Rose Highlight – Floribunda

A close relative to the Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora in the Floribunda.
In fact, it is a cross between Hybrid Teas and Polyanthas.

The name Floribunda means abundant flowers, that should tell you a lot about this class. Each stem producing a cluster of large blooms. “Oh My!” a dark red Floribunda grown in my family’s garden can have over twelve blooms on a single cane. Who needs to buy a bouquet with this rose around? Its only downside? That rose doesn’t have any fragrance.

A rose with fragrance is “Julia Child”, the 2006 All-American Rose Selection Winner - the most prestigious rose award in the USA. A butter-yellow with a strong anise scent has an old garden bloom form and blooms in small clusters. It’s heat tolerant and a common parent plant for many modern roses. Some other fragrant Floribundas are; “Honey Perfume” a beautiful apricot rose with a strong spice fragrance (plant this in a cooler spot), “Moonsprite” and “Sunsprite” are cream with a gold center and deep yellow respectively with a strong myrrh fragrance.

Then there is “Scentimental”, a red with white stripes. Now opinions very on its fragrance, some say it’s mild, others strong. Some say it has a damask scent, or myrrh, or spice. If you have this rose or have had the chance to smell it, I would like your opinion. “Scentimental” is also the first striped rose to win an All-American Rose Award.

The first polyantha/hybrid tea cross was “Rödhätte” (Red Riding Hood) introduced by the Danish breeder Dines Poulsen in 1907. In the beginning, they were called Hybrid Polyanthas or Poulsen rose but in 1930 Dr. J.N. Nicolas, a hybridizer for Jackson & Perkins coined the term Floribunda. Tom Carruth and Reimer Kordes are two hybridizers well known for high-quality roses that have bread many Floribundas over the years, some of their roses are in this article.

Often being stocky and compact with rigid shrubbery, Floribundas are well mannered in the garden. They need minimal upkeep to stay looking nice and most do well in harsh climates. The can be found in large bedding schemes in public parks, schools, and other similar spaces. “Iceberg”, the most common rose used in landscaping in California, is a floribunda. Like Hybrid Teas, they are repeat bloomers and because of their large sprays Floribundas give a better floral effect in the garden.

They are also known for their colors. Looking for stripes try; the striking red, orange, white, pink “Frida Kahlo” with its sweet scent and glossy foliage, or the highly disease-resistant salmon-pink splashed with cream “Grimaldi”, dark orange with terra cotta stripes “Tawny Tiger” that at a glance looks like a hibiscus, and if those colors aren’t for you try “Purple Tiger” a striped, splashed, freckled purple and white rose with a sweet citrus scent.

“Garden Delight” is a multi-color blend of deep pink with a yellow center that has a high center and the more sun it gets the more intense its colors to become. Another multi-color blend is “Nicole” a crystal white rose with a dramatic pink blush towards the end of the petals. Then there is “Sheila’s Perfume” a winner of the Royal National Rose Society’s Edland Medal for Fragrance, with its clear yellow overlaid with cherry-red.

The easy to spot red with a deep yellow reverse “Ketchup & Mustard” is also a Floribunda. Another reverse rose is “Mandarin Ice” with brilliant orange-red petals that are cream underneath.

There is eye-searing apricot-orange “Sierra Lady” that is set off nicely by its glossy green foliage. The ‘oh boy my eyes’ “Grape Jelly” that is super unique for a floribunda being a short climber with mini blooms. It does well as a potted plant and really likes it hot!

Want something more muted? Try the chocolate/lavender “Koko Loko”, the rusty red-orange and smokey lavender “Cinco de Mayo”, the chocolate orange “Hot Cocoa” with its fruity/spicy fragrance, or smokey purple “Plum Perfect” that performs well in heat and humidity. Another eye-catcher in the garden in the dark, deep, dusky purple “Ebb Tide” that also has an intense clove scent.

Floribundas are, on the whole, small to medium height (2-4 ft). During the spring prune, you only have to cut back one-third of the plant. Take out old, dead, or diseased wood and remember to cut 1/4” above an outward-facing leaf node. (If you cut above an inner- or side-facing one, you’ll produce a cane that grows in that direction, restricting airflow through the plant.)

They are often grafted and grown on rootstock. I have the same advice as before; when buying, check when the cultivar came out and if it has a good disease resistance history. If they are an earlier rose or have a poor history, buy them on rootstock. If the rose is more modern or has a good record, then either option should be fine.

By Jessica Lyle