Rose selection

Selecting your Roses:

There are a vast number of roses in commerce that will perform well in just about any Carolina garden. Some will excel in our region. Roses can be divided into 3 general classes.
Species Roses

are those that occur naturally in ecosystems across the globe. They are the truly “wild roses”. The oldest known rose fossils date back 32 million years. More than 200 species have been identified including varieties native to North America, Europe, central Asia and east Asia. Most are single flowered and have 4-8 petals per bloom, usually 5. It is from a fairly narrow selection of these that all hybrid roses have been bred or born.
Old Garden or Heirloom Roses

are those known to have existed before 1867. There are many subclasses- Gallicas, Bourbons, Hybrid Chinas, Teas, Noisettes, Hybrid Perpetuals and Scotch Briars among others. The dividing line between heirloom and modern varieties is fairly arbitrary, marked by the advent of the first Hybrid Tea, ‘La France’ which was identified in 1867. This can be a little confusing because many old garden type roses have been bred and marketed well past 1867.
Modern Roses

are those bred after ‘La France’ forged the way for the myriad Hybrid Teas, Floribundas & Grandifloras to which we are now so accustomed. Other classes of roses that would be considered modern would include many of the Climbers, Miniatures and Shrubs. In order to help simplify and streamline the process of selecting great roses, the American Rose Society developed an evaluation system whereby experienced rose gardeners test and report on an enormous variety of plants grown in multiple climates. Each plant is then scored based on health, vigor, disease resistance, ease of growth, etc. The scores range from 0.0 to 10.0 and roses scoring less than 6.0 are generally not recommended because of serious flaws. No rose has ever scored a perfect 10. Generally,
any rose scoring 7.8 or higher is a very good to excellent

Additionally, since 2004, ARS members have been polled annually on their choice rose for the year. The ARS also catalogues World Rose Hall of Fame winners triennially. These include both old garden and modern varieties. Using ARS guidelines, the research of other reputable rose societies and anecdotal consensus I will attempt to describe the roses that will likely flourish here in the Carolinas. Some may be universally easy to grow and others I describe may need a little extra nurturing but offer great rewards like intense fragrance, brilliant color or another desirable characteristic. Hybrid Teas became the mainstay of American gardens during the 20th century. Their shrubby forms, blooming habits and general size have made them appealing to many gardeners. Some are truly great roses but others, not so much.

Grandiflora roses arose from the intense breeding of Hybrid Teas that began in the early 20th century. Hybrid Tea roses
generally feature stiff canes, large foliage, a shrubby growth habit and one to three blooms per stem. Grandifloras follow suit but produce very large flowers as compared to their cousins. Shrub roses belong to a relatively new, catch all class of roses that includes most of the English Hybrids bred by David Austin, the Knockout line and others. Contrary to popular consensus, one does not have to prune these roses each season. (I can hear rosarians across the globe groaning at that sentence.) However, it is recommended.

Proper pruning will generally increase new growth, bloom production and help most modern roses maintain a classic form. Left to their own devices, modern roses will grow and bloom just fine but may become leggy, sprawling and push out fewer buds. Any dead wood non-productive canes, diseased growth or out-of-bounds sprawl should be pruned. All hybrid teas and grandifloras will also bloom better with simple dead heading of old blossoms.

This involves snipping or pinching off spent blooms just from the tips of stems. Pruning should be conducted in late winter or early spring, late February to early March here in the Carolinas, just as new buds begin to swell. In general, one third to one half of the shrub should be cut back. Always use clean cutting tools and cut canes at a slight angle, each about one inch above a bud node. Pruning can be repeated mid-summer, after the initial bloom flush of spring has completed. Summer pruning can encourage many modern roses to bloom repeatedly and more productively well into autumn. Each of the following is a highly rated variety or cultivar with a proven track record of benefits and rewards that outweigh any negative traits. They are listed in no particular order. Those marked with * are ones that I grow and have had easy success with.

A few award winners:
Touch of Class 1986
ARS Rating: 8.9 (outstanding), All America Selection
Size/Habit: large & bushy, 2-3 feet wide x 5-6 feet tall
Bloom: large size, classic HT, usually 1 per stem, mild fragrance
Color: Salmon Pink, blooms in flushes throughout the season
a touch of class
Mister Lincoln 1965
ARS Rating: 8.3 (Excellent), All America Selection
mr. lincoln
Size/Habit: large & bushy, 2-3 feet wide x 5-7 feet tall
Bloom: large size, classic HT, usually 1 per stem,
strong fragrance
Color: Deep Red, blooms in flushes throughout the season.

Just Joey 1972

just joey
ARS Rating: 7.9 (Very Good), World Rose Federation
Hall of Fame
Size/Habit: medium & spreading, 4 feet wide x 3-4 feet tall
Bloom: large, informal, single or small clusters, ruffled, strong
fragrance to mature blooms
Color: Coral Orange, blooms in flushes throughout the season.

Roses for North Carolina NC State information NCSU Rose information
Lynn Cochran Master Gardener Volunteer and member of American Rose Society.
Forsyth County North Carolina.

Helpful Links
Roses for North Carolina
NC State information
NCSU Rose information