QUESTION: What is the difference between a shrub rose and a bush rose? I’ve been looking at catalogs and they don’t explain. – Jenn W
ANSWER: To fully answer this question, we must first start by understanding the rose classification system.
The American Rose Society (also known as ARS) created three main classifications for roses. These classifications are old garden, modern, and wild or species roses.
As you can imagine, the old garden and wild rose classifications filled up pretty quickly. However, the modern classification didn’t fill up so fast.
When modern breeders entered the game of creating new rose varieties, they not only were classified as modern, but many were classified as a shrub variety.
A shrub rose is typically tougher and more hardy than other roses. These plants are also known for being low-maintenance and easy to care for.
When growing a shrub rose, you’ll notice they produce full blooms and are great for many different things. Some shrub roses make excellent ground cover, while others make a nice hedge.
Don’t assume that shrub roses will all stay in the form of a shrub. Some will keep this shape while others will climb and grow as tall as 15 feet.
To be a shrub rose, the plant can’t fall into another category. Common varieties of shrub roses are Knockout roses and Wiltshire.
The confusion comes into play when people hear the term “shrub rose” and “bush rose” used interchangeably. There isn’t a tremendous difference between the two which is why this is a common occurrence.
Bush rose isn’t an actual classification of a plant. It’s a term used to describe modern roses which are smaller than shrub roses. These plants are great for growing in containers and are an excellent choice for small growing locations.
However, this type of rose is more difficult to find in your local nursery. Bush roses can be a smaller type of shrub rose or even a hybrid tea rose variety. They aren’t contained to one subcategory of the modern classification.
Bush roses won’t usually grow taller than 6 feet which explains why they’re such a great choice for container gardens or small gardening areas. Popular varieties of bush roses are the Sunflare and Fairest Cape.
Hopefully this information has helped you understand what each of these terms mean and also helped you understand a little more about the rose classification system.
Be sure to do your research before growing roses and understand completely what the plant will need from you. Roses and their needs can vary greatly depending upon how they are classified.
Understanding what you’re getting into with each type of rose can make all the difference in your gardening experience.