How to Grow Rosa Plants

Guide to Growing the Garden Rose

The Rosa plant genus, commonly known as rose, is a beloved plant amongst gardeners worldwide. This genus comprises over 300 species, and numerous popular cultivars.

Some of the main appeals of Roses lies in their diverse forms, vibrant colors, and some are especially renowned for their delightful fragrances. Plants typically reach a height and spread of around 3 to 6 feet (90 cm - 180 cm), though this can vary greatly depending on the species or cultivar being grown.

Roses usually produce blooms from late spring to early fall, and some varieties even have a repeat flowering that gives a near continuous display.

Garden Party Variety of Rosa
Rosa Garden Party by 阿橋 HQ.

The wide variety of Rosa plants available means that there is likely a Rose suitable for almost any garden. They are frequently grown in a formal garden, cottage garden, country gardens, and can even be used as part of a wildflower meadow.

Specific garden uses, include the use of climbers and ramblers for covering arches and pergolas, while hybrid teas and floribundas can add a touch of elegance to borders. Shrub and species Roses are perfect for more natural settings, or use them in a mixed border.

Many Rose plant varieties make for excellent container plants, thus giving flexibility to gardeners with limited space.

Roses are typically hardy in USDA zones 3/4 to 9, meaning they can endure a broad range of temperatures. Their RHS hardiness rating usually falls within H4 to H6, some even to H7 (species and cultivar specific); so they can readily withstand temperatures down to about -15°C (5°F).

Rosa Species

Rosa damascena (Damask Rose)

Rosa damascena is highly prized for its distinctive, deeply fragrant pink flowers. This variety typically reaches heights of up to seven feet (2.1 m). Amazingly, plants have a spread almost matching their height, thus making this Rose a commanding presence in the garden. The Damask Rose has a gray-green foliage, and produces distinctive, large, rounded rose hips.

Damask Rose
Rosa damascena by Emilian Robert Vicol, CC 2.0.

Damask Roses are often grown for their intense fragrance. They are a popular choice for borders and flower beds. Their perfumed blooms, appear in late spring or early summer. They are commonly used in the production of rose oil for perfumes and also have use for culinary purposes.

Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose)

Rosa rugosa has attractive, wrinkled leaves and creates large, bright rose hips. This robust rose grows to about six feet (1.8 m) in height. It is known to be exceptionally hardy and has a disease-resistant nature. Rugosa Rose flowers are pleasantly scented and may be pink, white, or sometimes yellow.

Rugosa Rose
Rugosa Rose by Andreas Rockstein.

These roses are great for use in hedging, due to their dense, bushy growth habit. Rugosa Roses can flourish in a variety of garden conditions, including coastal areas, and offer a long blooming season from summer through fall. Their large rose hips also provide winter interest , as well as acting as a source of food for wildlife.

Rosa multiflora polyantha (Multiflora Rose)

Rosa multiflora polyantha is a species of vigorous climbing rose that can reach heights of up to 15 feet (4.5 m). Distinguishing features include numerous small white flowers and a glossy foliage. Known as the Multiflora Rose, it has an invasive nature, and is often seen climbing over fences and other plants.

Multiflora Rose
Multiflora Rose by 阿橋 HQ.

Used frequently in cottage gardens, Multiflora Rose creates lush cascades of flowers. It flourishes in full sun to partial shade. Its dense growth and thorny branches mean that it is often used to create a natural fence.

Rosa chinensis (China Rose)

Rosa chinensis, is better known as the China Rose. It is beloved for its recurrent flowering throughout the growing season. It reaches a comparatively moderate height of two to five feet (0.6 to 1.5 m), depending on the variety. The flowers of China Rose are versatile in color, and range from white to pink and red.

China Rose
China Rose by Forest and Kim Starr.

Traditionally grown for their long blooming period and variety of flower colors, this plant is great to grow if you wish to add a splash of color to borders and beds. It is often used as a parent in hybridization processes (because of its trait for repeat flowering).

Rosa gallica (French Rose)

Rosa gallica, the French Rose, is a compact, deciduous shrub that typically grows to around 4.5 feet (1.4 m) tall. Flowers are a striking pink or crimson color, and the plant is also known for its attractive, grayish-green foliage.

French Rose
Rosa gallica Versicolor by Amanda Slater.

The French Rose is usually cultivated for its beautiful fragrant flowers, which are used to make rose oil and rose water. It is a popular choice for cottage and old-world style gardens. Grow in a sunny location that has a well-drained soil.

Rose Cultivars

Rosa 'Peace' (Peace Rose)

Rosa 'Peace' is an hybrid tea rose, which grows to an height of about four feet (1.2 m). It is celebrated for its large, double flowers. These possess a unique color combination of creamy yellow centers with blush pink edges.

Peace Rose
Peace Rose by John.

The Peace Rose is an excellent choice for mixed borders, rose gardens, and makes for a stunning cut flower.

Rosa 'Mister Lincoln' (Mister Lincoln Rose)

The Rosa 'Mister Lincoln' variety hybrid tea rose can reach heights of five feet (1.5 m). This can make it a prominent feature in the garden.

Mister Lincoln Rose
Mister Lincoln Rose by F Delventhal.

Mister Lincoln Rose is favored for its velvety, deep red flowers and strong damask fragrance. It performs well in mixed borders and rose gardens, and is also popular as a cut flower.

Rosa 'Iceberg' (Iceberg Rose)

The Rosa 'Iceberg' is one of the best and most sustained flowering varieties among roses. It usually grows to about four feet (1.2 m) high, and carries clusters of pure white or delicate pink blooms.

Iceberg Rose
Iceberg Floribunda Rose (Korbin) by cultivar413.

Iceberg Rose is often used for mass planting due to its continuous blooming, disease resistance, and ease of care. It is an excellent choice for hedges, borders, and for use in a cottage gardens.

Rosa 'Queen Elizabeth' (Queen Elizabeth Rose)

Rosa 'Queen Elizabeth' is a grandiflora type of rose. It reaches around six feet (1.8 m) in height.

Queen Elizabeth Rose
Queen Elizabeth Rose by T.Kiya.

Queen Elizabeth Rose is grown for its striking pink double flowered blossoms and a robust growth habit. It is commonly used as a specimen plant, in beds and borders, and is also suitable for container gardening.

Rosa 'New Dawn' (New Dawn Rose)

Rosa 'New Dawn' is a climbing rose that is appreciated for its soft pink flowers and repeat blooming throughout the season. It can grow up to a height of 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 m), and thus requires support.

New Dawn Rose
New Dawn Rose by someone10x.

New Dawn Rose is a favorite choice for pergolas, trellises, fences, and walls. It is prized for its beauty and has an ability to cover large areas. It is a great plant to grow if you wish to add vertical interest to the garden.

Rosa 'Just Joey' (Just Joey Rose)

Rosa 'Just Joey' is a hybrid tea rose. It produces large, ruffled blooms of a coppery-orange hue. It generally grows to about four feet (1.2 m) tall.

Just Joey Rose
Just Joey Rose by bluefootedbooby.

The Just Joey Rose is loved for its unusual color and intense fruity scent. It is an ideal Rosa plant for mixed borders and rose gardens. Its large flowers make it is a great choice for cut flower arrangements.

How to Grow Rosa Plants in the Garden

Roses are versatile and can adapt to a variety of conditions, but they will thrive best in the right environments. Plants prefer a garden location in full sun, ideally receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. That said, many cultivars can tolerate some shade, especially in hotter climates.

Roses prefer to grow in a rich, well-drained soil. A slightly acidic to neutral pH is ideal. Regular addition of organic matter such as compost or a well-rotted manure can greatly improve soil conditions for Roses.

If starting Roses from seed, then be prepared for a long-term project. Most Rose seeds will require a period of cold stratification to germinate. Following stratification, sow the seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings into the garden once the risk of frost has passed. As many garden Roses are hybrids, their seeds may not produce plants identical to the parent. But this can lead to some amazing results (but generally not in my case!).

It is more common for Roses to be propagated via budding or grafting onto rootstocks. This propagation method helps to ensure that the new plants stay true and retains any desirable characteristics of the parent plant. Many Roses, especially shrub and species Roses, can also be propagated via hardwood cuttings. Take these in autumn or early spring.

Most Roses should be planted about 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) apart. As this will both allow good air circulation, and also prevent them from overcrowding as they mature. You will need to provide more space for climbing or rambling roses. As a large genus, it is important to consider the mature size of the specific Rosa variety or species being grown when determining the spacing.

Once planted in the garden, Roses will benefit from a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and to help prevent weeds. Regular feeding during the growing season and proper pruning will keep Roses healthy, and also encourage a stunning display of flowers year after year. While Roses can be somewhat finicky, with the right care, they make an amazing addition to almost any garden.

Rosa Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Rosa.
  • Common Names: Rose, Garden Rose, Wild Rose, Old Garden Rose, Modern Garden Rose.
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 4 - 10. RHS Hardiness Rating: H6 - H7.
  • Best Used For / Garden Location: Borders, beds, along walls, fences, trellises. Full sun to partial shade.
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Perennial / Shrub.
  • Plant Height: 1 - 6 ft (0.3 - 1.8 m).
  • Plant Spread: 3 - 5 ft (0.9 - 1.5 m).
  • Blooms: Late spring to early fall.
  • Flower Details: Vary in size, color, and scent. Most have five petals.
  • Leaf Folilage: Pinnate with 5-9 leaflets. Typically, dark green and glossy.
  • Fruit: Rose hips, usually red or orange, edible and high in vitamin C.
  • Best Light Conditions: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained, loamy to sandy soil, pH 6.0 to 6.5.
  • Sowing, planting: Plant bare root roses in early spring. Container roses can be planted any time during growing season.
  • Germination time: Rose seeds usually take 2 - 6 weeks to germinate at 68 - 86°F (20 - 30°C).
  • Propagation: By cuttings in summer, by sowing seeds in fall or early spring, by grafting in winter.
  • Plant Care: Regular watering, pruning, and fertilizing. Use rose-specific fertilizer for best results.
  • Growing in pots and containers: Yes, especially dwarf and patio varieties. Ensure good drainage and regular feeding.
  • Growing as a House plant: Not typically grown indoors due to light requirements, but miniature roses can be kept indoors in bright light and high humidity conditions.
  • Miscellaneous: Attracts bees, birds, and butterflies. Deer and rabbit resistant. Some species can become invasive in certain areas, such as Rosa rugosa in the northeastern US.
  • Pests and diseases: Common pests include aphids, black spot, powdery mildew, and rust.
  • Common Garden Species / Cultivars / Varieties: Rosa damascena (Damask Rose) has large, pink, highly fragrant flowers. Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose) known for its wrinkled leaves and large, bright rose hips. Rosa 'Peace' (Peace Rose) is a well-known hybrid tea rose with yellow to cream-colored flowers flushed with pink.
  • Family: Rosaceae, the Rose family.
  • Native: Northern Hemisphere, including Asia, Europe, North America, and northwest Africa.
  • References: RHS Guide to Roses, Rose cultivars, North Carolina Extension Rose Guide

Common Questions

How many members does the Rosa genus contain?

The Rosa genus comprises around 300 species and thousands of cultivars. These range from climbing roses, through to shrubs and miniatures.

Do Rosa plants make for a good garden or landscaping plant?

Rose is a a classic garden plant. With their diverse forms, stunning blooms, and often delightful fragrance, they make a wonderful addition to a garden.

Which Rose species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Some of the most frequently grown species include Rosa damascena (Damask Rose), Rosa gallica (French Rose), and Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose).

Are Rosa plants fragrant?

Many Rosa species and cultivars are fragrant, with scents ranging from the classic 'rose' aroma itself, to notes of fruit, spice, wine, and even chocolate.

What is the perfect location to grow Rose?

Roses generally prefer a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil. They also appreciate good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.

Is Rosa invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Some species, such as Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose) are considered invasive in parts of the USA, as they are known to have aggressive growth and spread. As ever, check your local regulations before growing any problematic plants in your garden.

How do I remove Rosa plants from my garden?

Removing Rosa plants requires careful digging to ensure the entire root system is removed. Wearing protective gloves is advised due to thorns.


The Rosa plant genus, better known as the Roses, includes some of the world's most iconic and cherished flowers. These hardy plants originate from many different parts of the globe, including Asia, Europe, North America, and Northwestern Africa.

Roses prefer to grow in a garden location with full sun and a fertile, well-draining soil. They usually get planted in the spring or fall. Regular watering and pruning are essential for good health and to promote blooms. With hundreds of cultivars available, Roses offer gardeners an amazing palette of colors, sizes, and fragrances to choose from.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Rosa plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Rose family growing guides: How to grow Acaena microphylla, Potentilla, Aruncus, and Dryas plants.