Antique Roses – Old Roses

Thanks to their beauty and easy cultivation, old and antique roses still have their place in our gardens

Old roses have been popular since centuries because of their beauty, their amazing fragrance and their toughness.

Many gardeners decide that they do not want to have old roses in their garden because of their vigorous growth or because most of them are only once-bloomers.

However, what is an antique or old rose?

The answer is not a clear cut. Some may say that all roses grown before the First World War are old roses.

 The American Rose Society defines  antique roses as developed and grown before 1867; the date when the first Hybrid Tea rose La France was introduced.

Classification Of Antique Roses

Old roses should give your garden an antique, old touch with all the qualities these plants can offer.

There will always be some plants that we may feel belong to other groups, but here it is all about to choose your old roses with care and how easy they are to grow.


Alba Rose

Photo courtesy of Patrick Nouhailler

These hybrids between Rosa Damascena and Rosa Canina are very hardy and disease-resistant. They are very fragrant, once-bloomers with white to pink flowers and grey-green foliage blooming in late spring to mid-summer.

They grow upright to 6 feet tall and do well in zone 4 without winter protection.

Bourbons and Portlands

Photo courtesy of Rhian

Usually, this shrubby vigorous and fragrant plant is repeat flowering. They are crosses between Damascena and Chinas. Bourbons grow 6 feet tall, and some climbers can grow to 12 feet.

The  Bourbons show pink to red blooms with glossy, bright green foliage and are hardy to about 5°F.

Portlands are similar but derived from a Damascena/Gallica cross and make smaller plants.

Centifolia Roses

Photo courtesy of Rhian

They are also known as Cabbage Roses because of the way their nearly hundred petals fold over. The pink to purple flowers bloom once in spring and have large, crinkled leaves.

Most of them are hardy to -15°F and have a spicy fragrance.

China Roses

Photo courtesy of Duncan Harris

The repeat-blooming Chinas have contributed a lot to the world of modern roses. They appear in all shades of pink, red and purple with dainty leaves. Most of the Chinas are not very winter hardy and will grow in zones 7 and higher without troubles.

They grow in a range from 3 feet to sometimes 6 feet in a light and open habit.

Damask Roses

Photo courtesy of sammydavisdog

The highly scented, clustered and large flowers come in shades of white, pink and red with a grayish-green foliage.

The once-blooming Damasks are very tough and hardy to -20°F without winter protection.

Gallica Roses

Photo courtesy of Amanda Slater

The very fragrant red, pink or purple flowers with coarse leaves, usually grow upright. The leaves turn red in the fall.

They form low, 4-6 feet tall shrubs and grow well in zones 4-9.

Hybrid Perpetuals

Photo courtesy of Malcom Manners

These vigorous, sometimes repeat-flowering shrubs are the forefathers of the Hybrid Teas. The fragrant flowers come with varieties of pink, purple, red and white and are excellent for cutting.

They are hardy to -20°F.

Moss Roses

These types of old roses are sports from Centifolias or Damasks with small, mossy hairs on their flowers and stems, which are responsible for the name Moss rose.

They are not easy to grow roses, but are popular because of their unique characteristic.

Noisette Roses

Photo courtesy of Wang kun hung

This first American class of roses, developed in the 19th century, is a repeat blooming rose and not winter-hardy. They only grow in southern climates, zones 7-10.

The fragrant blooms come in shades of orange, yellow, cream, white and red.

Rugosa Roses

Photo courtesy of Zixii

Rugosas are tough and easy to grow roses. The very hardy and disease-resistant plants with their crinkled leaves come in shades of red, purple, pink, yellow and white.

They are compact shrubs 4-8 feet high and can be grown in almost all American climate zones, starting with zone 3.

Other Types Of Antique Roses

Scotch roses are attractive shrubs with Rosa pimpinellifolia in their cross.

Hybrid musks are pretty similar to modern shrubs but have the Rosa moschata in their make-up.

Tea roses are crosses between a China and Rosa gigantea

Species roses, native nearly on the whole world you can find many characteristics in modern roses.

› Antique Roses

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