How to Grow Rose (rosa species)
- Plant: shrub
- Hardy to 10degC
- Height: to 2m
- Soil: moderately rich, moist
- Exposure: sun
- Propagation: cuttings
- Uses: fragrance
Roses are perhaps the best loved and most widely planted shrub in
temperate parts of the world. For an herb garden the most frequently
planted ones are the old roses—particularly damask, cabbage, and sweet
Cabbage rose (R. centifolia) has prickly stems growing to 2m. Pink to
purple, very fragrant double flowers bloom in the late spring and early
summer. R. C. muscosa or moss rose has flower stalks and bases covered
with hairy green "moss." The flowers are mostly double, and pink, white,
or red in color, and have an intense old rose fragrance.
R. damascene, the old-world damask rose, grows to 2m and has pale
green foliage. Double blossoms appear in large clusters and are very
fragrant. Colors range from pure white to red. The species flowers only
in spring, but some of its varieties will blossom repeatedly through
summer and fall. The variety called Kazanlik (R. d. trigintipetala) is
grown in vast quantities in southeast Europe for its flower petals which
produce attar of roses.
R. eglanteria or sweet briar is a vigorous climber to 1.5-3m. The
stems are prickly and covered with dark green fragrant leaves that smell
like apples. The single flowers (4cm across) appear singly or in
clusters in the late spring, followed by reddish orange fruit. Plant
1-1.3m apart fora hedge and prune once each year in the spring.
R. gallica (French rose or "Apothecary's Rose") has 1-1.2m tall stems
growing from creeping rootstocks. The leaves are smooth and dark green.
The flowers have an old-rose fragrance and are about 6cm inches across.
They are pink through slate blue and purple, often mottled.
R. rugosa, Ramamas rose or Sea tomato is a vigorous hardy shrub growing
to 1-2.5m tall. The leaves are bright, glossy green and have distinctive
heavy veins which give them a crinkled appearance. Flowers are 5-10cm
across and are single or double and pure white through pink and deep
purplish red. The bright red fruit is an inch or more across, shaped
like small tomatoes and very showy against the foliage. They are edible
Since ancient Grecian times, roses have been a symbol of beauty,
love, fidelity, and happiness. They are most valued for their fragrance.
In the later Roman period the flower petals were strewn on the floors of
banquet halls and on the streets during parades and processions. Rose
water is said to have flowed from fountains, and the wealthiest classes
bathed in rose wine and rose water. Cakes and other delicacies were made
from the petals and fruit.
There are two myths which attribute roses to gods. One says that they
came from the blood of Adonis, the other that they got their red color
from the blood of Aphrodite.
Varieties of the French rose (R. gallica) were symbols of the two
royal houses of York and Lancaster: a white flowered one for York and
red for Lancaster. Their dynastic struggle against one another during
the 15th century was known as the "War of the Roses" after these
Medicinally, the damask rose was used to make a syrup taken for colds
Roses are usually grown from plants purchased from a nursery or from
a mail-order rose specialist. Choose species that are suitable for your
climate, as their hardiness varies. Many of the old roses will grow
easily from cuttings taken at the time you prune the plants before they
In cool-summer areas choose varieties that do not have an unusually
large number of petals as they will not always open well. Pastel colors
are best; dark, rich colors often tend to get "muddy. " Plant in open
areas to assure good air circulation, and water deeply to encourage deep
In hot-summer areas roses grow fast and strong but if planted in the
hot sun they sometimes open prematurely, burn, or fade. Provide midday
or afternoon shade for best summer flowers. Avoid reflected heat from
light colored walls and avoid south or west exposure. Mulch heavily to
conserve moisture and keep roots cool.
In cold-winter areas, select hardy plants. Plant them with bud onion
just below the soil surface. After planting, mound soil over canes for
protection against freezing. Begin removing soil gradually when hard
freezes are over. Cut out dead branch tips in the spring.
Most roses like a well-aerated, moderately rich soil and need good
watering. Feed regularly in coordination with the blooming periods just
after one period has ended and new growth is beginning for the next one
is a good time. Roses are subject to aphids, spider mites, and thrips,
depending on the variety and your geographic location. Spray against
them as needed.
The most common use for roses is in the landscape, but you also can use
the petals and fruit to make tea, jellies, potpourri, and sachets.
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