Old Garden Roses: An Easy-Care Alternative to Hybrid Teas

High-maintenance plants do not thrive in our garden. As I wrote in a previous post about our new dahlia bed, we removed our hybrid tea roses a few years ago because they were suffering. They suffered from powdery mildew and black spot. They also provided the local deer with a lovely buffet. I don’t have any photos to show you of our failed rose garden. They were never photo-worthy. It would have been too depressing. What if I let you know about a type of rose which is resistant to disease? How about deer-resistant as well? Would that be a dream-come-true for you? It was for us. Here’s the story of how our fondness for Old Garden Roses began, and some reasons why you might want to plant some as well.

3 Amazing Reasons to Plant Easy-Care Old Garden Roses Pinterest image

1. Repurpose an Unsuccessful Garden Area

old garden roses dahlia bed
This is our newly-planted dahlia bed where the hybrid tea roses used to be.

So, yes, we did end up using the vacated rose bed for dahlias, which are thriving, by the way. One of the nice things about Old Garden Roses is that they don’t need a dedicated bed. Is our yard entirely without roses now? No, thank goodness. We ended up planting Old Garden Roses all over our yard in different locations. Although hybrid tea roses are the most frequently-used roses in bouquets, we now have our dahlias to use in bouquets. Read on to discover the additional benefits of planting Old Garden Roses.

2. More Disease and Deer Resistant Than Hybrid Teas

As our hybrid tea rose garden slid into decline, we searched for an alternative. We had read about Old Garden Roses being more disease-resistant and deer-resistant than hybrid tea roses. We wanted to get some facts. One glorious Saturday our family went on an outing to find some Old Garden Roses. We are very fortunate in our area to have an amazing company called Heirloom Roses, located outside of St. Paul, Oregon. In this haven for rose-lovers, many types of roses are available. We toured around Heirloom Roses to see if they had any options for us. While we were there, we toured their lovely test garden and chose a few specimens for our yard. Boy, did we get an education. Yes. Old Garden Roses are definitely less work to take care of than hybrid tea specimens.

3. Many Varieties to Choose From

Technically, according to a variety of sources such as the Fine Gardening site, an Old Garden Rose is a class of rose which existed before 1867. In 1867, the first hybrid tea rose was introduced. Those are the class of roses most people use for flower arrangements.

There are many varieties of Old Garden Roses, such as climbing roses, rambling roses, and shrubs. You may have heard them called Vintage Roses, Antique Roses, Damask, Gallica, or just Old Roses. Just because a rose belongs to the Old Garden class does not mean that new varieties cannot be introduced. Similar to hybrid teas, new varieties of Old Garden Roses can also be bred.

Decisions, Decisions

After a huge amount of deliberation and repeated touring around the test gardens, we made some decisions. We needed some deer-resistant plants growing on the north side of our vegetable garden bed, which was another smorgasbord for the deer. It would be the ultimate test of a rose’s deer-resistance. We settled on a rambling apricot repeat-bloomer called Ghislaine de Féligonde. Doesn’t that sound elegant? We purchased three. 

The Mystery Rose

We chose one other rose that day, and it was a bargain. Our young son chose a rose from the “Mystery Rose” table for $5.00. These roses had lost their tags, so we had no idea what we were getting. We chose a spot for it in the yard, planted it, and did nothing else. It grew, and grew, and grew some more. The delicate pink blossoms filled the yard with a lovely fragrance, and the deer left its glossy green leaves alone. This lovely rambler has been moved about five times to different locations in our yard and has thrived no matter where we planted it. We still do not know its name. When I searched the Heirloom Roses website for a pink rambler, I received 262 results. It’s still a mystery!

old garden roses mystery rose
The Mystery Rose

As for the other roses, the Ghislaine de Féligonde ramblers, they thrived as well. Recently, they were moved to different locations in the yard, away from the vegetable garden. They had done so well and grown so vigorously that we needed to move them to make space for the tractor to get into the vegetable garden to rototill.

old garden roses ghislaine

When I write “we”, I really must give credit to my hard-working husband. I rarely drive the tractor, and the heavy-duty moving of plants is done by him as well. He also does just about everything else in the yard on a regular basis. I mainly help in the summers. So I need to give credit where credit is due.

Regrets

Do I regret taking out our hybrid tea roses? Sometimes I do, especially one variety called Spice Twice. It was beautiful, fragrant, and a little more healthy-looking than the others. I noticed that it is difficult to find these days. If you are thinking about removing any of your hybrid tea roses, please just bear in mind that the varieties you have may not always be available commercially.

Overall, though, we have been spared a lot of guilt since we removed our hybrid tea roses. Is it easy to grow roses? Yes, if they are Old Garden Roses. The varieties we purchased have given us pleasure and have required little care. Sometimes they need to be trimmed back. It’s not the careful, nerve-wracking, delicate President’s Day weekend pruning I used to stress-out about with the hybrid teas, though. It’s basically a quick whacking and hacking, which is more my style. Sorry if that makes any of you cringe, but it’s true.

Are You Suffering From Hybrid Tea Rose Guilt Syndrome?

If so, you are not alone. There is help. If you have resigned yourself to not being able to grow a rose to save your life, maybe this post has given you some hope. Do you need to unburden yourself and share a sad hybrid tea rose story? Please feel free to do so. I will sympathize and empathize with you. Or are you one of those lucky people who can grow hybrid tea roses without much effort? If so, I’d like to know your secret.

Three reasons to plant old garden roses

Might Old Garden Roses Be an Option for You?

Options exist for those of us who are hybrid-tea-challenged. If Old Garden roses might be a possibility for you. Here are some places you may find some you like. Explore their online catalogs and allow yourself to dream.

Antique Rose Emporium: Located in Brenham, Texas, this company has a display garden open seven days a week at their retail garden center. A digital catalog is available.

David Austin Roses: Located in Shropshire, UK, this renowned company ships internationally. A free handbook of roses print catalog may be requested. The garden center and tea room are located in Albrighton, Wolverhampton.

Heirloom Roses: Located near St. Paul, Oregon, the company is under new ownership. The garden hosts Saturday Rose Academy gatherings. Roses are organized in different categories on the website for online ordering.

Rose Petals Nursery: Located in Newberry, Florida, this garden offers scheduled Open Garden days. Military discount given. Roses are organized into categories for easy viewing online.

Other Deer-Resistant Plants

One the best features about old garden roses is that they are deer resistant. If you are seeking more deer-resistant plants, check out my list of the best deer-resistant vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Avoid the disappointment of seeing your garden chewed to bits by planting things that deer avoid.

Are You Sold on Old Garden Roses?

If you like what you’ve read today, and would enjoy receiving my latest blog posts before they are shared anywhere else, please consider subscribing. You will also gain access to my free resource library, which includes a 14-page printable garden planner. Thanks for stopping by the Fluxing Well site, and may all of your gardening efforts meet with success!

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Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers on her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer gardeners, click on over to the Garden page.

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20 thoughts on “Old Garden Roses: An Easy-Care Alternative to Hybrid Teas”

  1. I dont mind the black spot or mildew.i am thankful no japenese beetles in seattle or i could not do roses.i have over 150 roses.all kinds.i love heirloom roses and the company.the antique rose emporium is another good place to buy roses.my problem right now is mountain beavers and rabbits.yard too big to put a fence .any ideas?

    Reply
    • Hair? We used to sprinkle hair from our boys’ haircuts around and on our roses. That seemed to help. Wow! 150 roses! Well done!

      Reply
  2. Your garden looks beautiful. And tje roses are definitely going to be a great addition to it. I really like the mystery rose, I see it for the first time in my life. Thank you for the details! 💗

    Reply
    • Monica,

      I’m glad you liked the post. I am so grateful for roses like the Mystery Rose, which grows so well. Thanks for your comment, and good luck with all of your gardening plans.

      Lisa

      Reply
  3. I love Heirloom Roses! Such beautiful gardens. My friend and I would visit every summer before attending the rodeo. I had quite a few of their roses planted in my front yard in Sandy. Thank you, Lisa, for the rose reminders- I must plant some here soon!:)

    Reply
    • Jenny,

      You were very generous to leave your roses behind when you moved. The people who live there are probably very grateful! Thanks for your comment, and have fun buying more roses from Heirloom Roses.

      Lisa

      Reply
  4. I love Roses. They are the most of the ornamental plants in my garden. I love them especially when they bloom. Good luck with your rose garden.

    Reply
    • Anthea,

      I am enjoying the old garden roses right now, as they are in full bloom. The dahlias we planted in our old rose garden are doing well also. Thanks for commenting, and enjoy your roses!

      Lisa

      Reply
  5. I love roses as well I never seen the “mystery rose” and I think it’s so beautiful. I love coming to your page because it gives me ideas for when I move into my house. I want to have a garden with flower and food. I have no clue where to start lol but your site is helpful. Thank you 🧡

    Reply
    • Adrienne,

      I’m so glad you think my site is helpful. I love it when people can use ideas they get from blog posts. Thanks for the kind words. You made my day!

      Lisa

      Reply
  6. Girl I live in the desert and literally every plant I’ve ever had has died, including all cactus and succulents haha BUT, the only thing that comes back every single year is the 3 rose bushes I planted! They are one hardy plant!!

    Reply
    • Jessie,

      Thank you so much for affirming that old garden roses can grow anywhere! That is a great testimonial. I appreciate your comment, and hope you enjoy your roses this summer!

      Lisa

      Reply
  7. Wow, so informative! I remember we tried growing roses when I was small, and the poor thing couldn’t even get past the pot. I love how you didnt give up on them.

    Reply
    • Rio,

      If you ever feel the need to plant roses again, maybe the old garden varieties would do better for you. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you can find a rose that will do well for you.

      Lisa

      Reply
  8. I love how detailed this is. I know you’re talking about your garden BUT I literally could apply so many of your words to my life. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kimberly,

      I often gain a lot of life wisdom from the garden. I’m glad that’s true for you as well. Thank you so much for the kind comment. I’m happy you enjoyed the post!

      Lisa

      Reply
  9. Our landscaper put in roses for us last year. We are not gardeners and communicated that to him. He seems to believe we won’t kill them. 🤷🏽‍♀️ While I am not sure what kind they are, because there was so much rain this spring, we neglected to prune them. And now that summer has seemingly come in overnight, I am hesitant to touch them, because I don’t want to mess up. They seem to be doing okay and looked really pretty at the beginning of the season (except for those woody, dead branches jutted out from them). Should I wait until the fall now to try to prune them? Or is it okay to take the clippers to them now?

    Reply
    • Vox,

      It is definitely okay to trim off dead, woody branches and spent blooms, if you like. For the main pruning, in my area, the Pacific Northwest of the US, many people prune around President’s Day in February. As for how much to trim, here’s an article you might find helpful:
      https://www.gardendesign.com/roses/pruning.html
      Thanks for your comment, and good luck with your roses!

      Reply
  10. I love roses, especially the old varieties. I see the mystery rose all the time in my locality but I haven’t a clue what it’s name is; it most definitely grows and grows and grows!

    Reply
    • The Mystery Rose is now is full bloom, and the fragrance just draws me in. It’s subtle, not overpowering, but so pleasant. Thanks for your comment! Maybe someday I’ll figure out the identity of the Mystery Rose. Have a great week!

      Lisa

      Reply

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