There are so many different types of roses and red ones can be found in almost all. I will try to to list some of the best. Just a word of caution at the outset, though. Before you purchase any rose for your garden, you should do your homework. Be sure that it will do well in your particular climate. Will it grow in your zone? Can it take your humidity? Almost all soils must be amended, be they clay or sandy, acid or alkaline, but some roses may do better in a particular type of soil. Just don't buy a rose only because it's beautiful.

That said, let's start with that classic single red rose that I believe is the image that pops into most people's heads when they hear the word "rose"; the hybrid tea. Hybrid teas have large flowers at the end of a long stem, like the ones you buy from a florist, with a high center and many petals. Some of the older standbys that have not faded away, with good reason, are 'Chrysler Imperial' (1952, Lammerts)*, 'Mister Lincoln' (1964, Swim & Weeks) and 'Ingrid Bergman' (1984, Olesen). More recently, we have 'Opening Night' (1998, Zary), 'Veteran's Honor' (1999, Zary) and 'Ronald Reagan' (2005, Zary).

Image Image Image
'Chrysler Imperial' 'Mister Lincoln' 'Ingrid Bergman'
photo credit: Calif_Sue photo credit: happenstance photo credit: jamie68
Image Image Image
'Opening Night' 'Veteran's Honor' 'Ronald Reagan'
photo credit: Pianolady2 photo credit: Jackson & Perkins {1} photo credit: Jackson & Perkins {1}

If you don't care about single blooms, floribundas are a good choice, and not as fussy as hybrid teas. The plants are generally more compact and have an abundance of blossoms, but do not have the long stems of the hybrid tea. 'Europeana' (1963, DeReuiter), 'Lavaglut' (1978, Kordes) and 'Showbiz' (1983, Tantau) are some of the older varieties you might want to look for. 'Black Cherry' (2006, Jackson & Perkins), 'Songs of Praise' (2003, Harkness) and 'Ruby Vigarosa' (2001, Kordes) are three of the best from recent years.

Image Image Image
'Europeana' 'Lavaglut' 'Showbiz'
photo credit: Todd_Boland photo credit: grampapa photo credit: Calif_Sue
Image Image Image
'Black Cherry' 'Songs of Praise' 'Ruby Vigarosa'
photo credit: daryl photo credit: Harkness Roses [2] photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7]

The miniatures and minifloras are always fun. The minis have tiny blooms, many of them exactly like a baby hybrid tea. They are classed as miniatures based on the size of their blooms, but the bushes may grow to 3 feet or more. There are also climbers in both of these classes. Well suited to smaller gardens or the front of a border, even pots, look for 'Why Not' (1983, Moore) or 'Starina' (1965, Meilland). Two excellent intoductions in the past decade are 'Red Scentsation' (1998, White) and 'Ralph Moore' (1999, Saville), the latter dedicated to Moore, the father of miniature roses, who was honored in 2000 for a lifetime of achievement as the first and most prolific miniature hybridizer[2]. Mr. Moore celebrated his 100th birthday in 2007. For something a bit more unusual 'Scarlet Moss' (1988, Moore), is a mini moss and 'Red Minimo' (1991, deRuiter), is a micro-mini with blooms 1" in diameter and reaching a height of only 6 to 12 inches. Minifloras are a newer class, created to accommodate those that are too large to be a mini and too small to be a floribunda. Try 'Harm Saville' (2004, Carruth) or, brand new for this year, 'Power Point' (2008, Benardella).

Image Image Image Image
'Why Not' 'Starina' 'Red Scentsation' 'Ralph Moore'
photo credit: Irene Lindsey[4] photo credit: Nor' East Miniature Roses[5] photo credit: Nor' East Miniature Roses[5] photo credit: Irene Lindsey[4]
Image Image Image Image
'Scarlet Moss' 'Red Minimo' 'Harm Saville' 'Power Point'
photo credit: Irene Lindsey[4] photo credit: Nor' East Miniature Roses[5] photo credit: Nor' East Miniature Roses[5] photo credit: Nor' East Miniature Roses[5]

The next class is the shrubs, easy to grow and generally hardy, thay are often your solution for a hedge or other landscaping. Carefree and very disease resistant, 'Knock Out' (1999, Radler) has been extremely popular. To add to the popularity, there is now 'Double Knock Out' (2004, Radler), which has a fully double bloom. Some others of note; 'Isabel Renaissance' (1995, Poulsen), 'Hope for Humanity' (1995, Collicutt, Parkland series)' and a single, 'Cherry Meidiland' (1994, Meilland). 'Rockin' Robin' (1997, Carruth) is a jazzy addition, red, striped with white and pink.

Image Image Image
'Knock Out' 'Double Knock Out' 'Isabelle Renaissance'
photo credit: boneyween photo credit: venu2 photo credit: rannveig
Image Image Image
'Hope for Humanity' 'Cherry Meidilland' 'Rockin' Robin'
photo credit: The Canadian Rose Society[3] photo credit: Kell photo credit: Calif_Sue

ImageThe English roses can be taken as a class by themselves and the outstanding name in this class is David Austin. There are a number of reds and the debate goes on as to which is the best. 'William Shakespeare 2000' (2000, Austin), 'L D Braithwaite' (1988, Austin) and 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' (1998, Austin) are three of the varieties that David Austin recommends. I am going to go out on a limb and recommend 'Tradescant' (1993, Austin) as it was recommended to me and currently grows in my rose garden. The David Austin web site describes it as a deep wine crimson, and indeed it is; a gorgeous bloom. The Romantica's, a group from Meilland in France, are reminiscent of the Austin English Roses. 'Rouge Royale' (2000, Meilland), technically a hybrid tea, is a wonderful example (photo at right [6]) .

Image Image Image Image
'William Shakespeare 2000' 'L. D. Braithwaite' 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' 'Tradescant'
photo credit: Calif_Sue photo credit: happenstance photo credit: DonnaMack photo credit: grampapa

I actually took a poll on red climbers last year because I was looking for one myself. I settled on 'Dublin Bay' (1975, McGredy). Some of the other most popular are 'Blaze' (1932, Kallay), 'Quadra' (1994, Ogilvie), 'Altissimo' (1967, Delbard-Chabert), 'Don Juan' () and 'Red Eden (2002, Meilland). There is also 'Blaze Improved', aka 'Blaze Superior' or 'New Blaze' (1935, Böhm). From my reading, I understand that many of the plants offered as 'Blaze' today are actually 'Blaze Improved'.

Image Image Image
'Dublin Bay' 'Blaze' 'Quadra'
photo credit: grampapa photo credit: anix photo credit: DonnaMack
Image Image Image
'Altissimo' 'Don Juan' 'Red Eden'
photo credit: Happenstance photo credit: ladyanne photo credit: Kell


Of the hybrid rugosas, 'Hunter' (1961, Mattock) is an outstanding red (photo at right [7]). The rugosas actually do not like to be sprayed and are generally hardy in the colder zones.

That leaves us with the OGR's (Old Garden Roses), of which there many. I will group some examples of these together.

Image Image Image

Bourbon 'Robusta' (1877, Soupert et Notting)

Hybrid perpetual 'Ferdinand Pichard' (1921, Tanne) Hybrid perpetual 'Henry Navard' (1924, Cant)
photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7] photo credit: philomel photo credit: alicewho
Image Image Image
Portland 'Rose du Roi' (1815, Lelieur) Moss 'Henri Martin' (1862, Laffay) Tea 'Francis Dubreuil' (1894, Dubreuil)
photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7] photo credit: rhoeas photo credit: bootendall
Image Image Image
Gallica 'James Mason' (1982, Beales)

Gallica 'La Belle Sultane' (before 1795, unk/Netherlands)

Hybrid China 'Louis Philippe d'Angers (1824, Guerin)

photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7] photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7] photo credit: Ashdown Roses[7]

That's probably plenty for you to absorb now. There is a plethora of other choices. You can browse PlantFiles (the giant plant database here at Dave's Garden) for more. Huge thanks are due to the DG members whose excellent photographs from PlantFiles I have used in this article (credits are given underneath each photo).

Here are a few other excellent resources for roses on the web:

HelpMeFind Rose Index



* In parentheses after each cultivar - (year of introduction, hybridizer)

[1] Photo credit

[2] Photo credit Harkness Roses

[3] Photo credit The Canadian Rose Society

[4] Photo credits Irene Lindsey on Ralph Moore's Sequoia Nursery

[5] Photo credit Nor' East Miniature Roses, a division of Greenheart Farms, Inc.

[6] Photograph of 'Rouge Royale' courtesy of Gindee77

[7] Photo credit Ashdown Roses

I browsed the The Canadian Rose Society Favourites Survey for some input into this article.

The thumbnail at the top of the article is 'Red Sunblaze' (1988, Meilland). It is a miniature and the very first rose I planted at my current home. (Photo by author)