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December 24, 2023

Deep pink Centifolia Heritage Rose

The terms old garden roses or heritage roses generally refer to those established before 1867, remember that date. The rule, however, is not hard and fast and other varieties can fall into this classification. Sometimes called heirloom roses or even old-fashioned roses, these rose bushes have a lot to offer. Roses date back to ancient times and evidence of roses from as early as 1400 BC can be seen on frescos and jewellery.

The popular modern roses we most often see in gardens or the local gardening stores owe a lot to these elegant Grande dames. The significance of the 1867 date is that it was in this year that La France, the first official modern rose was introduced.

We take a closer look at the many wonderful varieties and why these heritage roses still deserve pride of place in today’s gardens or bedding displays.

Here we will discuss the following important aspects of heritage roses:

Heritage Rose Details



Common Name

Heritage, Old Garden or Heirloom

Plant Type

Rose Bush or Climber

Light Requirements

Full Sun

Ideal pH

5.5 to 7


3 - 7 feet


2 - 4 feet

Bloom Colors

White, Cream, Pink, Crimson-Red

Flowing Habit


Foliage Color

Gray-green foliage

Blooming Season

Spring to Early Summer



Suitable for Containers


Maintenance Requirements


Growing Zones

Propagation Method


Practical Use

Bedding or Climbers

The History of Heritage Roses

Given that roses have been around since before 1400 BC, the year 1867 is quite recent in their history. Most of these early roses can be traced to European and Mediterranean beginnings. Their popularity spread to ancient Babylon, Greek, Roman, and Islamic gardens.

With the increase in world trade and the influence of East Asia, some more recent roses were developed. Many of these, however, are still referred to as heritage roses. English and American breeders, among many others, have also made a significant contribution to modern hybrids over the years.

What Makes Heritage Roses Special?

The first aspect of these roses that stands out is their powerful and delightful fragrance. Sadly, many of the modern hybrids, while often producing spectacular blossoms, lack the classic and astounding fragrance that is notable in Heritage or Old Garden Roses.

Another point is that these rose bushes are extremely undemanding, putting pay to the common current misconception that roses are delicate and fragile, or difficult to care for. If you want a hardy rose, an old garden rose will not let you down.  They are highly disease-resistant and can handle a range of temperatures.

Heritage Rose Growth Habit

Most are erect, tall roses that stand proud. Many varieties make excellent climbing roses although even these can be pruned back and shaped according to your needs.

Heritage Rose Flower Structure

While lacking the compact and tight blossoms of many modern hybrids, you can expect impressive double-flowered roses. The typical shades are white, a range of pink, and striking crimson to red flowers.

Heritage Rose Fragrance

The roses have a lot to offer but their remarkable fragrance must be one of their most outstanding features. This is the main reason they were prized and cherished in many parts of the world. They offer a range of delectable scents that are a pleasure to experience.

Heritage Rose Applications

They are ideal for bold bedding statements, especially when a few are planted in groups of 3 or more. Depending on your pruning habits they can grow tall so factor this when deciding where to plant. Most prefer full sun, but many can handle partial shade.

Given their beauty and astounding fragrance, they make exceptional cut flowers. The downside is that they only bloom once a year so you will sacrifice the beauty in the garden.

Heritage Rose Growing Zones

Early roses were grown in many parts of the world, so they are relatively resilient to low and high temperatures. The ideal zones, based on the U.S. hardiness zones are 4 to 6. Albas are happy in zones 3 to 9.
Note: For more information on growing zones see our detailed article here:

Planting Heritage Roses

It is important to start with a plan. Base this on the space and height of the roses, color schemes, and other plants in the area. While a quality rose can stand alone, they make more of an impact in groups. You can mix and match roses but pay attention to the soil requirements.

Many heritage roses grow in long arches so will either need support or pruning. A bit more planning is required for the many climbers available. You can use a fence, a trellis, a pergola, or an arbor.

Heritage roses can do well in pots if necessary but they tend to prefer sinking their roots into the soil. If you do want to plant them in containers, ensure they are large and allow for plenty of root growth.

Watering Heritage Roses

Although these roses are much more tolerant to water conditions you will still need to follow the basic guidelines for maximum return. First, let the weather guide you. Water more when you experience long hot periods and less when it has rained, or temperatures are cooler. As a general rule, 3 times a week should be sufficient.

Water gently but generously, roughly 2 inches per rose bush. Soak the base of the plant and avoid splashing the leaves. This reduces the risk of disease. New plants and those in pots will need to be watered more regularly.

Propagating Heritage Roses

You can grow your favorites very easily from cuttings. This will allow you to increase your collection and swop or share with others. The good news is that true heritage roses are not subject to patents (with some exceptions). You can follow our general instructions for growing roses from cuttings.  

Fertilizing Heritage Roses

Provided you have prepared the soil correctly and it has a decent amount of organic matter, you will need to use very little fertilizer. They are simply not as “needy” as modern rose varieties. A bit of organic fertilizer will enhance growth, particularly if you have soil concerns. Apply at the start of the growing season and do not apply after flowering, particularly if frost is expected. Water well after applying the fertilizer.  

Heritage Rose Pests and Diseases

A quality heritage rose that is planted in decent soil and gets a fair amount of sun does not need to be pampered. They will be highly resistant to pests and diseases. This is one of the many advantages of these roses.

That is not to say they are immune to any problems, merely that are less susceptible. A healthy plant will shrug off most bugs or diseases. The first protective measure is to inspect from time to time.

Pruning Heritage Roses

This differs quite a bit from the pruning practices of most modern roses. As heritage roses bloom once a year on the growth from the previous year you should prune them back as soon as they have completed flowering.

Another reason to prune them is to achieve the desired size and shape for the space they are in. Many varieties grow quite tall and will become unruly if not kept in shape.

Heritage Rose Cultivars

As discussed, several roses fall under the classification of heritage or old garden roses, each class with unique varieties. We mentioned a few in our article on rose varieties but many more remain.

White pink Felicite Paramentier Alba Old Heritage Rose

Felicite Paramentier - Alba

Pink Kathleen Harrop Bourbon Old Heritage Rose

Kathleen Harrop - Bourbon

Pink White La Ville de Bruxelles Damask Old Heritage Rose

La Ville de Bruxelles - Damask

Alba Roses

We covered:

  • Königin von Dänemark/ Queen of Denmark
  • Rosa ‘Alba' Maxima
  • Celeste or Celestial
  • Felicite Paramentier

There are many others worthy of mention:

  • Alba ‘Semi-Plena

This milky-white rose was one of the early favorites. Alba translates to white, and this was a popular choice. It is a large shrub with an appealing fragrance. The simple yet large blooms are impressive and elegant. 

  • Rosa 'Great Maiden's Blush'

Introduced in 1843, this attractive rose has won multiple awards. It is a large bloom with a pleasing and distinct fragrance. The petals evolve from white to light pink and then fade again. It has fewer thorns than many heritage roses. It can be used as a climber.

  • Blush Hip

The name will give you a clue as to the color of this stunning rose. It grows prolifically and delivers subtle yet glorious pink blossoms.

Bourbon Roses

The classic Bourbons we have discussed before are:  

  • Madame Isaac Pereire
  • Louise Odier
  • Zephirine Drouhin

There are so many more to appreciate. These include the following:

  • Souvenir du President Lincoln

This fully double bloom has a mass of more than 80 petals with a bold crimson color. The fragrance is complex and appealing. It grows vigorously and is considered a repeat bloomer.

  • Souvenir de La Malmaison

This variety has a subtly pink color on large blooms. They have a tea aroma. These roses do not grow as high as other heritage roses and are less tolerant of the cold.

  • Madame Pierre Oger

Also a medium-sized shrub, you can expective attractive pale pink, almost silver blooms that flower more than once. It has a deep perfume.

  • Kathleen Harrop

Practically thornless, this rose has pale pink blooms. It likes to climb or ramble where given the opportunity and puts on a pleasing display.

Centifolia Roses

We have already highlighted:

Fantin Latour


Chapeau De Napoléon

Other popular roses in this class are the following:


Blanchefleur is a delightful single-flowering rose with a sweet fragrance. The medium blooms have many creamy petals with a hint of blush in the middle.

De Meaux

One of the smaller of the old roses, De Meaux produces compact pink blooms. It flowers once and has a subtle fragrance.

Pompon de Bourgogne

The striking “pompom” flowers are a deep pink with many petals. The shrub is medium-sized and one of the better options for container growing or even as a hedge.

Damask Roses

These are the ones we covered before:

  • Celsiana
  • Ispahan
  • Hebe’s Lip
  • Leda

Here are a few more worthy of a mention:

  • Angelina 

This beauty has pink blooms with a white center. It produces masses of flowers for a spectacular display. The fragrance is subtle.

  • Blush Damask

The large pink petals on the double blooms are eye-catching. The flowers are large and have a powerful fragrance. This is one of the older damask varieties.

  • La Ville de Bruxelles

A pure and powerful pink specimen, this award-winning rose has tight impressive blooms. The roses are large and have a powerful fruity fragrance. It is a single bloomer and another good option if you want to grow heritage roses in pots.

  • Quatre Saisons

Also, a clear pink bloom, this rose has a spreading growth with grey-green foliage. The medium blooms are clear pink, and it is a repeat bloomer.

  • Rosa Damascena Semperflorens

Also known as the Autumn Damask, this fragrant rose has medium semi-double pink blooms that are present in bountiful clusters. It will also attract pollinators to your garden. This rose makes a great border option or a potted plant.

Gallica Roses

Here are the classic Gallica Roses we mentioned before:

  • Gloire de France
  • Charles de Mills
  • Belle Isis
  • Ypsilanti
  • Duchess de Montebello
  • Rosa Mundi

 Fortunately, there are many more to enjoy. Here are some more favorites:

  • L’Enchanteresse

This enchanting rose has a purple-pink bloom with a dash of lavender at the edges of the petals. The flower often has marbling adding to the beauty.

  • Sissinghurst Castle

This tough compact shrub will delight you with rich magenta-crimson blooms. It has a more sedated fragrance but puts on a beautiful show when in flower.

  • Tuscany Superb

The vibrant blooms are large and striking. The medium-sized flowers are rich magenta. It grows quite vigorously and is a fairly large bush.

  • Empress Joséphine

This lady is a medium shrub with bold pink blooms. It has a medium fruity fragrance.  It is a healthy-looking rose bush with abundant foliage.

  • Tricolore de Flandre

A medium shrub, this old rose will delight you with blooms that have magenta-purple striped petals. The blooms are large and semi-double with a pleasing fragrance.

  • Cramoisi Picoté

For something different, this makes an interesting addition to any rose collection. The small flowers are doble in a deep pink with crimson edges. It is a compact bush with rich green foliage.

  • President De Sèze

The lilac pink flowers are large and full. It is a medium-sized shrub and the flowers have a distinctive old rose fragrance.

  • Anaïs Ségalas

This beauty has large crimson, mauve flowers. It is a medium-growing bush with a subtle scent.  While the colors are impressive the flowers have a classic shape and structure. The foliage is light green.

  • Assemblage Des Beautés

The fragrance of this attractive rose is pleasant and powerful. The flat blooms are large and vibrant crimson. The reverse of the petals is silvery making for an appealing rose blossom.

  • Belle De Crécy

This is a larger growing single flowering beauty with impressive medium-sized cerise blossoms. It has an enchanting old rose fragrance.


There is no denying the fact that heritage roses are a worthy addition to any rose collection. They have so much going for them and best of all is that they are super easy to grow and maintain. The colors and fragrances simply add to the splendor.

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