Showing posts with label rose care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rose care. Show all posts

Sunday, January 8, 2012

History of Magical Rose

A Brief History of Roses

“It was roses, roses all the way”

By- Robert Browning

What’s in a name?

“That which we call a rose; by any other name would smell as sweet?”

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 scene 2

redsingleRoses have a long and colorful history. According to fossil evidence, the rose is 35 million years old. Today, there are over 30,000 varieties of roses and it has the most complicated family tree of any known flower species.

The cultivation of roses most likely began in Asia around 5000 years ago. They have been part of the human experience ever since and mentions of the flower are woven into a great many tales from the ancient world.

And there are so many beautiful stories that include roses through out the ages that we all can recognize.

Greek mythology tells us that it was Aphrodite who gave the rose its name, but it was the goddess of flowers, Chloris, who created it. One day while Chloris was cleaning in the forest she found the lifeless body of a beautiful nymph. To right this wrong Chloris enlisted the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty; then called upon Dionysus, the god of wine, who added nectar to give her a sweet scent. When it was their turn the three Graces gave Chloris charm, brightness and joy. Then Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so that Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom. And so the Rose was…

In another story, an ancient Hindu legend, Brahma (the creator of the world) and Vishnu (the protector of the world) argued over whether the lotus was more beautiful than the rose. Vishnu backed the rose, while Brahma supported the lotus. But Brahma had never seen a rose before and when he did he immediately recanted. As a reward Brahma created a bride for Vishnu and called her Lakshmi she was created from 108 large and 1008 small rose petals.

Several thousands of years later, on the other side of the world in Crete, there are Frescoes which date to c. 1700BC illustrating a rose with five-pedaled pink blooms. Discoveries of tombs in Egypt have revealed wreaths made with flowers, with roses among them. The wreath in the tomb of Hawara (discovered by the English archaeologist William Flinders Petrie) dates to about AD 170, and represents the oldest preserved record of a rose species still living. Roses later became synonymous with the worst excesses of the Roman Empire when the peasants were reduced to growing roses instead of food crops in order to satisfy the demands of their rulers. The emperors filled their swimming baths and fountains with rose-water and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies. Roses were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Heliogabalus used to enjoy showering his guests with rose petals which tumbled down from the ceiling during the festivities.

During the fifteenth century, the factions fighting to control England used the rose as a symbol. The white rose represented York, and the red rose symbolized Lancaster. Not surprisingly, the conflict between these factions became known as the War of the Roses.

rose13a-120x140In the seventeenth century roses were in such high demand that roses and rose water were considered as legal tender. In this capacity they were used as barter in the markets as well as for any payments the common people had to make to royalty. Napoleon’s wife Josephine loved roses so much she established an extensive collection at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris. This garden of more than 250 rose varieties became the setting for Pierre Joseph Redoute’s work as a botanical illustrator and it was here Redoute completed his watercolor collection “Les Rose,” which is still considered one of the finest records of botanical illustration.

Cultivated roses weren’t introduced into Europe until the late eighteenth century. These introductions came from China and were repeat bloomers, making them of great interest to hybridizers who no longer had to wait once a year for their roses to bloom.

From this introduction, experts today tend to divide all roses into two groups. There are old roses (Those cultivated in Europe before 1800) and modern roses (Those which began to be cultivated in England and France around the turn of the 19th century).

Until the beginning of the 19th century, all roses in Europe were shades of pink or white. Our romantic symbol of the red rose first came from China around 1800. Unusual green roses arrived a few decades later.

Bright yellow roses entered the palette around 1900. It was the Frenchman Joseph Permet-Ducher who is credited with the discovery. After more than 20 years of breeding roses in a search for a hardy yellow variety, he luck changed when one day he simply stumbled across a mutant yellow flower in a field. We have had yellow and orange roses ever since

The rose is a phenomenal plant and is rightly known as the worlds favorite flower. No other flower has ever experienced the same popularity that the rose has enjoyed in the last fifth years. In temperate climates, roses are more widely grown than any other ornamental plant, and as cut flowers they are forever in fashion.

It has been estimated that 150 million plants are purchased by gardeners worldwide every year, and sophisticated breeding programs have produced a plant that dominates the world’s cut flower market; the annual crop is calculated in tons. Roses have also made a tremendous contribution to the perfume industry.

Roses boast an ancient lineage, and they are intricately entwined in our history and culture.

As a motif, the rose has been and still is depicted in many national emblems. It has been adopted by countless political factions, and even by businesses and several international events.


redrose2Rose’s species have a natural distribution through out most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Paleontologists inform us that they become established in the Tertiary Period, which began 70 million years ago. This means that the ancestors of the rose predate the evolution of humans

Europe and the Middle East – The Dawn of Rose Breeding

Well before the Christian era, the transportation of useful plants had played an essential part in the expansion of civilizations. The sprawling Roman Empire together with the excursions of Alexander the Great in Asia introduced many species never seen before in the Middle East and Europe. The dog rose (Rosa canina), for example, was long thought to be a native of Britain, but was in fact brought there by the Romans.

By about AD 1200 the first five groups of domesticated roses had already begun to evolve in cultivation: Albas, Centifolias, Damasks, Gallicas and Scots Roses.

The Far East – the Birthplace of the Modern Garden Rose

Although rose growing enjoined high popularity in the gardens of Europe for many hundreds of years, it was not until the end of the eighteenth century, with the discovery of R. chinensis in China, that a major step forward was achieved. The revolutionary characteristic of this rose is its ability to flower repeatedly from early summer to late autumn.

Some commentators have used the term perpetual flowering But this can be misinterpreted and used too literally. Parsons Pink China, Slater’s Crimson China, Humes Blush Tea-scented China and Parks Yellow Tea-scented China The first cultivated varieties opened up a new vista of roses with a modern classical shape, a true crimson color with a very pale hint of the early yellows and a repeat flowering performance. The Far East became the birthplace of the Modern Garden Rose, and the rest is history.

East Meets West

The introduction of roses from the Far East coincided rather neatly with the advent of modern breeding techniques. Although the sexual function of the flower, in particular the function of the anthers and stigma had been revealed in the seventeenth century, this discovery was not used in practical plant breeding for another two hundred years before this time, primitive Rose breeders would place two distinct varieties in pots together when both were in full bloom; they knew that there was a reasonable chance that the plants would cross-breed and produce seedlings with shared characteristics of the two parents.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, hybridists, primarily French amateurs, began a planned breeding program with very gratifying results. This was quickly followed up with some enthusiasm by rose-growing devotees all around the world. Soon, rose breeding without first planning the parentage became unthinkable.

The subsequent g=progeny produced were identified by groups usually names after their town or country of origin, the hybridist and, in some cases, a wealthy patron. Thus, collective terms such as Bourbons, Noisettes, Hybrid Perpetual and Portland’s came into existence with varying degrees of success. Eventually, the collective term Hybrid Teas was coined; 1867 is the date usually quoted when this modern group became a recognizable entity. Since that time, Hybrid Teas (also known as Large-flowered Roses), have progressed from strength to strength.

The Last Fifty Years

The early 1950s was a decisive time in the history of the rose. Gardening for leisure, rather than for food, became increasingly popular, and this coincided with the release of a new rose variety called Peace. It is difficult to convey the impact this rose had on gardeners-simply put, everybody was growing it! Peace almost single-handedly advanced the popularity of the rose out of all proportion to any other garden plant.

In the last decade there have been many new schools of thought on the role of the rose in the garden. No longer are we subjected to endless formal flowerbeds solely devoted to this single genus. It is not that gardeners have lost their appreciation of these superb blooms, rather it is that they have discovered how wonderful roses can look when grown informally among other plants such as clematis, honeysuckles, delphiniums, lavender, spring bulbs and geraniums.

Although disease still rears its ugly head on certain occasion, the rose has become a much more adaptable plant; varieties are available that can be grown as shrubs, climbers, ground covers or in pots. Nowadays, the rose has a place in every garden, even the smallest back yard, and it is telling that the Patio Rose Sweet Dream is one of the best-selling roses today.


rose6a-120x140As with most plants that have long been closely associated with the history of people, the rose has become deeply ingrained in our culture and beliefs. The Romans, who originally cultivated the rose as a medicinal plant, also used the blooms to enhance their festivities.

The Greeks, however, accepted the rose as a complement to the progress of their culture. Whenever a secret meeting was held, the Greeks used roses to decorate the ceilings of their conference rooms. This indicated that everything discussed was confidential, which is the origin of the phrase sub Rosa.

In fifteenth century England, roses were chosen to represent the two rival royal factions: the white rose of the House of York and the red rose of the House of Lancaster. The heraldic Tudor Rose emerged as the emblem of royalty. More recently, roses have been used as motifs to further the aspirations of political parties and national sporting teams.

Evolution of the Rose

Throughout the history of civilization, no other flower has been so immortalized and integrated into daily life as the rose. From poetry to music, from festivities to wars, Mothers Day to St Valentines Day, and birth to death, the rose has held a unique role. There are over 4000 roses listed in this monograph, and they are testimony enough to convince even the ultimate skeptic that roses have a rich tapestry of evolution stretching way back in time. Just how the genus Rosa managed to, and continues to, evolve into one of the worlds favorite flowers is an interesting horticultural puzzle. To fully appreciate the development of roses up to the present day, a brief exploration of the early history of roses before 1800 is needed.

Roses in Antiquity

ROSEPAINT3Fossil remains found on a slate deposit in Colorado indicate that roses estimated 40 million years ago in North America. Other important fossil findings through the Northern Hemisphere have confirmed the very ancient existence of roses growing as far north as Alaska and Norway and as far south as Mexico. No Wild Roses have been found to grow below the equator, although roses now thrive in the Southern Hemisphere thanks to the deliberate intervention of civilization.

Where or when the genus Rosa originated is unknown in spite of the wealth of fossil studies. In theory, the early Wild Roses were most likely cultivated for their hips, which have some nutritional properties, as were their close relatives, the cherries, plums and apples. Most of these early species roses were five-petalled, pink or white with some yellows from China. As civilizations developed trade, accidental crosses of there early species started the evolutionary process as they were grown along side each other.

Mention of roses appeared frequently in the written records of early civilizations, such as those of the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans. In 500 BC, Confucius wrote about the roses growing in the Imperial Rose Garden of the Chinese Emperor, Who also had an extensive library of books about roses. It is from such writings that we can glean a picture of rose distribution and cultivation.

The oldest rose we can identify today is Rosa gallica, which gives very fragrant flowers of deep pink to crimson followed by brick red, sub-globose or turbine hops. The exact geographical origin of R. Gallic is unknown, but there are references to it by the Persians in the twelfth century BC; they regarded it as a strong symbol of love and commitment. The next identifiable rose was the very fragrant R. damasccena, which appeared in descriptive texts around 900 BC. In 50 BC a northern African variant called R. damascena semperflorens, the? Autumn Damask captivated the Romans for its ability to give two bloom cycles instead of just one. Traced back to the fifth century BC, it is believed to have resulted from a cross between R. gallica and T. moschata (the musk rose). Until the discovery and importation of China roses from the Orient in the late eighteenth century, R damascena semperflorens was the only repeat-bloomers known to the Western world.

Another rose of great historical importance was the Alba Rose, White Rose of York, the emblem of the great House of York during the fifteenth century Wars of the Roses. R. Alba is probably a lot older, dating back to as early as the second century AD.

In early European times, the evolution of the rose had reached a well-defined, simple family tree, which had five distinctive Old Garden Rose classifications: Gallica, Alba, Damask, Centifolia and Moss.

Roses in the New World

rosesOf the 200 species of Wild Roses know worldwide, about 35 are considered indigenous to the Unites State, which makes the rose an American as apple pie. The first American species mentioned in European texts was R. virginiana; notable other species are R. Carolina, the Pasture Rose R. setigera, the Prairie Rose R. California, R woodsii and R. palustris, the Swamp Rose. Several of these are named after their naturally selected habitat. Captain John Smith wrote about the Indians of the James River Valley who planted Wild Roses to adorn their village surroundings. In 1621, Edward Winslow, a founder of the Plymouth Colony, planted lots of fragrant white, red and Damask Roses.

Modern Roses

In 1867, the French breeder Guillot introduced a medium pink variety called La France. This variety was considered unique in that it possessed the general habit of a Hybrid Perpetual (Mme Victor Verdier, its seed parent) as well as the elegantly shaped buds and free-flowering character of a Tea Rose (Mme Bravy the pollen parent). Recognition that La France demonstrated a new group was delayed for almost thirty years of acrimonious discussion in the popular horticultural magazine of the era Gardeners Chronicle. Nevertheless, the first Hybrid Tea had been born! Although technical difficulties hindered the direct mimicking of Guillots work, practical experience over the following twenty years finally resolved the problems and rapid expansion of the Hybrid Tea class with different colors and foliage took place. Hybrid Teas, now known as Large-flowered Roses, quickly replaced Hybrid Perpetual in popularity in gardens all over Europe and America.

Planned breeding has now developed over 10,000 Hybrid Teas that demonstrate a wide range of color and blends and even stripes!

Rose Plant Care Yearly Calendar

Rose Care Calendar 2012

Month by Month Guide


January: Pruning, Bare Roots, Repotting and Renewal

This month we force the roses into dormancy. How is this done? Pruning each bush back and removing all foliage forces the energy of growing back into the roots and canes. Look for a pruning class to give you the training or email us for help. You should always start with clean sharp bypass pruners. Seal large canes with white glue. Clean all debris under each bush. The final step will be using a dormant spray such as lime sulfur and/or horticulture oil to prevent disease and pests on the new growth. Finish the job with a 3 inch layer of mulch.

Pictured above: My Sunshine (Miniature: yellow)

Need a new rose? It's bare root rose season! Nurseries are ripe with young plants. Roses are rated in size by "grade." Stick with Grade 1 or 1.5 as they will have the best cane size. Canes should look healthy and green. If the canes are shriveled, do not purchase this plant. It is very dehydrated and will have a difficult time thriving.

While the weather is cool and the roses are quiet, January is an ideal time to repot roses. Potted roses need soil renewal every 2 to 3 years Soil gets depleted as witnessed with the soil level slowly dropping away. Always start with potting soil rich with organic matter with a soil pH around 6.5.

Do not fertilize your roses. When there is 3 inches of new growth, then you should fertilize.

February: New Growth and Finish Pruning

The weather will remain cool and growth comes slowly. Roses require a soil temperature of 60º F to grow. Roses in pots will resume their growth quicker as the sun can warm the soil easier. Some rosarians like to start all new plants in pots to see how they perform as well as giving them a chance to get a good head start. It is far easier to remove a poor performer from a pot than to dig it out of the ground.

It still is not too late to prune. Some rosarians believe the later you prune, the less disease you will encounter as the rainy season ends and prevents that ideal symbiosis of damp nights and warm days that lead to mildew and rust. It is still advised that a dormancy spray still be used regardless of when you prune.

March: Rebirth and Fertilization

PINKSINGLEThe weather gets warmer and the sun graces us longer. Time to admire the new growth and buds! Some gardeners are lucky by month's end to see the first blooms. Due to their slow growth, these first blooms will be your biggest for the year.

When your plants have 3 inches of new growth, fertilizer may be added. Organic fertilizers release slowly and gently feed the plants. Inorganic fertilizers rapidly release and will need more frequent use. Whatever type you use, the package will describe the amount and frequency at which it should be applied. Do not feed and starve your plants! They will reward you with frustration, disease and little or no blooming. An easy program is to get a three-month time released rose fertilizer. Every time you water the rose, it gets fed. A good way to remember is March, June and September for the feeding schedule--a changing of the season, a change of food. Three times per year is all that would be needed. Easy!

Each fertilizer has a three-digit rating called an N-P-K rating. This stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. Each is a key ingredient to rose development. Nitrogen is the key to green growth and leaves. Early season feeding should gear towards this as you do not want to encourage early bloom, only leading to short stems and big flowers. Phosphorous is important for bloom production. While potassium creates strong canes to support those lovely flowers. Indoor plant food cannot be used on roses. The result would be a lush green plant with no blooms. Look for a fertilizer designed for roses or ornamental flowering plants. Contact the Orange County Rose Society to help guide you. It is free! Local nurseries can assist you also. You don't like to starve and neither does the rose.

April: First Bloom and Pests

By now you should have lots of buds and be anxiously awaiting the arrival of that marvelous color splash. Unfortunately, some outsiders may have discovered your rose buds, too. Common for this time of year are aphids. These insects are usually green and are found on the buds and neck of the roses looking for tender growth upon which to feed. Quick fixes for this are taking the hose sprayer and blasting them off, squish them with your fingers (best if done wearing gloves) or an insecticidal soap designed for this predator. Local sparrows and finches delight in eating these off your plants. Ladybugs and their larvae will help, but they do not stay long in your garden.

Another annoyance may be small holes appearing on the leaves. These are caused by rose slugs--larvae of the sawfly. They feast underneath the leaves. To locate them, follow the trail of holes up the plant until they stop. Turn over the leaf and you will see green caterpillar-like worms. To rid your garden of these you can once again squish them (which is very time consuming if you have many bushes) or spray underneath the leaves with an insecticide specific for this insect.. Our rainy season winds down so vigilance with watering is a must.

May: Disease Watch and Water

CharoletteThe first bloom cycle is over and now it is time to deadhead those spent blooms. Just as in pruning cutting back the old flower just above a five-leaflet that faces outward. Keep that center of the rose open all season to aid in air circulation. Another chore is to remove leaflets close to the ground to allow air circulation from underneath the plant. For hybrids teas, grandifloras, floribundas and climbers, clear 8" of leaves from the bottom. Smaller plants such as miniatures or minifloras 3-4" is a good rule of thumb.

Water your roses. How often? The warmer it gets, the more frequent this chore should be. Potted roses especially need to have frequent watering as they cannot draw from the soil like their in-the-ground counterparts can. Just like starving your roses of food, denying them of water will also cause your roses to shut down. A steady diet of water is a must. A quick rule to use:

  • 70-80º: twice a week
  • 80-90º: 3-4 times a week
  • 90 and above: daily
  • Above 100º: twice a day

It is hard to overwater roses if they are planted in loose, draining soil. Clay soil, which is prevalent in Orange County, will hold water and potentially suffocate the roots depriving them of oxygen. Clay soil can be amended to break down the clay with gypsum and compost. If you have trouble growing roses, a visit from one of our Consulting Rotarians might help you.

June: June Gloom

Nothing like the gray days of June especially for those living within 10 miles of the coast. Mildew watch must be done. Once mildew is on your plant, you cannot kill it. The fungus has invaded the cells to help it grow. To help prevent further spread, it must be removed. Disinfect your clippers before moving on to another bush. This can be accomplished quickly with a disinfectant wipe or a disinfectant spray. Dry the clippers after this. It is best to prevent mildew before it arrives. Fungicides are used to prevent mildew, rust, anthracnose, black spot and downy mildew. Consult with the Orange County Rose Society or your local nursery to find the product you need. There are also organic mildew sprays such as Neem Oil.

Don't forget about water. Water in the morning hours so that the sun may dry the leaves and this will help prevent fungus problems. Watering at night will add crucial moisture for the mildew to grow.

July: Water, Grasshoppers and New Pests

Did we mention watering your roses?

Grasshoppers are elusive creatures that frustrate gardeners. On roses, they will chomp at the buds and eat the leaves leaving an irregular border. Other than birds catching them, you'll need to invoke stalking them from behind and chopping their heads off to kill them. They can hide behind fences. Spraying the plants with water can flush them out so keep your shears close to nab them. Their outer skin (exoskeleton) is tough and rather impermeable to pesticides.

Spraying roses in hotter weather requires a little more TLC. Make sure your plant is watered prior to starting. Using half-strength sprays will be less harsh. If the temperature is over 85ºF do not spray.

Two new visitors may be visiting your garden. Thrips are very tiny insects found deep within the petals. They are 1/16" long and typically seen in the light colored roses. Their damage will be seen with a slight brown edging to the petals. Spinosad drenching of the buds will help this. The second and more menacing are spider mites. They nest underneath the leaves. Rubbing under the leaves you will notice a gritty feel. Long term damage will result in dying leaves and defoliation. An easy solution is to blast the undersides of the leaves with water. When the underside feels smooth, you have removed these mites. A mite spray will also remove these critters.

August: Minor Pruning

rose2aRoses can get a bit tall by summer's end. A light pruning will help bring that rose back to earth. This time you do not remove the leaves! By taking the top one-third of the rose off, energy is signaled back to the canes, slowing the push to bloom and therefore bigger fall roses.

Japanese beetles are not found in Southern California. The Fig Beetle is similar but more than twice the size and may be seen in your garden. They will chew at your rose.

September: More Pests

Cooler nights are coming soon. Aphids may return so follow the program outlined in April to rid your garden of this. There may be different holes in the leaves. Big round ones. These are made by the cutter bee. They are taking the leaves and lining their nests. They look like black honey bees and are fascinating to watch how they make that perfect circle cut. Holes in the buds are caterpillars. Remove these buds.

October: Final Feeding and Rose Shows

In preparation for the winter hibernation of the rose, you want to let the rose know it is time to slow down. October is the last month to feed your roses. Less food equals less growth. As the nights are cooler, the roses will not re-bloom as quickly. Fall blooms are definitely larger than summer's. Keep your plants well hydrated ahead of Santa Ana conditions which can dehydrate plants very quickly and stress the roses. Stress may lead to more disease as the rose tries to recover.

Late September and October are rose show times in Southern California. These shows are free to the public after judging has finished. Visiting one of these shows can give you an idea of the selection of all types of roses that can be grown in our area. Little known varieties such as polyanthus or shrub roses are largely overlooked in favor of the stately hybrid teas or floribundas. Small garden spaces will easily allow space for the former, which are very disease resistant and prolific bloomers. The Orange County Rose Society presents their Crates of Roses show at the end of October at Roger's Gardens in Corona Del Mar. This is a two-day event that features hundreds of roses and arrangements.

November: Last Call

Depending on the weather, roses will still be blooming in November. A bouquet of orange and yellow roses look lovely on the Thanksgiving table. Keep watering until the rains start. Having a rain gauge will give you an idea of how much water your garden has received.

December: Rest and Planning

Like the end of the calendar, it is the end of the rose season. Late blooms may grace the dwindling light. Instead of cutting back or dead heading, remove the spent petals leaving the growing rose hip to add some late season green, red or orange fruit on your plants. This will also signal your plants to rest.

Heavy garden gloves, pruners and kneeling benches make wonderful holiday gifts for any gardener.

Rose catalogs are out and time to see if there are some duds to remove and replace with a fresh plant or two. Not all roses will grow well in our diverse Orange County climate. Generally, we have 2 climates to work around. First is the coastal area which is ripe with overcast/foggy mornings. Less sunlight available makes it harder to grow heavily pedaled roses. If you find yourself in this area, roses with 25 petals or less are ideal as well as very disease resistant plants. Mildew is a big problem along the coast. Next is the inland climate where there is plenty of sunshine and hotter temperatures. This area can grow roses with greater than 25 petals. Look for roses that can take those 100º+ temperatures.