Sometime around the middle of the century, a French nurseryman rescued a
rosebush discarded from a local public park. The discarded bush was a curiosity
-a Chinese import -and from it the nurseryman bred a group of seedlings. These
proved to be tough and vigorous but also compact.
Typical polyantha roses are low-growing, compact, continually blooming plants with extreme
winter hardiness. The small, informal flowers cover the plants in large sprays. Use
polyantha roses for bedding, low hedges, and foregrounds. Although now largely surpassed
by their bigger and showier relatives the floribundas,
several polyanthas are still worth growing.
The polyanthas, also turned out to be generous
rebloomers that bear repeated flushes of small ( 1 -2 in [2.5 - 5.1 cm])
throughout the summer and fall. The flower colors are
delicate -creams, pinks, and golds -and the
foliage is notably disease resistant. This
characteristic, combined with their tolerance for alkaline
soils and intense sun, has made the polyanthas
superb roses for the Southeast and Southwest.
Many are quite cold hardy and flourish
into southern New England, southern Canada,
and the milder regions of the Rocky Mountain
West. Polyanthas also perform well in the
Perfect for containers, polyanthas are an
obvious choice for any situation in which a compact
plant is desired. Their dense, mounded shape also
makes them a natural for formal gardens.
- 'Cecile Brünner' Roses (Introduced - 1881)
- The small, exquisite, coral pink buds of 'Cecile Brünner' rose have
made it the quintessential boutonniere flower. Growing in
clusters, the flowers open into something like a hybrid tea blossom
just 1-2 in (2.5 -5.1cm) in diameter. The fragrance is light but
distinctively spicy, and the stems are smooth and brownish purple.
The thorns are few but sharp and hooked, to grab the careless.
The foliage is a smooth dark green.
You'll recognize this rose as soon as its buds start to open.
These are the pink roses you've seen on old-fashioned valentines,
and a spray of 'Cecile Brunner' "sweetheart roses" is still the
ultimate romantic gesture. In addition to the original compact form of
the shrub, there is also a climbing form, which in mild climates can
reach a height of 20 ft (6m). Both thrive in the Southeast and
Southwest and flourish even in poor soils and partial shade.
- 'China Doll' Roses (Introduced - 1946)
- This variety is perfect for containers or for low edges or borders, as it grows only 1 to 2
feet high. The large sprays of small (1- to 2-inch), fluffy, pure pink
blooms with 24 petals can literally cover the mounded plant and
bright green foliage.
- 'Gabrielle Privat' Roses (Introduced - 1931)
- Large pyramidal clusters of 30 to 50 semi-double blooms
are produced on the neat, low-growing plants of
'Gabrielle Privat'. Flowering begins in spring and continues in great profusion
through fall. Individual blooms are carmine-pink and 1 1/4 inches across. They are attractively
displayed against lush bright green foliage.
The bush has a full, mounding habit and requires little
pruning except to thin and remove dead growth. Plants of
'Gabrielle Privat' are rugged" and tolerate a wide range of
soils. A good choice for small gardens or for massing, they
are also pretty in containers.
- 'La Marne' Roses (Introduced - 1915)
- Sporting almost thornless canes with dark, shiny leaves, 'La
Marne' rose makes an easy-care landscape shrub or hedge plant. This rose
produces loose clusters of cupped, semi-double, blush pink flowers
repeatedly through the season, and the blossoms show up well
against the dark green, shiny foliage. Not only is the foliage
handsome, but it is also healthy. In fact, its extraordinary resistance to
fungal diseases makes 'La Marne' rose an excellent rose for the hot and humid
Southeast. This rose is vulnerable to cold. Large
for a polyantha, 'La Marne' is too expansive for most containers.
- 'Margo Koster' Roses (Introduced - 1931)
- The double blooms of 'Margo Koster' rose are globular and 1 to
1 1/2 inches across. Borne in sprays, they are somewhat
variable in color, ranging from salmon pink to orange. They
have little fragrance. Plants commence blooming late in
the season and repeat well through fall. A climbing sport
is available. Leaves are gray-green and semi-glossy. Canes
bear few prickles.
This rose is bushy and compact, and is often grown as a container plant for both
indoors and outside. This rose is
- 'Marie Pavié' Roses (Introduced - 1888)
- With pink buds that open into clusters of fragrant, creamy
white, semi-double flowers (each only 2 in [5. 1 cm] wide),
'Marie Pavié' rose is both dainty and charming when in bloom -and
it's generally in bloom from late spring right through to fall. This
rose is also versatile: with some pruning, this rose makes an excellent container
plant. Left to grow unchecked, a row of them can create a handsome low hedge.
And because it is free of both thorns and diseases, this is an excellent rose to
plant in the kitchen garden.
- 'Perle d'Or' Roses (Introduced - 1884)
- The alternate name for this rose, 'Yellow Cecile Brunner',
underlines the pronounced resemblance of this rose to its polyantha
relative. But whereas the flowers of 'Cecile Brunner' are pink, those
of 'Perle d'Or' are, as the name suggests, touched with gold. This
rose's tiny, pointed buds are a warm apricot; they take on a buff
tone as they open, then gradually age to a golden pink. The fully
opened blossoms spread into little pompons with a pronounced
perfume; they keep their color better if the rose is set where it
receives some afternoon shade.
The size of this shrub varies with the climate. In most gardens,
this rose will reach a height and spread of about 4 ft (12m), but at the
northern edge of its range it will be smaller, and in the Deep South
it is liable to prove considerably more expansive.
- 'Pinkie' Roses (Introduced - 1947)
- Flowers of 'Pinkie' have 14 to 16 petals that are rose pink
with a salmon blush. These form a cup-shaped 1 1/2 - to 2 1/2-
inch semi-double blossom. The flowers occur in large
clusters in spring and repeat in fall; they are heavily
fragrant. Leaves are soft green and glossy.
'Pinkie' is small and bushy, with a width often equal to its
height. Useful in the foreground of a bed or border, it
also makes a fine container plant. This rose is tolerant of
partial shade. A climbing sport, which grows 6 to 12
feet tall, has thornless canes that are easily trained on fences and trellises,
although it can also be grown without support as a graceful shrub or hedge with
- 'The Fairy' Roses (Introduced - 1932)
- A delicate-looking but tough little plant, 'The Fairy' rose is the only rose
of this class recommended for northern gardens. This cultivar begins flowering
late in the season, but after the first blossoms open, it remains in bloom more
or less continuously until cold weather arrives in late fall, long after
most other roses have passed their peak. Its low, arching habit
adapts well to the front of a border, or plant in large groups for a
grand effect. 'The Fairy' rose is often sold as a standard, or tree rose.
- 'White Pet' Roses (Introduced - 1879)
- 'White Pet' rose is a profuse bloomer with small, creamy
white buds touched with carmine that open to rosette type double flowers. Appearing in large clusters, the
flowers are borne continuously throughout the season and
are well displayed against abundant dark green foliage.
Plants are small and round, up to 2 feet with an equal
spread. Their neat form and free-flowering nature make
them good candidates for edging or for incorporating into
beds or borders. 'White Pet' is also perfectly suited to
growing in containers and is a good source of flowers for cutting.