Rose Plant Information

Roses Buds


The following will explain many rose plant information. Budding is a term rosarians use when a portion of one plant is grafted onto the rootstock of another — as opposed to growing on the original plant’s roots.

This has been a fairly popular way of propagating roses, especially among commercial growers. You look puzzled. You’re wondering why?

Many commercial growers believe that roses just grow better using this method. First, the plants themselves take less time to establish their root systems.

And the growers enjoy a larger percent of roses thriving on the rootstock than they do with roses on their original stock.

The growers simply take the canes (or branches) from the one rose plant, cut off the bud eye at the junction of the cane and leaflet and then insert it under the bark of the cane of a rootstock plant. A simple, uncomplicated operation.

When the canes and foliage above the bud are cut off, all the plant’s energy is then focused toward making the newly budded eye grow.

Bud eyes from the desired variety have all the genetic material to create a new plant that’s identical to the original.

The point at which the bud is inserted into the bark of the rootstock plant is called the bud union. On mature plants, the bud union looks very similar to a knob. As the plant grows in your garden, though, new, large canes grow from directly above this bud union.

In the colder climates, the bud union is the portion of the plant that’s most important to the plant’s survival during the harsh, winter months. As you learn later, you’re going to plant the bud union several inches below the ground in the cold climate and then protect it by covering it with a mound of soil.

How to Bud Roses video

Rose Flower Petals


She loves me, She loves me not!

Hmm. Remember that old game you used to play with wild daisies? With each “she loves me” or “she loves me not” you’d utter, you’d pull a petal of the flower. The last petal told the truth. So how often did she really love you?

No one would ever dare play such a destructive game with a rose. Yet, the rose — depending on its variety — has a host of petals — sometimes too many to count.

And sometimes, they’re just unique. Take, for example, the famous Green Rose. Formally called the Rosa chinensis viridiflora, the flower of this rose is green. But, upon closer examination, rosarians explain that what appears to be petals of a bloom is actually a host of sepals.

The petals of the rose.

rose petals

Normally, a rose bloom is defined as having a minimum of five petals. But as you’ll soon learn from the vast varieties of roses, this is seldom the case. In most cases, roses have more — many more — petals than just five.

In some cases so many petals exist on a single bloom that there are literally too many for the bloom to open fully except in the hottest of weather.

In many cases, the number — as well as the color — of the petals are just so fabulous that even if the plant blooms only once during the summer. . . Well, it was well worth the wait just to witness this gorgeous flower.

The most common of the petal formations — and yes, there is some uniformity and commonality to these! — fall into three major categories: single, semi-double, and double or sometimes called fully double.

The single formation is explained in its name. It’s simply a single row of petals — and yes, the most usual number of petals is five.

The semi-double formation contains only two –sometimes three — rows of petals with 12 to 16 petals in all.

The double formation or fully double formation contains lots of petals. A bloom is considered as part of the formation if it has more than 17 petals.

Sometimes you’ll find several more formations. And this is where the names get a little tricky and can cause some confusion. Some rosarians call a fully double formation of any flower that has between 26 and 40 petals.

If you speak with other rose hobbyists be aware of this overlap in names. But some roses have even more than 40 petals (imagine the beauty!). These are normally called “very double.” (No, I agree it’s not a very imaginative name, but it fits the description!)

And then there’s the arrangement of the petals.

While we’re on the topic of petals, let’s go into just a little bit more detail. Because in addition to the classification of roses by the number of roses, these beauties are also classified by the arrangement of the petals as they unfurl. (Do you ever think that rosarians just love to classify things?)

But, it’s true. And this classification comes into use when the flowers are in exhibition.

Many-petaled rose flowers with great or formal form are often called exhibition roses. These blooms are gracefully shaped whose petals are symmetrically arranged in an attractive circular outline coming to rest in a high pointed center. Yes, indeed, it is really a thing of beauty.

The arrangement of this unfurling of petals is judged on the symmetry as well as the spacing of the gaps. The center of the bloom — for judging purposes — should be well-defined, rising high within the flower and pointed.

From the side, you should notice the natural symmetry of the structure. The petals unfurl — ideally – uniformly from the center.

The outer row of the petal should be as close as possible to a horizontal plane.

Of course, each variety has its own inherent characteristics, as you might expect. But each exhibition rose is at its unique perfect phase of bloom when it is between half and three-quarters of the way open.

When you’re growing a garden, decorative or an informal rose, the bloom itself is not held to quite the same high standard. The flower itself is not as well-defined as an exhibition rose, nor does it need to be as high or as pointed in the center.

Ruffled, sometimes called wavy petals, as well as cupped, those turned inward are accepted. This variety also has fewer petals than most of the other classifications.

If rose forms are so important, just exactly, you’re wondering right now what affects the formation of the petals themselves. Well, if you’re thinking that it’s mostly genetics, you’re right… to a point

Three of the most important factors — after genetics — in rose formations are climate conditions, cultivation and the exact weather conditions as well.

A rose of substance.

roses in a vase

Petals are also viewed and judged by their substance. This is defined by the petals’ stability and durability. Most importantly — and this should come as no surprise — substance is also judged by how long it retains its quality in a vase.

The substance of a rose petal also depends on the amount of moisture the petals have absorbed. But, perhaps most importantly, the substance is demonstrated in the texture, firmness, crispness, thickness, and toughness of the petals.

You can determine the substance of petals for yourself. Touch a petal. Go ahead, the chances are it’s not going to fall to pieces (not if it has any substance at least!). Is the petal thick? Look at it closely. A true petal of substance has an opalescent sparkle and sheen to it. And if it’s a red rose, it’ll have a velvety appearance to it.

The color of petals

Of course, rose petals are also judged by their colors. The elements that contribute to the petals degree of cover are . . . dare I say elementary. As you can imagine the bloom whose petals are bright, clear and vivid are usually prized more than others.

But in addition to that, the hue of the color is a factor as well. This factor includes the visual impact the petals have on the eye as well as how it distinguishes itself from other colors.

To this end, rosarians refer to something called chroma. This is the intensity and purity of the hue. Ideally, the petals should have no gray or white in their hue. And in fact, the idea petal of substance would be an amazing blend of brightness and chroma.

What is in the Name of a Rose?


Here’s a piece of trivia I bet you didn’t know: roses are the third-largest plant family. It’s true! What is in the name of a rose? It would be extremely difficult for it to become the third-largest family if it were as difficult to cultivate them as their reputation leads you to believe.

But the more interesting point is the various members of the rose family you can find around us all the time. Like what?

Well, the “rose family” includes such plants as apples, cherries, raspberries, and many ornamental landscape plants!

Wild roses generally have two names (no not quite a first and a last name like people!). Each wild rose has a scientific or botanical name with at least two parts, sometimes more. These names are always based on the Latin language. In addition, each wild rose also contains a common name as well. For example, there’s the Rosa eglanteria — the plant’s botanical name. Its common name is eglantine.


There are times when changes occur naturally in the plant. A normally red-flowered rose, for example, may suddenly sprout a white-flowering seedling. This is called a variety. When the variety is produced artificially as a result of something a person has done, it’s called a cultivar. While that looks like an impressive word, it’s really rose-language shorthand for the term “cultivated variety”.

This cultivar could have several origins. It may be the result of a hybrid. Technically, a hybrid is when the pollen of one plant is placed on the female reproductive parts of another plant. The results are seedlings with genes from both parents.

But the cultivar could also be the result of people who actively seek to reproduce roses through rooting cuttings. In this case sections of the stem of the plant they want are grafted to another plant.

Knockout rose

You can recognize a cultivar just by its name. They are usually only given one name (there’s not Latin-based scientific name linked with these plants). When you see a rose is named ‘Rainbow’s End’ or ‘Knock Out’ you know instantly that the final product is a man-made cultivar. You’ll also notice, as you learn more about your new-found hobby, that these single-named cultivars are always set off by a set of single quotation marks — never double!

If this particular man-made cultivar is sold in more than one country, then don’t be surprised to discover that it’s also known by more than one name.

Name of the Rose

But the name of the rose doesn’t end here! (Whew! Roses have more names than the FBI’s top listed Most Wanted!). The situation grows even more complicated if the flower is registered with the International Registration Authority for Roses, which by the way is a function of the American Rose Society.

If it is registered with this group, then it may also receive a “code name”. This code name starts with three capital letters that denote the hybridizer or the person who introduced the variety. Then, this is followed by additional lower-case letters. There’s a rose called the TANorstar. This code name is always the same — no matter in which country the rose is sold.


Names of Roses is Pretty Cut and Dry

After taking the time to describe all this, you would think that everything about the names of roses is pretty cut and dry. Oh, no! That’s just not the case, not by a long shot!

As you begin to read more, you’ll realize that names are really listed in many different ways in all sorts of publications.

Now that I’ve completely confused you and while you’re still scratching your head looking completely puzzled, we might as well plow ahead to one more point. Some older varieties of roses will have a common name as well. You can view these as nicknames. These have been adopted over the years and used so much that they’re just accepted, affectionate ways of talking about these particular roses.

Now that you’re wondering why you need to know all of this, I’ll tell you right now, sooner or later (and probably sooner) you will encounter all the names. And it very well could be the next time you open a rose catalog.

Many catalogs print all the possible names of the roses. This helps everyone to know what rose we’re talking about. The names are usually listed in the following order: fancy names; scientific names; common names and code names.

Here’s an Example of What I’m Talking About.

For the rose called “Alba Maxima’ you’ll find a listing like this. It has a fancy species and common names:

Synonyms are ‘Great Double White’, ‘Maxima’, Rosa alba maxima, and Jacobite Rose.

If the rose has two alternate fancy names and a code name, the entry looks like this:

Rosa Alba Meidiland

‘Alba meidiland’

Synonyms are ‘Alba Meilandecor’, ‘Meidiland Alba’; MElflopan.

With all the thousands of roses in the world and all the names just one rose can be given, it’s no wonder that the rose experts use various methods to group the roses as well. Now you know what is in the name of a rose.

Choosing The Right Rose For You

Shrub Rose Westerland

Shrub Rose Westerland

Boy, I bet you never dreamed there was such a variety of roses. You still look a little overwhelmed from all that we covered from the last chapter. With such an array, how do you decide which rose is right for you?

Allow me to help a little with that. First, you’re probably tempted, as I was in the beginning years of my rose-growing days, to just run down to your local nursery and buy the species of rose that you feel is the most beautiful. I can’t blame you there.

But you should place more thought than that into it. After all, you do want to get the absolute best results you possibly can from both your investment in money and the future investment you’re making in time. You know, the tending to the flower, the watering, the fertilizing, and the talking to!

Even though your heart is saying run out and buy the first rose you see, your mind is saying, “Let’s do a little research.” Listen to your mind on this one.

Peace Rose

And let’s start with just a few traits you should look for when you’re purchasing a rose.

Think about these questions before you buy your plant:

1. For what purpose do I want the rose?

By this question, I mean where in your garden are you planning on putting it. Will it be in a container? Will it be part of a flower bed or border? Or perhaps you’re thinking more of creating a hedge with the rose or having it stand as an arbor.

Good Choice

2. Am I going to cut the flowers for arrangements?

3. How much space can I realistically devote to the flower?

If you have a smaller garden, then you’ll be considering purchasing what’s called “compact” roses. This will keep the roses in an approximate scale with all your other plants.

If your garden is larger, than, of course, you want the larger varieties of roses.

4. What colors would I like?

Are you searching for bright colors in your plants, like the reds, the oranges, the golds or even the stripes? Instead of bright, you may opt for the flowers in the pastel range.

5. How important is the fragrance of the rose to me?

rose fragrance

For many people, the fragrant scent of the rose is important. For others, they cherish the look. Would you be disappointed realistically speaking, if the rose you chose didn’t have a strong, aromatic scent?

6. Realistically, how much time am I willing to invest in the maintenance of this flower?

You may have the time and the energy to get intimately involved with your rose plants. If that’s the case, hybrid tea roses would be a good choice. This particular type of rose requires careful attention. It’s prone to disease and needs pruning.

But don’t give up on roses if you don’t’ have the time or energy for the “fussier” plants. Instead, search out a few that are easier to tend to. Believe me, they’re out there.

7. What are the growing conditions like in my yard?

Objectively evaluate your climate. In fact, when asking this question, you can turn to the USDA Plant hardiness Zone Map. This will help you make your decision about the type of rose that will thrive in your climate.

Up Close and Personal.

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, you certainly don’t want to choose your rose through leaving through photos on the internet or in books. I really don’t care how great of quality those photos may be, you’ll want to get up close and personal with the roses before you make your final choice. After all, when was the last time you “smelled a picture”?

Rose displays are available for the public in many metropolitan and botanical parks. And the advantage here is that the roses themselves are usually meticulously identified. Once you’ve spotted a rose that peaks your interest, you can jot the name of it down and see what kind of attention it needs. This way you can see if this rose actually suits the climate of your area and more specifically the needs of your particular yard and garden.

Care For Climbing Rose Bushes

climbing roses require Patience

What images come to mind when you think of climbing roses? A cottage tucked away in rural England, covered with blooming vines? Perhaps an old prestigious university with one of the lecture halls bedecked in this regalia? Or do you see a trellis of flowering climbing roses as an arch while the bride and groom exchange vows in a wonderful garden wedding ceremony?

Whether it’s any of these or another, no one can certainly fault you for including climbing roses in your personal garden. The secret to raising climbing roses though can be summed up in a single word: patience.

That’s right! You see this particular variety of rose may take several years to reach maturity. You may get frustrated by this, because very often the climbing rose is also placed and designed to be the “centerpiece” if you will of the garden, one of the key elements.

To start with, you want to make sure that you’re starting out with the best possible choice. To that end, five factors exist that you must give careful consideration to. They are size, shade tolerance, disease, resistance, rebloom and basic aesthetics, in other words, color, fragrance, and any other personal preferences.

What about size?

large climbing rose climbing rose large : photo by James Insell

How much room do you have? That’s not a flippant answer to the question. I ask that only to get you to think about the space limitations, if any, with which you’re working.

Do you want a very large climbing plant, one that will climb upwards of 30 feet? Or are you looking for a smaller, more delicate version of a climber to grace the door to your garden?

A common mistake among novice rose growers is to chose the climbing rose they love, and darn the size. They seem to have the mistaken impression that if the plant really wants to grow 20 or more feet, they merely have to cut it back to fit the five-foot area they have planned out for it.

Nothing could be further from the truth. You see, in many ways, roses like this one have minds of their own. For one thing, you’ll find that you’re nearly always pruning the poor plant, which in the end may only cause it fatal injury.

For example, I knew a person who once really only wanted a climbing rose that would climb a maximum of eight feet. But she chose a rose called the

Climbing Cecile Brunner
Cecile Brunner by Malcolm Manners

Climbing Cecile Brunner. As soon as she told me what she did, I realized she was in trouble with it.

The Brunner is known to climb tall and aggressively. Let’s just say that the Brunner has been accused of tearing the front porches off of houses with its large and overwhelming mass.

After a year of battling that monster of a climber, she realized her mistake. The following year she bought a Blush Noisette that fit her space perfectly. Unfortunately, she was never able to view the Brunner with the initial love that she felt before she purchased one of her own.

I’d hate for you to have an experience like that. Not only is it frustrating, but it’s disappointing to think your passion for a particular rose would be quashed like that.

Made in the shade.

Rose tree
photo Rose tree by T.Kiya from Japan

Yes, we’ve established earlier that roses like the sun — at least six hours of sunlight a day (I can see them now in a chaise, with the sunglasses on lounging along a beach!).

After you’ve determined the size you have available to allot to your chosen love, seriously consider how much sunlight the area receives. Don’t rule the area out immediately just because it may get some shade. Some climbing roses thrive in partial shade.

Some climbers, especially those that produce white, light pink, and light yellow roses can tolerate more shade than those plants which produce brighter and stronger colors (reds, oranges, and the like).

In fact, just about the majority of the Hybrid Musk Roses, which can occupy a space as small as six to 10 feet — are capable of withstanding up to half a day of shade. The particular varieties in this category include Buff Beauty,

Rosa Lavender Lassie
Rosa Lavender Lassie photo by Salicyna

Lavender Lassie, Kathleen, and Cornelia.

Again, don’t go knocking your head against that brick wall by trying to fill shaded space with a plant that needs sun and vice versa.


Madame Alfred Carriere climbing roses
Madame Alfred Carriere climbing roses in the shade

When choosing a climbing rose, the degree of its disease resistance is probably a more important consideration than with the lower-lying plants. Why? Are you really going to climb 10, 15, or 25 feet above the ground just to spray your plant to rid him of disease?

Give this some thought (you might not have thought this factor through completely yet). Not only would it be more difficult to apply any disease killing materials, but it would be nearly impossible to visually check the plant’s health status, as you do with other plants and roses in your garden.

So, it’s of vital importance that you begin with a plant that is hardy. Roses growing along a wall, by the way, receive less air circulation which opens them up to greater risks of disease. Roses growing in the shade may also experience more health problems.

Similarly, roses growing on a chain-link fence or on top of a trellis getting that full sun won’t experience nearly the number of fungal problems than roses on a north wall.

If you’re bound and determined to place your roses in a shaded area (it’s the only available area, which is more likely the case) then consider choosing one of the Noisettes, like the Madame Alfred Carriere. While these roses may not be extremely resistant to illness while young, they seem to acquire that trait as they get older.

Bloom and bloom again?

Felicite et Perpetue
Felicite et Perpetue photo by A. Barra

Now that you have those issues resolved, well, at least you’re thinking about them — let’s tackle yet another topic: the rebloom factor. Many climbing roses — especially the old Ramblers (the roses, not the cars!) bloom only once. They bloom in the springs. Other climbers, though, bloom from spring through fall.

Rambler Roses
Rambler Roses

If your climbing rose is taking center stage in a small flower garden, then you’ll want a flower that’s going to last for more than just a month or so.

On the other hand, if it’s going to be among an ensemble cast of a group of one-time bloomers, then that becomes less of an issue. If you’re looking for a single bloomer than, think of the Belle of Portugal, Kiftsgate,

lady banks rose
lady banks rose

Lady Banks or even Felicite et Perpetue. These once-blooming plants put more energy into vertical growth and far less into the flower itself.

There are some large climbers which are repeat bloomers, like the white Sombreuil. This plant, which can climb to more than 25 feet, is also quite healthy. You’ll be pleased with its rate of blooming if you provide it with enough water, fertilizer, and sunlight.


Finally, that brings us to color. And of course, that’s purely a matter of individual taste. I’m sure you’ll find some color that complements the other flowers you have in mind. Or, you could possibly choose the color of the roses, and pattern your garden around them. Yeah! Roses deserve that consideration, now don’t they?

Related How To article: 3 Methods to Plant a Climbing Rose

Standard Tree Roses

Please watch this 2:28 video with some very good info.

Sounds like an oxymoron? Think of the rose, your mind wanders to shrubs, bushes, climbing plants, even miniature blooms of grand beauty. But a tree?

Indeed, a tree! Think about it. Imagine your yard with a rose tree or two or more! Majestically imposing its presence throughout your land. You’d feel like royalty over your tract.

Standard Tree Roses

Perhaps you haven’t heard them referred to as rose trees, maybe you’re more familiar with them being called rose standards or standard tree roses. These plants have purposely been cultivated to resemble a tree.

Rose tree
photo Rose tree by T.Kiya from Japan
The physical appearance of the tree consists of a long, slender cane approximately three feet in height. This cane (you can for the moment consider it a trunk that has no foliage, like the trunk of a tree. It’s from this trunk that the rich abundance of rose flowers burst forth.
Created by Grafting

T grafting or T budding
T grafting. Photo from sv Anvandare Chrizz
T grafting or T budding. The tree is created by grafting two pieces of other roses to it. First, a graft is made at the top of the central cane to support the hybrid tree. Then a second graft is made at the rootstock or the bottom of the plant.

This creates a unique plant that more than one person has commented to make it look similar to a “lollipop.” In order that the central core can actually handle the weight of the grafted rose on its top, it’s usually staked. While normally this isn’t a problem, be careful if you’re planning on planting this tree in a windy area. It’s even more important then that you stake it.


Another important aspect to think about is the amount of sunlight this plant receives. This may sound strange because we talk about how much roses love the sound, but the large cane-trunk itself is quite susceptible to the sun. So much so, in fact, that some have actually suffered sunscald.

Winter Care

But summer is just one season, now isn’t it? How does this plant stand up against the winter weather? It indeed can, but you need to give it some care. The rose tree requires mulching the entire length of the cane. You can do this by physically relocating the plant during the winter months, or if you’re clever (or you know someone clever) creating a container of wire mesh to surround the cane and then fill this mesh container with mulch.

Care of Pruning

rose pruning
rose pruning needs to be done properly

You should also take into consideration the seasonal care this plant needs. Rosarians who choose this variety need to be diligent in pruning in order to receive just the right look. But don’t ever prune the center cane, the trunk. Just the flowering upper portion of the plant.

Just exactly how you prune depends on the type of rose sitting up there. You also should be aware that if you don’t prune it properly, you may accidentally create an uneven distribution of weight. That stress may easily break the stems. The other consequence of improperly pruned plants is the increased risk of disease.

Different species of trees?

It seems that increasingly commercial rose growers are trying their hands at providing rosarians with several species of rose trees. One of the most recent entries to this is called the double-decker rose true. It produces two layers of flowers. The first is on the top of the rose, as you would expect with a normal rose tree. The second layer, though, lies closer to the grand.

How to Prune Your Standard Rose video. (3:38 min.)

Related How To article: How to Prune Tree Roses

Rose Cuttings Propagation


If you’re like me, you may have envisioned nurseries growing rose bushes from seedlings. Or you may even think of them growing from smaller plants, like when you bring home small tomato plants. If that’s your conception — and it is for many who are just starting the hobby — you’ll be surprised to learn how roses really are bred.

Buds or Shoots

Buds or Shoots
Shoots Bud

For the most part, the roses you buy at most retail outlets today are grafted or more appropriately budded. This means that the buds or shoots of a specific rose are attached to the roots of a second rose. This second rose is called the rootstock.

Once attached, they grow together to create one plant. The point at which two parts are joined is referred to as the bud union. Later in this blog, I’ll refer more to this particular part of the rose.

Not only that but on most plants that you buy, you’ll be able to identify this section with relative ease. This point is usually slightly swollen. If for some reason, you can’t see this point and you know without a doubt the rose is grafted, you can safely assume the bud union is then the point where several main stems or canes join the base of the plant.

Top Growth

Canes which are attached either above or directly at the bud union are called “the top growth.” These are nearly always those of the desired rose. On rare occasions, a plant produces what’s called “sport”. This is a shoot with traits that differ from the rest of the plant. Traits like vigor, habit, or even flower color could be among these types of traits on occasion.


rose suckering
rose suckering

If the cane emerges below the bud union, it’s called a sucker. These are outgrowths of the rose which was used as the rootstock. If left to grow, the sucker usually crowds out the desired top growth. Most people remove these as soon as they recognize them. It’s best to snap these off where they come out at the root, rather than just cutting them off at the ground level. If you don’t do this, the plant is likely to continue to produce another sucker at this same point.

You may be confused at first by some of the other terminologies, rose lovers used to describe their growths. Once you get a handle on this, you get a better idea of not only what these individuals are talking about, but you’ll gain a better understanding and enjoyment of your gardening habit.

Grafted or Own-root

Once you’ve decided on which roses you’re planting, then you have a second choice to make — one you may not have thought much about up until now.

Are you going to buy a grafted or “own-root” plant. Either choice has advantages attached to it, as well as disadvantages.

Grafted plants are essentially the top growth of the desired rose attached to the roots of another rose — called the rootstock. This method of propagation allows the producers of these plants to quickly create a garden-ready plant. It also allows a better variety of rootstocks to suit a particular growing condition.

dr. huey rose
dr. huey rose from Arnold Stegall on Pinterest

Three rootstocks are among the most commonly used in the United States.

The first is called ‘Dr. Huey’. This one tolerates average to dry conditions and alkaline soil conditions.
The second is ‘Fortuniana’. This particular rootstock is well suited to hot climates. It tolerates nematodes that are soil-borne pests. It needs to be fertilized regularly and generously. You may also discover that it may take an extra year or two to settle into its new home as well as produce some good top growth. If you choose this type, then you need to be patient with it.

And the third type is called ‘Rosa multflora’, which adapted quite well to cold climates. Not only that, but it also tolerates acidic soil and nematodes well.

Fascinating and Frustrating

Now here’s the kicker, it’s what makes growing roses so fascinating and so frustrating at the same time. The same top growth grafted onto different rootstocks can perform differently. That’s why two roses with the same name but bought by different sources may differ drastically in their performance.

For the most part, you just don’t know which rootstock a plant has been grafted to. But, for the best results, seek out suppliers who can tell you what rootstocks they’ve used. Then they’ll be able to tell you whether the rootstock itself is suited to your area.

Own-root Roses

In the last few years, a new trend among rose growers have occurred. More nurseries offer roses propagated by cuttings. These cuttings, in turn, actually form their own roots.

Survive Winter

As you can imagine, this method has several benefits. First, many of these plants survive winter weather much better. They tend to live longer and their chances of developing the rose mosaic virus, a common rose disease is minimized.

If by chance, the cold weather kills the top growth of one of these plants, the odds are in your favor that new growth will actually sprout from the roots. And the good news here is that the new growth will be the same rose you originally chose.

This is in contrast to the grafted rose. When a grafted rose dies, the new growth will be whatever the rootstock was and for you, that’ll be a surprise. Chances are it’ll be nothing like your original choice.

You Decide

So now you have yet another decision to make in choosing your roses. Some rose hobbyists love the own-root roses. Others, however, feel the benefits of selecting the rootstock make the grafted plant a better choice. But only you can decide.

If you really can’t make up your mind (and while you’re new at this, you may not really have much of an opinion), why not choose one or two of each? In this way, you’ll have some experience with each kind.

Related How To article: How to Grow a Rose Bush from Rose Bush Cuttings

Knockout Rose Varieties

Knockout rose
Knockout rose is selling like hotcakes

It’s the latest entry into the rose family and its youth alone deserves a mention. I’m talking about the rose that has just about every rosarian talking: The Knockout Rose.

Perhaps the pure simplicity of this rose is what so inspiring to many. Indeed, its ease of growing is what attracts some. Either way, if you’re new to growing roses, it’s definitely a variety of rose you may want to think about adding to your garden.

Grows as a Shrub

The Knock Out rose grows as a shrub to about three feet tall and about the same dimensions wide. It products cluster of blooms — beautiful cherry red ones approximately three inches in diameter. And much to every rose lover’s delight, these blooms continue to repeat blossoming throughout the growing season. According to some rose experts, the Knock Out rose has one of the longest blooming flowers on the market today.

One Disadvantage

If this plant has a disadvantage, it’s the flower itself isn’t suited well to being a cut flower. It’s fragrance, moreover, is light and delicate, similar to the tea rose.

Developer, William Radler

William Radler

This new rose — which many have even called revolutionary, is not much more than 20 years old — a mere child in the ancient rose family. The developer, William Radler, sought a rose which would be a hardy repeat bloomer. His development began with nearly 600 seedlings a year grown under fluorescent lights in his basement.

Crossed The Seedlings

Then, 1988, Radler crossed the seedlings of a variety called the Carefree Beauty with the Razzle Dazzle. Both of these plants are hardy ones. By the year 2000, the hybrid had won the prestigious All-America Rose award.

It took little time for the Knock Out Rose to take the country by storm. In its first year on the market, it became the fastest-selling new rose in history. More than 250,000 were sold in that initial year alone.

Rosarians Discover It

Red Double Knockout Rose
Red Double Knockout Rose by Tony Alter Flickr

As this particular variety of rose matures, and more rosarians discover it, you can imagine how it will grow in popularity. In the meantime, Radler is wasting no time developing sisters and cousins of this plant. He recently introduced the Double Knock Out rose.

If you’re thinking about starting out your rose-growing experience with this particular variety, you still need to provide it plenty of sunlight. The rose can thrive in some light shade. The plant, like all roses, needs fertile well-drained soil.

Put Among the Low Evergreen Shrubs

white knockout rose
white knockout rose is a rarity

And as shrub roses, their appearance in the wintertime isn’t all that pretty. That’s a definite consideration when you’re deciding just where in your garden to plant it. You may want to plant it among the low evergreen shrubs. In this way, you’re compensating for its winter nakedness.

Just as with any other shrub rose, you’ll want to prune it just before the new growth starts as well as throughout the growing season to control its size.

Related How To article: How to Grow Knockout Roses

How To Transplant Your Roses

Admit it. You’re hooked. You’re hooked on just about everything about roses — from the sweet fragrance to the beauty of the bloom to the overall majestic look of the entire plant.

And now. . . well, you’re determined that you will become a rose grower. Yes, you’ve heard they’re hard to grow . . . needed lots of care . . . just the right soil conditions and indeed even the right climate. But, still, you believe that they’re worth every bit of “trouble” that people told you they are.

Adjust Your Thinking

Before we go any farther, allow me a small adjustment to your thinking. True, specific species of roses are climate-sensitive, soil sensitive, even sunlight sensitive.

But the glorious aspect of it all: So many species of roses exist that –with just a little bit of research on your part — you can easily find a rose that will not only survive in your garden or yard — but actually thrive!

The Secret of the Climate Zones

If you believe that you live too far north to plant roses, then you’ve failed to discover the secret of the climate zones. You may hear experienced rose growers refer to it as the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Its purpose is clear. Broken down into 11 different climate zones, this map outlines the climate conditions for all 50 states.

You merely need to consult the map, which by the way you can easily find on the web at USDA hardiness map, to discover the zone in which you live.

The next step — as you might easily guess — is to ensure that the roses you’ve chosen are suited for your specific climate zone. Many times, you’ll discover this as you research your choices. At least you’ll receive “hints.” The descriptions will tell you if the rose is overly sensitive to cold, or prefers cooler weather. If these descriptions match your region fairly well, then you know to continue your research.

However, if the rose you’ve come to love can’t stand the cold and you live far north, it’s best to abandon your quest in favor of a similar, but hardier rose.

Some descriptions of roses actually cite the climate zones in which they thrive — this makes your final decision straightforward. If you can find no such descriptions, then the process might come down to paying strict attention to the growing instructions even before you purchase your rose. And one last hint — buy them from a reputable nursery.

You’ll be sure to find what climate zones your chosen rose need. If any of the zones match yours — BINGO! — you’ve got yourself a rose for your garden!

It is truly overwhelming if you’re just beginning.

Literally volumes have been written about the basics alone of growing roses. And as I delve more deeply into your new-found love, you can explore more books . . . as well as more online resources. But, I would hate for you to be paralyzed with information overload.

I’m presenting the necessities to get you started — enough to give you confidence in the beginning, but not so much as to scare you off this wonderful hobby.

First, you’ll want to decide where exactly you’re going to plant your new flowers. Of course, this was one of the questions you’re already pondering, so it really comes as no surprise.

Sun and roses

Let me tell you what a rose really needs in order to thrive. Every rose — no matter its kind — need six hours of sunlight daily, and more the better, in order to develop to their fullest. I can see you looking up at the sky now. Even as I write this I look out my window and see a dreary, cloudy day. My initial thought is that my roses are being deprived.

Relax. While, yes, roses do need six hours of sunlight a day, it doesn’t have to be continual sunlight. This may seem hard for some of us in certain parts of the country to realize, but every segment of the nation receives some clouds now and then.

And to be truthful, some roses really appreciate an array of different sunlight. Many types appreciate the morning sun, then prefer some midday shade before they’re ready to take in another burst of the afternoon sun. Six hours of sunlight may seem like quite a bit, but when you break it up like I just have . . . it’s really not so much.

Now, if you really have your heart set on growing roses and you know you just can’t provide a space with a minimum of six hours of sun, don’t give up. Not just yet at least.

Yes, it is possible to grow roses in an environment that offers less than six hours of sun. But what you’ll need to do upfront is “experiment” with several types of roses to see which particular kinds fill your needs.

The key to making this work is not to be disappointed when your first choice fails the test — because in all possibility it just might. You need to keep looking for the “ultimate rose” for your garden.

If you receive less than six hours of sun . . .

Start with a species of rose noted for tolerating shade. These include the alba and hybrid musk roses. While you’re choosing at this point, include in your search those flowers that are a little hardier and more disease-resistant than others.

I mention this with good reason, it’s not just a recommendation I throw out there lightly. Roses that thrive in the shade sometimes are noted for being more susceptible to developing diseases. So if you can find a rose that both tolerate the shade well and can stand up to diseases, you’re increasing the odds of its survival.

Well-drained Soil

Roses don’t like soggy soil. It’s a fact. Despite the fact that roses grow best and are most beautiful when they receive a steady supply of moisture, they don’t grow well planted in soggy soil. Of course, most other flowers don’t either.

The places you don’t want to plant your roses are in those areas where the water tends to stand idle after a rain or those regions where the soil stays “squishy” under your feet for more than a few hours following a rain.

If you can’t find any areas like this around your house, don’t think you can’t raise roses. You’ll just have to improvise some. One way to solve this problem is by lifting the soil level through the building of raised flowerbeds.

Test your soil before you make your final decision

Specifically, you’ll want to know what the pH balance of the soil in which you’re planting your roses. If you’ve never done this before and are hesitant about doing this alone, then do what I did when I was unsure.

I called my local Cooperative Extension Service. Not only did they help me check the acidity and alkaline levels of my soil, but they gave me right-on advice about how to adjust them to make the soil “rose friendly.” They also helped me with adjusting nutrient levels in this area as well.

The level of your garden, I can’t emphasize enough, is a crucial step in ensuring the health of your roses. It’s much easier to take care of these matters before you physically plant your roses, then try to correct the situation while the roses are in the soil.

The Anatomy of a Flower

The Anatomy of a Flower
author, LadyofHats
Getting Acquainted With The Physical Characteristics of The Rose and The Passion Behind the Flower

I know! I know! This doesn’t sound very exciting. And it might scream at you to move on. But I assure you that sooner or later you’re going to return to it.

One of two things will occur (or perhaps both). You’re really getting into your hobby of growing roses — which by the way makes you a rosarian. Suddenly, you’re thrown in with other rosarians who are talking about the different areas of their rose plants. And you haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

So you turn to this chapter to learn the names of some of the more important parts.

Or, you’re really getting into your hobby of growing roses — and you realize you want to learn more about the anatomy of the plant you’ve come to love. BOOM! You find yourself revisiting this page.

I’m confident you’re going to read this page now or later — or now and later! While it may seem boring to you, learning all there is to know about roses can be the most engaging thing on earth, once you’re captivated by their beauty and fragrance.

What’s in a rose?

Let’s take a quick look at the entire plant from the roots on up, shall we?

The roots. These, as with any plant, act as the water supply station for the plant, taking up water and nutrients from the soil. Without a solid root system, your rose just won’t thrive.

Canes or stem. To a rosarian it’s a cane — to your average man or woman on the street, it’s simply a stem. Whatever you call it, it grows from the crown of the plant — just where the cane ends and the roots begin. Rose canes are usually spotted with thorns (which many a philosophy has noted!). But there are some varieties of roses which really are thornless!

Leaves and branching canes. These grow from a part of the rose called the bud eyes, the small buds that sprout at intervals along with the cane. You may not ever have noticed them before. But if you look close enough, you’ll indeed discover them.

The leaves are usually found in five-leaf leaflets. As the rose plant thrives, the new canes sprout from both the crown of the plant and from the junction of the cane and leaflets.

Flowers. The flowers of a rose plant are known by several names: flowers, blooms or blossoms. Take your pick!

Once a flower has finished blooming, though, it’s called a spent bloom. And as you’ll learn, it should be cut off. This action encourages repeat flowering. It’s also called deadheading.

The rate at which a rose plant can actually form a new flower in its place is called a repeat. Most of the modern roses — those developed after the nineteenth century are either everblooming or free blooming. This means that they are producing flowers nearly continuously throughout the growing season.

Rose stamen is the male part

Stamens. This is the male part of the rose, the portion that produces pollen. It’s made up of the anthers and a filament. If you look closely inside the petals of the rose you’ll see them. Very thin stems topped with rounded objects.

Anthers. Located at the top of the stamens, these parts are actually the pollen producers. This pollen fertilizes the ovules or eggs, located at the bottom of the pistil, which is the female portion of the rose located deep inside the hip of the flower.

And as you might guess from this, rose flowers can self-pollinate. But when this happens the offspring is rarely as healthy or as pretty as the original plant.

Sepals. These are the leaf-like structures covering the rosebud even before they open, protecting them.

Rose bud

The sepals open slowly to reveal the color of the developing flower. Finally, they pull away entirely, allowing the petals of the bud to emerge and unfurl.

Some rosarians consider the sepal an extremely attractive part of the flower, especially so when the feathery ends of the structure extend above the top of the bud.

When the sepals finally drop, allowing the petals to open, their beauty is many times still evident. They create a simply outstanding underpinning to a beautiful flower.

Rose is a Symbol

red and white roses

Rose is a symbol of secrecy, peace, and then today. A less popularly known symbol now, the rose is also a sign of a secret. In sixteenth-century England, for example, a rose was at times worn behind the ears of servants, tavern workers, and others, indicating the wearer had “heard all and told nothing.”

And in Germany, around the same time, diners who found a rose as a centerpiece on their table, knew they could talk freely. Think about it, we even have an expression “sub rosa” which literally means “under the rose.” Historians believe this phrase originated with the custom of carving a rose over the door of the confessionals in a Catholic church.

Even Medieval alchemists — those searching for a way to turn common substances into gold — adopted the rose as a sign of secrecy. They came to symbolize their highly-guarded secrets of their art.

Perhaps no other rose — is so intertwined with history, war and peace than that which was developed in the twentieth century. Its renown is legendary. And its story is, well, the stuff that blockbuster movies and best-selling novels are made of. But what makes this story all the more remarkable is that it’s true.

The Peace Rose

The Peace Rose

Its tale is not nearly as well-known as it should be. But, there is no better true-life story that epitomizes the hopes and relief of a world following World War II. I’ll not keep you in suspense much longer.

The year is 1935 — June 15 to be exact. The location, France. Francis Meilland and his father pollinated a rose. The following summer, they took a portion of its eyes to graft. By October 16 of that year, the first buds were opening.

Three years passed. It is now 1939 and it appears inevitable that Germany is about to invade France. Meilland sends the eyes of this plant to rose growers he knows in Turkey, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

One of the recipients was Robert Pyle of Canard-Pyle, a well-known and well respect rose distributor and developer. He not only propagated the plants Meilland sent him, but in turn, he sent the results to the American Rose Society for testing.

In 1944, Pyle wrote to Meilland. He told his good friend that he planned to release the plants with the end of the war. A naming ceremony was planned by the Pacific Rose Society Annual Exhibition on April 18, 1945 — the same day that Berlin fell. Pyle thought the name “Peace” would be an appropriate tribute.

At the same time, Dr. Ray Allen, secretary of the ARS sent each of the 49 delegates of the very first meeting of the newly formed United Nations (then held in San Francisco) a single, long-stemmed “Peace” rose and this note: “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

Did this rose actually inspire a world to negotiate peace? Probably not, but it symbolized hope for future peace. And where there is hope there is life.

And that brings us to today

Buying a dozen? While we may never know if we owe the classic dozen roses to our caveman friend, Ugh, we can say with just about certainty that the roses were grown by a commercial rose grower in huge rose fields in fairly temperate climates (Just try to imagine acres of roses!).

And if you bought your roses in the United States, then the odds almost guarantee that they were grown in one of these three locations: the San Joaquin Valley in California, in Texas or in Arizona.

Roses are grown in these fields for a full two years prior to being harvested. Then the plants are allowed to lie dormant are stored and then bare-rooted — basically, this means there is no soil on their roots — in huge, moist, refrigerated facilities to keep them fresh before being shipped to gardeners, nurseries and garden centers in winter or early spring.