Habit and Form
Dozens of cultivars are known, plus there has been a recent resurgence in the number of new introductions. The descriptions presented here attempt to summarize the most common forms.
'Alexandra' (Wine and Roses®, probably the same as 'Victoria') - Many amateur horticulturists have been taken by this new form, which offers rose-red blooms amidst a backdrop of rich, glossy burgundy leaves. It appears to be superior to other purple-foliage selections. It grows 4'-5' tall. 'Elvera' (Midnight Wine) is a brand new plant that is basically a dwarf form of 'Alexandra'. It will mature under 3' tall, making it useful in small gardens.
'Brigela' (French Lace) - This is a new variegated form that is quickly entering the market. The green leaves are edged with a wide margin of lime green that contrasts well with the red flowers.
'Bristol Ruby' - This is an older cultivar very popular for its deep red flowers. It is upright-growing to 8' tall.
'Canary' - A form of uncertain parentage, this new selection is notable for its light yellow blooms that fade to pink or are mixed with pink flowers on the same plant.
'Candida' - This is one of the more popular white-flowered forms. The blooms are set against bright green leaves on an 8' spreading plant. 'Bristol Snowflake' is similar, but the blooms are slightly tinged pink and the plant is more vigorous.
'Carnaval' (also known as 'Courtalor') - One of the more unique forms available, this 4' tall plant offers profuse quantities of red, white and pink blooms on the same plant.
'Java Red' (perhaps the same as 'Foliis Purpureis') - An old, compact form that only reaches 4' tall and slightly wider, this plant bears deep pink blooms that open from reddish buds. The deep green foliage is tinged with purple-red.
'Minuet' - One of the smallest forms available, this plant only reaches 30" tall with profuse production of red-purple flowers. The leaves also have a reddish tinge. It has shown good cold hardiness.
'Pink Delight' and 'Pink Princess' - These are two improved, popular pink-flowering forms with blooms that do not fade. They are hardy and more reduced in size, to 6' tall and wide. 'Sunny Princess' is a variegated selection of 'Pink Princess' with a thin yellow margin on the foliage.
'Polka' - Considered by many authorities to be the best pink-flowered form, this Canadian development is reportedly hardy to zone 3. It is covered in late spring by deep pink blooms that adorn the arching branches to 4' tall and wider.
'Red Prince' - Hardy to USDA zone 4, this plant produces strong red blooms on an upright, 6' plant. It often reblooms later in the season.
'Rumba' - Another form with novel leaf color, this 3' compact selection offers yellow-green edged in purple. The flowers are red with a yellowish throat and are produced over an extended period. The plant has shown good hardiness.
'Rubidor' (probably the same as 'Rubigold') - Very popular for the contrast between flowers and foliage, this selection offers gold leaves and red blooms on a 5'-7' plant. The color of the leaves may fade somewhat in warm summer areas.
'Variegata' - This is a very popular selection that offers interest all season with leaves that are edged with a creamy white margin. The blooms are rose-pink and the plant is more compact and mounded, to 6' tall. 'Variegata Nana' is similar but smaller growing, perhaps to 3' or 4' tall.
'White Knight' - A popular white-flowered plant, this selection is also notable for its densely-branched, compact habit to 6' tall and wide. It may rebloom sporadically through the summer.