This rule is the most important of all. I like varieties that make a nice-shaped, more or less thickly-foliaged, plant that looks good even without flowers. I look for disease-resistance in Central Kentucky’s muggy summers.
Here are great varieties to try first and information about them:
Nur Mahal. This is the plant behind the title banner of this blog, a hybrid musk (1923) that wants to grow about five feet tall by seven feet wide in my area of Zone 6. It has semi-double [seven to twenty] pinky-red petals per flower, and an established plant bears flowers in trusses or clusters of up to two dozen. They’re fragrant, and the plant is also thornless — really thornless. I’ve never seen a single thorn on my plant. What’s not to love?
Caldwell Pink. This rose is my favorite right now, a found polyantha that makes a beautiful shrubby bush, thickly foliaged with gorgeous matte blueish tiny leaves. Its flowers are lilac-pink, and it loves to bear the little one- to one and a half-inch very double pompons all the damn time in huge trusses of up to three dozen. It does have lots of very sharp thorns — hey, it’s a ROSE, people — and the leaves actually turn bronzy in the fall [Fall color is very rare among roses].