While roses reward with their attractive blooms, their fragrance was one of the primary reasons for early cultivation. Roses are among the oldest of plants cultivated by people. Their uses span from cosmetics to medicine. Over 24 different fragrances can describe roses, including apple, lemon, spice and geranium. The best fragrant rose depends somewhat on preference, but some roses have a strong scent while others have none at all.
Though the common belief holds that the old varieties of roses have the best fragrance, this is not always the case. Many old roses, however, do have strong scents and rank among the best fragrant roses. Old roses predate 1867, according to the American Rose Society's standards. Some of the oldest types of roses include damask, Alba and Gallica and date back to the 1300s and 1400s. They have what many would consider the classic rose scent. The Alba Semiplena rose provides the scent for Attar of Roses. Other old rose varieties include Leda, Apothecary, Maiden's Blush and Maxima.
Hybrid tea roses gained popularity due to their double flowers and fragrant petals. Relatively easy to grow, they bloom during the entire growing season. You can choose from numerous varieties of colors and scents. The strongest fragrant hybrid teas include Double Delight, Elle, Mr. Lincoln and Memorial Day. All were winners of the All-American Rose Selections award, which seeks to recognize exceptional roses. The Double Delight smells spicy and sweet, while Elle's scent is spicy and citrus. Memorial Day and Mr. Lincoln both have strong fragrance hinting of old roses.
Floribunda roses, not typically known for their fragrance, have a few standout varieties. Floribundas grow in small bush forms with clusters of blooms. They have single and double petals. The most fragrant varieties include Scentimental and Honey Perfume. Both have a notable spicy scent and were also winners of the All-American Rose Selection award. Other choices for scented floribundas are Apricot Nectar, Angel Face and Cherish.
The grandiflora roses developed in 1954 from a cross between hybrid tea roses and floribundas. They grow tall and upright with clusters of flowers. Though a more frequent bloomer than hybrid tea roses, grandifloras require more care due to high susceptibility to disease. The most fragrant varieties include Queen Elizabeth, Sonia, Strike It Rich and Wild Blue Yonder.