10 Popular Heirloom Roses For Your Garden

Gallica splenden rose bush with pink flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Heirloom roses (also called "old garden roses" or "antique roses") are, strictly speaking, roses that have been around since before 1867. That's when hybridizers developed the hybrid tea rose, 'La France.' Thus the division was created between "modern roses" ('La France' and all hybrids that followed) and heirloom roses. But, broadly speaking, heirloom plants are open-pollinated and at least 50 years old. Indeed, gardeners who aren't sticklers about definitions consider even hybrids that have been around for half a century or more (such as the Peace rose) to be old-fashioned roses.

Many gardeners are attracted to heirloom roses because growing them gives them a sense of continuing a tradition. Not that you have to be a history buff to like heirloom roses. Some people grow them simply because they have a better fragrance than many modern roses.

If you do like the idea of continuing a tradition, here are ten popular heirloom roses that would be a perfect fit for a cottage garden.

  • 01 of 10

    Alba Roses

    Alba roses with white flowers closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Alba rose is thought to have been the white rose that symbolized the House of York, the British royal faction that fought the House of Lancaster (represented by a red rose) in the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century. While history buffs will love it, this rose also has aesthetic features of value.

    Rosa 'Alba Semi-Plena' has a semi-double, white bloom with a three-inch wide flower and an excellent fragrance. The plant offers good disease-resistance and is more tolerant of shade than many roses. As a tall rose (up to 15 feet high and five feet wide), it is typically trellised.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, average moisture
  • 02 of 10

    Queen Elizabeth Rose

    Pink Queen Elizabeth rose.


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    Queen Elizabeth is a Grandiflora rose. It reaches four to six feet in height, with a spread of two to three feet. Bloom time is May, but it will rebloom off and on into the autumn. It has double blossoms that offer some fragrance. The color is pink, but with a silvery sheen to it.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage, consistent moisture, slightly acidic.
  • 03 of 10

    Fantin-Latour Rose

    Rosa Fantin Latour

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    Centifolia is another category of heirloom roses and the Fantin-Latour has double pink flowers that emit a wonderful scent. Bloom time is late spring. The bush becomes four to six feet tall and wide.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained ground kept evenly moist
  • 04 of 10

    Damask Roses

    Damask roses in between leaves with white-pink flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    'Omar Khayyam' is a Damask rose. The name comes from the famous Islamic poet. It's supposed to have grown at his tomb in Persia.

    It grows two to three feet tall and spreads out to the same dimensions. The double, somewhat fragrant, pink blooms last from May to June. Each measures two inches across.

    Mulching it is important during two different seasons. In the summer it helps the ground to retain moisture and keep the roots cool. In the winter it protects the crown from cold (but remove mulch once the ground thaws).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Slightly acidic, well-drained, average moisture
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Duchess of Portland Rose

    Closeup of Duchess of Portland rose.

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    This heirloom rose is one of the Portland roses. Its three-inch-wide flowers can be crimson or deep-pink, semi-double or single and they are moderately fragrant. It matures to three or four feet tall and three feet wide. This repeat-bloomer starts flowering in late spring or early summer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained ground kept evenly moist
  • 06 of 10

    The Peace Rose

    Closeup of Peace rose flower.


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    Rosa 'Peace' is a hybrid tea rose standing three to four feet tall, with a width of two to three feet. Blooming in May and reblooming off and on until fall frosts arrive, the double flower has an interesting color. The mildly fragrant petals are golden, with pink margins, and the flowers can reach up to 6 inches in diameter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Slightly acidic, well-drained, evenly moist
  • 07 of 10

    Ballerina Rose

    The beautiful pink & white petalled Ballerina Rose soaking up the bright sun rays

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    Ballerina falls into the Hybrid Musk category. It stands four to six feet tall, with a spread of three to five feet. Blooming from May right into fall, it has single, light-pink flowers that are one inch in diameter. The flowers offer a mild fragrance.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, slightly acidic soil that drains well
  • 08 of 10

    Cecile Brunner Rose

    Cecile Brunner rose closeup.

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    This climbing rose variety becomes 10 to 20 feet long and three to six feet wide. Its small flowers, which are fragrant, light-pink, and double, bloom from spring to fall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained ground kept evenly moist
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Gallica Roses

    Gallica splenden rose with pink flowers closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you're attracted to heirloom roses for their history, then you must grow Gallica roses (Rosa gallica var. officinalis). This category goes back to the classical period.

    Gallica roses usually come in pink, purple, or red, but some are even striped. The three-inch blooms can be single, double, or semi-double and have great fragrance. Bloom time is late spring to mid-summer. The bush matures to three to five feet tall and wide.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained ground kept evenly moist
  • 10 of 10

    Noisette Roses

    Noisette rose closeup.


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    Noisette roses come in apricot, cream, pink, white, or yellow. The 3.5-inch-wide flowers are fragrant, but the best feature of this rose is its ability to withstand the South's summer heat.

    Bloom time is May, but the plant reblooms. There are both bush-form and climbing noisettes, and sizes vary greatly. For example, 'Crepuscule,' which has quite fragrant, double, apricot flowers, is a climber that reaches six to 12 feet in height.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Drains well, kept consistently moist, slightly acidic