What are the standards ??

I just got back from the San Diego convention and must ask you this: At his talk on Floribundas, Jeff Wycoff seemed to indicate that the famous shape of a hybrid tea is lacking (and should be lacking) in a Floribunda. What are the standards that make a Floribunda different from a Hybrid Tea, when some HT’s bloom a lot and can be smaller. Sheila’s Perfume, for example looks like a Hybrid Tea, but (although tall) is called a Floribunda. Barbra Streisand was originally called a Floribunda, then the classification was changed to a Hybrid Tea (although she still makes lots of candelabras as well as some flowers being borne singly). Where do we find the rules?? How can we know what we are doing without knowing the standards?? Did I just misunderstand Jeff?? Thanks in advance, Linda Sun

The short answer is that there are no rules. When a hybridizer registers a rose with the IRAR (International Registration Authority for Roses), they can put it into any classification they wish.

A longer answer is that all systems of rose classification are arbitrary. The characteristics used to define rose classifications form a continuum, rather than segregating roses into discrete groups. What is a miniflora to one person might be a miniature to someone else, or even a floribunda to a third person. It would be nice to see some guidelines from the ARS or IRAR, but even if that happens, classification will be subjective, because roses grow differently in different climates. For example, in New York, an English Rose might be classified a shrub by the guidelines, while in California it might be classified a climber by the same guidelines.

The roses in the three ARS classifications floribunda, hybrid tea, and grandiflora would generally fall into the two RNRS classifications large-flowered roses and cluster-flowered roses. There isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between the ARS classifications and the RNRS classifications. Some people think that floribundas shouldn’t have hybrid tea form, but others think that when it comes to classification, the growth habit is more important than the flower form. Form is pretty subjective. How hybrid tea-like must the form be for the rose be considered a hybrid tea? The RNRS classification attempts to be more objective. It emphasizes the size of flowers and the number of flowers per stem, rather than the form of the flowers. It is still a pretty subjective system.

In the case of Sheila’s Perfume, I think what happened was that it was originally introduced in the UK where it was classified as a cluster-flowered rose because it blooms in clusters. When it came to America, it was classified as a floribunda because in general, the RNRS cluster-flowered class corresponds to the ARS floribunda class.

Thanks, Jim.


Good reply to Linda. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the ARS to come up with the criteria of what constitutes the different classes for registration purposes. They will, however, develop the criteria for how to go about judging them, and then changing those judging elements from time to time as we have seen so often.

What might be a good project for the RHA would be to develop some basic criteria for consideration by the IRAR, the RNRS, the ARS and others as a start point for hybridizers to use when they select a classification during the registration process. I know we have a full plate now, but this could be something that would be very useful particularly if there were input from hybridizers in other countries.

Missed you at the RHA meeting in San Diego – hoped you would be there, so look forward to another time.

John, that would be a worthwhile project for the RHA. If the IRAR gets around to it first, I hope they solicit input from hybridizers.

I wish I could have gone to San Diego and seen you and Mitchie and the others. I had a hand injury this Spring, and I’m so far behind on everything that I just didn’t have the time.