Header Graphic
Rose Care Basics > Buying and Selecting Roses

26 Dec 2005

Buying and Selecting Roses

    Rose plants can be purchased either as bare-root or container plants.
Either type of rose will give you many years of beautiful roses. 
Buying bare-root plants will generally be cheaper than buying those
that have been potted.  Bare-root roses are sold either as packaged
plants or at a nursery with the roses in bins of moist sawdust or soil.
  The advantage of unpackaged bare-root plants is that you can inspect
the root structure as well as the canes.
    Rose bushes are graded 1, 1 1/2, or 2, based on the size and the
number of canes, according to standards set by the American Association
of Nurserymen. To be rated a number 1, a Hybrid Tea for example, must
meet these requirements: when it is taken from the field it must be two
years old and have three or more strong canes, two of which are 18
inches or longer, branching not higher than 3 inches above the bud
union.  The canes may not be this long when you buy the bush because
they have been pruned for handling and to keep the canes in balance
with the root system.  Similarly, Floribunda roses must have 3 canes of
at least 15 inches high and so on for each type of rose.
    Generally speaking,  you should buy only #1 roses as their canes and
roots will be bigger and better developed than the lesser grades.  A 
#1 1/2 grade will have fewer canes but may be acceptable if there is no
other selection.  They may eventually catch up with the higher grade. 
It is wise to stay away from #2 roses as they are inferior and weak
plants that will never offer the quality blooms of a #1 grade rose. 
Grading standards apply only to roses that have been budded onto
rootstock.  Roses grow on their own roots are not required to meet such
grading standards. The grade of the rose should be clearly printed on
the package.
      Other problems are associated  with wax-coated, packaged roses. 
Plants that have this wax coating applied tend to dry out and can
develop growth and root development problems.  Canes that have been
waxed have a tendency to die back and it may be more difficult for the
bud eyes to break dormancy.
    When buying roses look for green, plump, and firm canes.  If the canes
appear shriveled and dry look for another plant.   Inspect the roots if
possible.  The root system should be sturdy and fibrous with several
firm, well-branched roots.  The plant should be well shaped, with canes
spaced around the bud union.
All American Rose Selections(AARS)---  This is a system of testing new
roses for a two year trial period under widely varied soil and climate
conditions.  There are currently 25 test gardens throughout the United
States.  Roses are evaluated and scored twice a year on a wide variety
of attributes:  form of  buds and  flowers, color, fragrance, disease
resistence, repeat bloom. etc.
    ARS Ratings---Each year, members of the American Rose Society rate the
newest roses.  After a rose is rated for 5 years, a national average
rating is established.  These ratings are printed yearly in The
Handbook For Selecting Roses available through the American Rose
Society.  Roses are rated from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest
rating.  Keep in mind that these ratings show a national average and
while a rose may do wonderfully in Ohio or North Carolina it may not
perform the same way in California.  Variations in weather, soil, and
other factors should be considered.
    Many growers will advertise a "Rose of the Year" award.  This is their
own designation and has nothing to do with an  AARS selection or a ARS
    Other awards-----The American Rose Society also sponsors an award
especially for miniature roses---the ARS Award of Excellence, or ARSAE.
  The National Gold Medal Certificate is awarded to rose varieties of
any class that have given the best performance over a period of five
years.  In 30 years it has been awarded only 13 times.

Consider the Rose

If you are like most beginning rose growers, your first experience with
  buying your first rose has been that of impulse buying.  The photo of
the beautiful bloom on the label or perhaps the bloom itself attracts
your attention.  You must have it!  With no other thought, you rush
home and pop your "chosen" rose into a hastily dug hole.  Trouble rears
its ugly head a few months later as your beauty rapidly outgrows it’s
site, which would have been better suited to a smaller, compact plant,
has no fragrance, or quite possibly dies outright!  Woe is I!  Before
you repeat this folly, take a few minutes to "consider the rose".
Obviously, it can be very unwise to chose a rose on the basis of it's
bloom alone.  Consideryour requirements.  Do you want a tall bushy
plant or shorter more compact variety?  Would you like roses to cut and
bring in the home or just a colorful garden display?  How important is
fragrance to you?  Many of today's modern roses have little or no
fragrance.  Consider disease-resistant varieties for easier
maintenance.   Roses require 6-8 hours of sunlight each day and ample
water.  Beyond this, are you willing to fertilize and possibly spray
for insects and disease several times a year?   Which varieties require
little care, which are more likely to suffer in the summer heat or
winter cold?
The following is a brief description of the main types of modern roses
and their growth characteristics.  Selecting roses from these outlines
will help with placement for your garden.
Hybrid Teas-these roses generally bloom with one large flower at the
end of each stem.  Most plants are between 3-5 feet although some
varieties can grow taller.
Floribundas- generally shorter than hybrid teas and they bloom in large
clusters of smaller blooms They average 2-4 feet high and are a great
all-around garden landscape roses.
Grandifloras -share characteristics of both hybrid teas and
floribundas.  Taller than hybrid teas, their blooms are large and they
may bloom in either as single blooms or as clusters.  Due to their
taller height, grandifloras are good background plants.
Miniatures-smaller versions of other rose forms.  Depending on the
variety these can grow  anywhere from 6 inches to 18 inches high; 
although some of the newer varieties are taller.  The bloom size can
range from 1/2 inch to 2 inches wide.
Climbing Roses-vigorous growers that produce long, arching canes and
need to be secured to some type of support.  Climbers can reach 8 to 20
feet or more, depending on the variety.
Today's roses come in all colors except blue and true black.  It is
wise to begin with a limited color scheme of perhaps one dominant color
with the addition of one or two compatible shades  to avoid a busy and
distracting look and avoid color clashes.  Use cool colors of lavender,
white, pink, and pastels to make a small garden look larger and
soothing.  If your garden will be viewed at night use these  lighter
shades,  as deeper colors will fade into the background at sunset. 
Warm colors such as red, yellow, and gold draw the eye and will appear
to make the garden look smaller and hotter.  These strong colors are
good to accent garden focal points.
Consult your local Consulting Rosarians for additional information on
rose selection and buying. They can also provide you with lists of
fragrant roses, disease-resistant roses, roses for problem areas, etc.

    Doing a little homework now can save you countless hours of
frustration and possible shovel-pruning later.  Plant your garden to
your specifications and enjoy many years of beautiful bloom.

            Sharon McColgan,
            ARS Consulting Rosarian



French Lace – F, w
Gourmet Popcorn – Mini, w
Iceberg – F, w
Irresistible – Mini, w
Pascali – HT, w
*Queen Mary II – HT, w


*Centennial Star – HT, yb
Joshua Bradley – HT
Mellow Yellow – HT, dy
Michelangelo - HT
*Radiant Perfume – HT
Solstice – HT, my
Sun Flare – F, my


*Abraham Darby – S, ab
Bill Warriner – F, op
City of Carlsbad – F, ob
Day Breaker – F, ab
Disneyland Rose – F, op
*Honey Perfume – F, ab
*Hot Cocoa – F, Russet
Miami Moon – F, op
Outrageous – F, ob
Sunset Celebration – HT, ab
Sunstruck – HT, ab


*Aromatherapy – HT, mp
*Baronne Edmund de Rothschild
      – HT, pb
Fame – Gr, dp
Gemini – HT, pb
Granada – HT, pb
Jeanne Lajoie – Mini Cl, mp
*Mlle. Cecile Brunner – P, lp
Our Lady of Guadalupe – F, lp
*Peter Mayle – HT, dp
Queen Elizabeth – Gr, mp
Sexy Rexy – F, mp
Secret – HT, pb
Signature – HT, dp
Soaring Spirits – Cl, pb
Summer Fashion – F, pb


Cherry Parfait – F, rb
*Double Delight – HT, rb
*Firefighter – HT, dr
Fourth of July – Cl, rb
Modern Art – HT, rb
Ronald Reagan – HT, rb
Trumpeter – F, mr
Veteran’s Honor – HT, dr


*Della Reese – HT
*Fragrant Plum – HT
*Intrigue – F
*Lagerfeld – HT
*Nicole Carol Miller – Gr
*Outta the Blue – S
*Route 66 – S
Simply Marvelous – F
Sweet Chariot - Mini
*The Prince – S
Winsome - Mini


*Autumn Damask – Species, lp
*Blush Noisette – N, lp
*Boule de Neige – B, w
*Buff Beauty – H Msk, ab
China Doll – P, mp
*Coquettes des Blanches – B, w
*Darlow’s Enigma – HMsk, w
Duchess de Brabant – T, lp
Gruss an Aachen – F, w
Irene Watts (Pink Gruss an
          Aachen) – F, mp or op
*Jeanne d’Arc – N, w
Kateryna – S, mp
Lady Ann Kidwell  - P, mp
Marie Pavie – P, w
*Mrs. B.R. Cant – T, lp
*Narrow Water – N, lp
*Penelope – HMsk, lp
*Reine des Violettes – HP, m
Sharon’s Delight – S, w
*Sombreuil – Cl. T, w
*Sydonie – HP, w
The Gift – P, w
Verdun – P, w
Zephirine Drouhin – B, mp


Carlsbad has two public rose gardens for you to enjoy.  One is at Magee
Park (Carlsbad Blvd. and Beech) and the other is at the Flower Fields. 
You can see which roses do best on the coast at both of these gardens.

Avoid plants that have spindly canes, depenting on the type.  Hybrid
Teas should have canes that are 1/3-1/2” in diameter.
There should be at least 3 basal canes.
Canes should be green with little or no blemishes, damage or dark spots.
Plant should show some growth.
If you live on the coast do NOT buy roses with 40 or more petals.  They
require 80º or more to open.


Select a spot that gets at least 4 hours of sun daily.
Dig a hole 3’ x 3’ if possible and mix in 1/3 planting compost with the
native soil.
If you are planting bareroot roses make a mound and spread the roots
over it.  Bury the roots making sure the bud union (if the plant is
grafted) is above the soil.
Water well and add a root stimulator prevent shock and to help the
plant get started.  Water daily until you see new growth (2-3 weeks). 
Then water as needed.

Abbreviations:  Classifications
B – Bourbon
  Cl - Climbing
F – Floribunda
Gr – Grandiflora
HMsk – Hybrid Musk
HP – Hybrid Perpetual
HRg – Hybrid Rugosa
HT – Hybrid Tea
LCl – Large flower climber
M - Moss
Min – Miniature
MinFl – Mini-Flora
N - Noisette
P – Portland
Pol - Polyantha
S – Shrub
T/Cl T – Tea/Climbing Tea

New from David Austin
Can grow much larger in our climate

*Benjamin Britton - S, mr
*Carding Mill - S, ab
*Charlotte - S, ly
*Comtes de Champagne-S, my
Corvedale - S, mp
*Grace - S, ab
Hyde Hall - S, pb
John Clare - S, dp
*Queen of Sweden - S, lp
*Spirit of Freedom - S, lp
*The Alnwick Rose – S, dp
*The Mayflower - S, dp
Wildeve - S, pb
*Wisley - S, dp


Black Cherry, F, dr
*Bolero, F, w
Carefree Sunshine, Cl., dy
*Ebb Tide, F, m
Home Run, S, dr
Janice Kellogg, F, dp
Let Freedom Ring, HT, mr
Modern Art, HT, rb
Pink Traviata, HT, mp
*Sixteen Candles, F, mp
*Spellbound, HT op
Solstice, HT, my
*Sunstruck, HT, ab
*Truly Yours, HT, pb
Valentine’s Day, Cl Mini-Fl, dr
White Eden, Cl, w
White Majesty, HT, w


By the Members of the

California Coastal Rose Society

Abbreviations:  Colors
w – white/ near white/white blend
ly – light yellow
my – medium yellow
dy – deep yellow
yb – yellow blend
ab – apricot/apricot blend
ob – orange/orange blend
op – orange-pink/orange-pink blend
or – orange-red/orange-red blend
lp – light pink
mp – medium pink
dp – deep pink
pb – pink blend
mr – medium red
dr – dark red
rb – red blend
m – mauve/ mauve blend
         Includes all shades of lavender and

Julia Child, Fl, my    Rainbow Sorbet, F, yb   
Tahitian Sunset, HT, *Wild Blue Yonder, F, m   


Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras

Abbaye de Cluny
Adolf Horstman
Ain't She Sweet
Alec's Red
Alpine Sunset
Amelia Earhardt
Arlene Francis
Auguste Renoir
Baronne Ed.de Rothschild
Big Apple
Blue Girl
Blue Moon
Blue Nile
Blue Ribbon
Bob Hope
Cajun Spice
Candy Stripe
Capt. Harry Stebbings
Centennial Star
Charles de Gaulle
Chrysler Imperial
Command Performance
Corpus Christi
Crimson Glory
Cyril Fletcher
Dolly Parton
Double Delight
Eiffel Tower
Elegant Beauty
Elsa Knolls
Forgotten Cloud
Fragrant Dream
Fragrant Hour
Fragrant Lady
Fragrant Memory
Frederic Mistral
Fragrant Plum
French Perfume
Gold Medal
Golden Masterpiece
Golden Sceptor
Guy de Maupassant
Heart O' Gold
Honest Red
Jardins de Bagatell
John F. Kennedy
Just Joey
Kordes Perfecta
Lemon Spice
Love Potion
Loves's Promise
Marco Polo
Maria Stern
Mary Jean
Mauve Melodee
Melody Perfumee
Miss All-American
Mister Lincoln
Moon Shadow
New Zealand
Olde Romeo
Oyster Pearl
Papa Meilland
Paul Ricard
Perfume Beauty
Perfume Delight
Pink Peace
Proud Land
Rebecca Clair
Red Masterpiece
Royal Amethyst
Royal Dane
Royal Highness
Sheer Bliss
Smooth Perfume
Stainless Steel
Sterling Silver
Summer's Kiss
Sunset Celebration
Sutter’s Gold
Sweet Afton
Sweet Surrender
The Temptations
Touch of Magic
Tower Bridge
Whisky Mac
White Lightnin'


Amber Queen
Angel Face
Apricot Nectar
Blueberry Hill
City of London
Everest Double
Fragrant Apricot
French Lace
George Burns
Gruss an Aachen
Judy Garland
Margaret Merrill
Neon Lights
Old Port
Pensioner's Voice
Purple Heart
Purple Tiger
Radox Bouquet
Sheila's Perfume
Shocking Blue
Winfred Coulter

Sharon McColgan
copyright © 2006-2022, california coastal rose society © all rights reserved.