The following article was written by one of our consultants at Ode à la Rose, a Manhattan flower delivery service and a one of a kind NYC Florist.

Flower Library: The Rose

The rose is a symbol of great beauty and love throughout the world. It is not only cherished for its exceptional appearance but also for its delightful fragrance. Roses are a popular gift for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and even Christmas. Eighty-five percent of the American population considers the rose to be their favorite flower. Roses are becoming even more popular with gardeners as varieties become hardier and easier to grow. Many varieties will now bloom nearly continuously from early in summer until the first frost.

Botany

The word “botany” refers to the study of plants in a scientific manner. It focuses on the lives of plants. The genus for roses is Rosa, and the family is Rosaceae. Roses are perennial (which means that you plant them once and they return for two or more seasons on their own) shrubs which can be climbing, trailing or erect. They can have one of four different types of flowers including: single (have five petals forming a circle); double (they have 15 petals or more, increasing by multiples of five); semi-double (have between six and 15 petals and open in a more loose manner than doubles); or quartered (the flowers appear to be divided into four quarters and the numerous petals comprise a bloom that is flat). The stems have different sizes and shapes of thorns. Roses have a type of fruit that is berrylike called a “hip.” The majority of species of roses are native to Asia. There are also some species that are native to North America and northwestern Africa. More than 100 species of roses exist today. Crossbreeding has led to many different types of garden roses and much hardier varieties.

Species

There are four subgenera which the genus Rosa is divided into which include: Platyrhodon, Hulthemosa, Hesperrhodos and Rosa (which is the type of subgenus). The Rosa subgenus is divided into 11 sections which include:

  1. Banksianae-These roses hail from China and are yellow and white in color.
  2. Bracteatae-The section includes a total of three species which include one from India and two from China.
  3. Caninae-The section of roses comes from Europe, Asia and North Africa and features white and pink flowers.
  4. Carolinae-The section includes beautiful bright pink, pink and white flowers which come from North America.
  5. Chinensis-The roses in this section are from Burma and China and include colors of yellow, pink, red, white and mixed.
  6. Gallicanae-These roses from Europe and western Asia can vary from pink to crimson and can also be striped.
  7. Gymnocarpae-These roses all have a deciduous receptacle on the hip and one species hails from western North America while the remainder are from East Asia.
  8. Laevigatae-This species comes from China and features a single white flower.
  9. Pimpinellifoliae-Coming from Europe and Asia, these roses can be colored pink, mauve, bright yellow, white and can also be striped.
  10. Rosa-These roses can be found anywhere except North Africa and can be lilac, red, pink, white and mulberry in color.
  11. Synstylae-Every area has these roses which are crimson, pink and white in color.

Rose Gardens

Finding a good location for your roses is the first important step in creating your own rose garden. Roses need lots of sun (ideally six hours of direct sun which begins in the morning) and moisture. Yet they hate standing water so the soil needs to have good drainage. If you are planting bare root roses, be sure you soak them in water before planting. If your roses are potted, thoroughly water the pots and allow them to sit for a while before planting. If your roses have any bruised or broken roots, trim them off. Now you are ready to dig your holes. The holes should be at least six inches deeper than the plants. You also want the holes to be twice the width of your pots. If your soil has poor drainage you can help the problem by adding pebbles or small rocks to the bottoms of the holes. Before you begin actually planting, add three inches of compost, bone meal and soil to the holes. Next make a mound and place the plants' roots on top of the mounds. Spread the roots out and then fill in the remainder of the holes firmly around the plants with soil. Now you must water the plants with a slow, steady stream. Finally place three inches of mulch around the bottoms of the bushes once you have watered them.

After you have planted your roses, you still need to take good care of them in order for them to truly thrive. Water is essential to healthy roses. Try to slowly water your roses several times per week. Water around the base of the plants and try not to splash water on their foliage (this can spread diseases). You want to soak the soil 12 to 18 inches deep. When your plants initially leaf out and after each bloom, fertilize them. If you have dry fertilizer you can scratch it into the soil under the leaves (do not touch the bud unions or the canes) and then thoroughly water the plants. Mulching is also a very important part of rose care. Mulching helps to keep the soil loose and moist and keeps weeds away. Wood chips and shavings are a common and beloved example of mulch. Spread two to four inches of mulch over your rose bed while leaving some open space at the base of each plant. It is a good idea to replace any mulch that deteriorates throughout each year. Pests may become a problem for your roses. If this is the case, check with your local nursery to find out which products will best combat your specific problem. Finally, pruning your roses will promote blooms. Use sharp curved-edge pruning shears as well as long-handled lopping shears to prune the various types of roses. Gardening gloves will help to keep your hands safe from thorns.

Associations/Societies

A great way to learn more about roses is through a rose association or society. Try the following society websites if you seek more information regarding roses.

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