Rose experts do not agree on the number of classifications into which a rose may be assigned. The American Rose Society suggests 56 variations; the World Federation of Rose Societies clings to 37 classifications and the British Association of Rose Breeders recognizes 30. Any one of these totals will indicate why these comments will concern only the most common classes of modern roses whose history begins in 1867 with the introduction of the hybrid tea, La France.
Hybrid Teas and Climbing Hybrid teas are large-flowered roses which generally produce one bloom to a stem. The bushes range from approximately three feet in height to six feet or more depending on soil and climate. They are smaller than their ancestors and often less hardy but bloom continuously with the high-pointed form which has become the classic shape in roses.
Grandifloras and Climbing Grandifloras produce the typical but smaller hybrid tea blooms of their ancestor in clusters. Bush size is generally taller than the hybrid tea.
Floribundas and Climbing Floribundas as their name indicates, produce clusters of blossoms on bushes ranging from two and a half feet to six feet tall. Since they bloom throughout the entire season, they offer a great deal of color. Disbudding can reduce the spray of a floribunda to the single-flowered stem of a hybrid tea.
Polyanthas and Climbing Polyanthas are cluster-flowered, compact bushes which are generally smaller than the floribundas. First appearing in the 1880s, they reached the peak of their popularity in the 1920s. They declined in popularity when they were superseded by the miniature roses.
Miniatures and Climbing Miniatures are true genetic dwarfs whose name is more directly connected to the size of the blossoms rather than the size of the bush. Their height ranges from six inches for what is said to be the smallest rose in the world to cultivars with bushes three feet or more in height to climbers reaching 10 feet or more. Miniatures are hardier than their larger relatives. Mini-Flora is a new sub-class recently recognized by the American Rose Society to accommodate the trend toward larger forms of miniature roses. Most of these are larger than the traditional miniature but smaller than the familiar floribunda.
Shrubs, characterized by their spreading habit, hardiness and prolific blooming include five subdivisions: hybrid kordesii, hybrid moyesii, hybrid musk, hybrid rugosa and shrub. The English Roses or David Austin roses belong to this last class.