The Guide To Roses!

Roses are one of the most popular flower species in the world. Fossil evidence tells us that the rose is around 35 million years old. However the cultivation of roses in gardens is fairly recent. It began about 5,000 years ago in China. Roses are surrounded with mystery and romance connected to their lore. More than 150 species of roses have been found in nature and countless cultivars developed from them. Growing roses is easy with a little understanding of their life cycle.

During the Roman period, roses were grown extensively in the Middle East. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Roman nobility established large public rose gardens in the south of Rome. Rose petals were often dropped in wine because it was thought that the essence of rose would stave off drunkenness and victorious armies would return to be showered with rose petals from the civilians that crowded the balconies above the streets. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the popularity of roses seemed to rise and fall depending on gardening trends of the time.

Wild roses have been growing in Britain for thousands of years, but varieties were brought over from China because of their ability to bloom repeatedly. Until the 1800s roses had only been used in Europe for medicinal purposes.

Soon rose gardens began popping up all over Europe so everyone could  enjoy the brightly coloured, strongly scented flowers.

The roses we know today are the result of hybridization with the roses from China. They are bred specifically for their ability to bloom repeatedly. The hybridization of roses began in the 17th century and is still continuing today. Countless varieties have been introduced and the number is still growing.

Types of Rose

The Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora species are the most popular of modern roses. Large, shapely blooms of 30 to 50 petals in all sorts of shades and colors. The ‘Peace’ Rose in 1945 was the earliest. In 1954 the Grandiflora was found by crossing the hybrid tea with the floribunda. Grandiflora grow to well over 8 feet. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was the first Grandiflora in this class.

Bushes have large clusters of flowers with many blooms in flower at one time. These are the second most popular rose bushes after the Hybrid Tea, although the Tea blooms in a 6 weeks cycle while the floribunda blooms continuously. Polyanthas tend have smaller flowers on smaller, sturdy bushes. Shrub rose is a common term for low growing roses that often have old-fashioned blooms. They are cold and disease-resistant but have very little fragrance.


Mini-floras are a new classification. They are too large to be a mini, but could be too small for a hybrid tea or floribunda rose. Miniature roses are roses that are smaller in bush, foliage and bloom size. The blooms can range from 1/2-inch up to 2 inches. Miniatures are very popular and can be grown in containers. The plants range in size from about 1-3 feet.


Antique garden roses are the ancestors of the modern roses we know today. They are loved for their old fashioned blooms and are relatively easy to grow. Rugosa roses are very hardy and are great by the seaside or in less than ideal soil types. They usually continue surviving even if they are neglected.


Back in Victorian times the rose was a big part of the language of flowers. It was a time that showing deep emotions was frowned upon, so people learned to express themselves using flowers such as the rose. So when an open white rose was sent the sender was really asking ‘will you love me?’

Due to the popularity of the flowers many people are now aware of their various meanings however some still maybe curious to find out. So I’ve listed them below:

White roses – purity and innocence
Red roses – passion and love
Yellow roses – friendship
Pink roses – perfect happiness
Orange roses – fascination
Coral roses – desire

Red roses can mean congratulations and thank you, but on Valentine’s Day, February 14, they’re usually reserved for messages of love.

How to grow and care for roses

Get your roses off to the best possible start by choosing their growing site carefully and then planting them using the techniques most suitable for your climate. Bare-root rose plants offer the best value and grow quickly after planting.

Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sun each day, although some afternoon shade is best in hot climates. Plant them in a spot where air can circulate and dry their leaves soon after a rain, and give them fertile soil that drains quickly

Determine the depth to plant

Most rose plants consist of two parts: the rootstock and the flowering canes. The bulge where the parts join, called the graft union, gets planted just at or below ground level, depending on your climate. Where winter temperatures drop to -10F or colder, plant the graft union 4 to 6 inches deep. In warmer climates, place it just at or slightly above the soil surface.

Dig the hole.

Keep the rose roots cool and moist while you dig the planting hole. The hole should be deep enough to set the graft union at the proper depth and at least wide enough to allow the roots to extend without bending. Put the removed soil in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.

Amend the soil.

Very sandy or heavy clay soils benefit from the addition of organic material. Mix the soil from the planting hole with 25 percent compost and 25 percent composted bark plus a few handfuls of composted manure. Mix well. Get your roses off to the best possible start by choosing their growing site carefully and then planting them using the techniques most suitable for your climate. Bare-root rose plants–those sold without soil–offer the best value and grow quickly after planting. Partially fill the hole with the soil mix, making a cone or mound in the center over which to drape the roots.

Backfill and water
Holding the rose at the right planting depth, fill the hole with soil, working it carefully around the roots, when the hole is nearly full, water thoroughly to settle the soil. Finish filling the hole and create a low ring of soil around the perimeter of the hole. Water again. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch in a circle around the plant, taking care to keep the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the canes. Water as necessary to keep the soil evenly moist until the rose resumes vigorous growth

After your roses become dormant in the fall, protect them from severe freezing weather by piling a mound of soil over the canes. Lay down climbing rose canes and cover them, too. Buy non-grafted or “own-root” roses if you live where temperatures drop to -20oF or colder. These roses can often grow back from their roots if their tops die from winter cold.

Prune Roses

Cut stems at an angle. Cut about 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud at a 45-degree angle. Dab pruning seal on the pruning cuts to seal them, especially if you live where rose borers are a problem. Cutting above an outward-facing bud forces growth up and away from the center of the plant, improving air circulation, which reduces pest problems. Wait until early spring when buds swell and are easy to spot.

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