses, offers the most popular rose classification system. Most traditional rose authorities throughout the world embrace this particular system to identify and assign names to roses.

According to the American Rose Society, the three main types of roses are the Species Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Modern Roses.

Species Roses

Species Roses, also known as “wild roses,” were the very first roses, predating man by hundreds of millennia. They are the ancestral root of all other classes of rose. They bloom annually, and their typical five-petaled blossoms are easily recognized. But watch out for thorns on these climbers or shrubs.

Found all over the northern half of the world, Species Roses thrive in moderate conditions.

Dog Roses, Redleaf Roses, Gallic Roses, Cherokee Roses, and French Roses are some popular varieties of Species Roses.

Old Garden Roses

Old Garden Roses are much younger than Species Roses. Any major rose variety classified prior to 1867 are considered Old Garden Roses.

Summer is heralded by the annual blossoming of many Old Garden Roses. Their shrubs and vines develop in many assorted sizes. Colors are varied as well, though normally Old Garden Roses have soft pastel or white blooms. Also known as “antique roses,” they don’t require extensive care, which makes them a favorite of amateur gardeners. Oftentimes, the most sought-after “antique roses” are chosen for their distinctive fragrant smell.

Hybrid Perpetual, Tea, Damask, Noisette, China, Bourbon, and Moss roses are just a few examples of the varieties of roses known as Old Garden Roses.

Modern Roses

Modern Roses are the newest class of roses, deriving from Old Garden Roses. Modern Roses include any variety of rose classified since 1867. Not only are they the most recently identified roses, they are also extremely popular. It is a cross breed of two separate but well-matched plants: the common polyanthus and the Tea Rose.

In contrast to the delicate colors of an Old Garden Rose, the Modern Rose is vivacious and full-bodied. Unlike Species and Old Garden Roses, with the proper care most varieties of Modern Rose will bloom more than once per season. This characteristic may be one of the reasons they are so appealing to horticulturists.

These roses are particular about their surroundings, preferring a warmer climate. Gardeners and florists are just crazy about Modern Roses.

Examples of well-known Modern Roses are the hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda.

Roses are first placed in one of these three key groups. They are then categorized according to size, ancestry, color, blooming characteristics, growth habit, date of introduction, and scent.

Even with all the methods of classification, a horticulturists still cannot possibly identify every rose. Hybrid roses, for example, seem to fall into a class of their own.

Not every expert agrees on just one method of classifying roses. However, the system that seems to work the best is the one created by the American Rose Society. This may be why the American Rose Society’s rose classification method is used by the majority of the world’s rosarians.


I’ve been around farming all of my life. Farmers Life Blog is a way I can share my passion for all things farming and gardening and hopefully share some of my knowledge and experience through the process. Shootin' the breeze doesn't have to be confined to the front porch anymore, now there's a whole world to share my deep and abiding love with.

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