10 Best Species Roses to Grow in Your Garden

Roses come in all sorts of forms, from tall climbing roses with large single flowers to short shrub roses with clusters of tiny blooms. One category of roses that professionals recognize is wild roses or species roses. These roses haven’t been cross-bred like modern hybrid roses, and they breed true to seed. If you want to add species roses to your garden, stick with us as we cover some of the best types.

Top 10 Species Roses to Grow in Your Garden

Species Rose Basics

Species roses are a group of roses that have evolved and existed naturally in the wild. That means they’re not a result of crossbreeding and hybridization, and they produce offspring that resemble the parent plants.

It’s important to note that not all wild roses are species roses, and not all species roses are native. That’s because cultivated varieties can escape into the “wild,” and roses that are native in one area can be introduced in a place where they aren’t native.

Most species roses bloom for only a few weeks rather than months. However, they’re also known to produce lots of rose hips that can be used by humans and wildlife alike.

10 Best Types of Species Roses:

You can find species roses that are native to a variety of continents, so if you’re looking for roses that are native to your area, make sure you learn about the species in question. We’ve included ten of the best species roses below.

1. Beach Rose

Blooming red Beach Rose

If you’re looking for a rose that produces lots of plump rose hips, the beach rose is one of your best options. When fall arrives, bright red fruits appear on the plants, much to the delight of birds and humans.

Although the beach rose is native to East Asia, you can now find it growing in many temperate regions worldwide. It’s considered an invasive species in some areas, so you should think carefully before planting it.

This rose prefers moist yet well-drained soil. Since it’s salt-tolerant, you can often see it growing along ocean coasts where few other roses survive.

Scientific name:Rosa rugosa
Growing zones:2–7
Flowering season:May to July
Colors:Pink

2. Carolina Rose

A purple Carolina Rose

The Carolina rose is native to the Eastern United States, where it is widespread and common. You can find it growing at forest edges, alongside roads, in open fields, and at some of the best rose gardens in the world.

It’s a rather short rose that grows as a small shrub or sprawling plant. Since the Carolina rose spreads via suckers, it can form thickets.

The plants produce large pink flowers with yellow stamens. Once the flowers fade, the plants form bright red rose hips that are a beloved food source for birds and small mammals.

Scientific name:Pink with yellow stamens
Growing zones:4–9
Flowering season:June to August
Colors:pink with yellow stamens

3. Climbing Prairie Rose

A pink Climbing Prairie Rose

This species rose can grow as a short climbing rose or a large shrub. Generally, it will grow as a climbing rose if it has the support of trees, arbors, or walls, but it will maintain a shrub form in open areas.

It’s native to much of the Central and Eastern United States, where it grows in areas with moderately moist soils and at least partial sun.

The fragrant pink rose flowers appear in clusters during the summer and give way to rose hips in the fall.

Scientific name:Pink with yellow stamens
Growing zones:5–8
Flowering season:June to August
Colors:pink with yellow stamens

4. Father Hugo’s Rose

Father Hugo’s Rose

Also known as the golden rose of China, Father Hugo’s rose is native to East Asia. It is named after Hugh Scanlan since he sent this variety from China to New York in 1899.

It is a partially hardy rose that can tolerate drought and poor soil. Its canes are covered in lots of thorns, which may also help detract some predators. This would be a good choice for eco-friendly rose gardening.

The plants sport brown canes and stems and produce single yellow flowers during the spring.

Scientific name:Rosa hugonis
Growing zones:5–8
Flowering season:May to June
Colors:light yellow

5. Lady Banks Rose

Blooming yellow Lady Banks Rose

This is one of the largest and most impressive species roses. Its vines can reach up to 40 feet tall, and the plants are covered with clusters of white or yellow flowers.

It’s native to China but has spread to other regions of the world. One block in Tombstone, Arizona, is covered with these plants, which explains why some people refer to it as the tombstone rose.

Since the plants grow so tall, planting them against walls or arbors helps provide the plants with support. However, they can also grow as sprawling vines without proper support.

Scientific name:White or yellow
Growing zones:6–10
Flowering season:April to June
Colors:white or yellow

6. Moyes Rose

Moyes Rose

Also known as the Mandarin rose, this species rose is native to China. It grows as a medium to large shrub that can reach up to 15 feet tall.

The stems are deep red or brown in color and covered with green leaves. Plants begin producing bright pink flowers in the spring, and red rose hips appear by later summer or early fall.

The Moyes rose is a parent plant to modern hybrid roses, including ‘Geranium’ and ‘Nevada.’

Scientific name:Rosa moyesii
Growing zones:4–9
Flowering season:April to June
Colors:pink

7. Musk Rose

Musk Rose

The musk rose gets its name from the musky fragrance that its white flowers produce. This scent has been distilled and used in perfumes and other products.

Experts aren’t sure of the exact origins of the musk rose. Some say it originated in the Himalayas, others say North Africa, and some say Europe.

It grows as a large shrub rose or a shorter climbing rose. The large white flowers appear as single blooms in the late spring.

Scientific name:Rosa moschata
Growing zones:5–9
Flowering season:July to September
Colors:white

8. Prairie Rose

Prairie Rose

Although it may sound like the prairie rose only grows in open areas, it grows near forest edges, meadows, and roadsides throughout much of the Northeast and Midwest United States.

It typically remains under six feet tall but produces suckers that allow it to spread and form thickets.  Rocky soil and dry soil won’t bother these plants, but they don’t like wet soil.

The smooth rose is another common name due to the plant’s smooth, pricker-free canes.

Scientific name:Rosa blanda
Growing zones:3–7
Flowering season:May to August
Colors:pink or white

9. Shrub Rose

Shrub Rose

While many roses have a shrubby growth form, people use the common name “shrub rose” to refer to this species. Unsurprisingly, it grows as a shrub that reaches six to eight feet tall.

This species rose is native to Central and Southern Europe, where it grows in areas with moist and well-drained soil.

The plants produce single, small pink roses, but their foliage is also stunning. Leaves range from deep purple to forest green.

Scientific name:Rosa glauca
Growing zones:2–8
Flowering season:May to June
Colors:pink

10. Virginia Rose

Blooming white Virginia Rose

If you spot a species rose in the Eastern United States, there’s a good chance it’s the common Virginia rose. These plants grow as medium shrubs and often form patches or thickets.

The plants range from four to ten feet tall and can form dense thickets. Single pink or white flowers with yellow stamens appear during the summer.

When fall arrives, the flowers fade, and bright red rose hips take their place.

Scientific name:Rosa virginiana
Growing zones:3–8
Flowering season:June to August
Colors:pink, yellow, or purple

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are All Species Roses Native?

While all species roses are native to some area, they may not be native to your environment! Some species of roses are native to Asia, others come from North America, and even more evolved in Europe.

What Are Some Types of Species Roses?

Species roses include the Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana), musk rose (Rosa moschata), Father Hugo’s rose (Rosa hugonis), and Moyes rose (Rosa moyesii).

What Are the Different Types of Roses?

Horticulturists typically break roses into three main categories: species roses, old garden roses, and modern garden roses. You can then break these categories down into groups, including miniature roses and knock-out roses. Another option is to categorize roses based on their growth habit.

Are Species Roses Hybrids?

No, species roses are not hybrids! These roses formed without human intervention and breed true to seed. While they’re not hybrids, they’re often used as parent plants when breeders create new hybrid roses.

Best Types of Species Roses – Wrapping Up

Whether you live in a Southwest desert, Southeast forest, or Midwest prairie, you can find a native rose that thrives in your area. If you find a species rose native to your area, you’ll be rewarded with a plant that thrives in its environment with little care. Remember that species roses are not hybrids, so they may lack some of modern roses’ disease resistance and vigor. They may also bloom for a shorter period of time than some modern roses.

For more, see our in-depth guides to the best types of edible roses, the best thornless climbing roses, how to plant climbing roses, and the amazing uses and benefits of roses.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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