This is a glossary or dictionary of rose-related terms. Hopefully, it can be useful as a quick reference for many rose questions. Many of the entries are word‑for‑word the same as part 1 of the FAQ, but may be easier to find in this document because it is organized alphabetically. If you have any suggestions for improvement to this article, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some commonly used abbreviations used when discussing roses:
Aphids are tiny insects about a 1/16 to 1/8 inches long, usually light green, red or black. They come in the spring and damage tender new growth.
A hard spray of water from the hose will help remove aphid infestations. Aphids reproduce quickly and this may need to be repeated every couple days for a couple weeks.
Aphids have a mutually beneficial relationship with ants, so ants need to be controlled if aphids are to be controlled. Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids and can be used to control aphids. If ladybugs are purchased, water the area well and release the ladybugs around sunset to discourage them from leaving.Back to topics
No true black roses exist. Some roses sold as black roses are actually dark red or maroon. The petals of many of these dark red roses tend to sunburn easily. To see that a rose is not truly black, hold it up next to a piece of black construction paper. To make a dark red rose appear blacker, put its stem in water that has black ink in it.
Below is an incomplete list of some roses that have been mentioned when black roses are discussed. Next to some of the roses a very subjective description of the color is given.
Blackspot is a fungus that causes black spots about 1/16 to 1/2 inches in diameter to form on the leaves and sometimes stems. The infected leaves later turn yellow around the spots and eventually fall from the plant. In bad cases, blackspot can severely defoliate a rose bush. The conditions that promote blackspot are wet leaves, splashing water and warm temperatures.
Here are some ways to combat blackspot. Most of these methods also apply to preventing and treating powdery mildew.
Preventative spray treatments for blackspot
Though highly sought after, no blue roses exist yet. Some roses are advertised as blue, but they are actually lavender or something. Most lavender roses are difficult to grow and are quite susceptible to disease.
Some of the bluer roses are Blue Girl, Blue Jay(HT), and Reine des Violettes(HP). A couple of true purple roses are Cardinal de Richelieu and Veilchenblau.
The genetics are just not there for producing a true blue color in roses. It will probably be necessary to use gene splicing to produce the first blue rose.Back to topics
Can enter the cane through the pruned tops. Prevented by sealing the canes with wax, white glue, or nail polish.Back to topics
When a Floribunda forms a bloom "spike" or "candelabra" – it is setting many little blooms on one stem. To prune Floribundas for quality of bloom, rather than the maximum number of blooms, pinch out the center, fat bud so the side buds have a better chance at developing at the same time. This encourages a big rounded mass of blossoms – a "spray." Floribundas like to do this so it is relatively easy to persuade them to flower in this manner. Once some of the blooms begin to fade, you can just cut out the few that are dying and let the spray continue to develop blooms. Once the entire spray is spent, or most of the individually blooms are finished, cut off the entire spray.Back to topics
Cut flowers in early morning or after it rains, not when they are under water stress. Cut the stem about an inch longer than you need. After cutting, immediately place cut flower in warm water. If possible, with the stem under water, cut off the bottom inch or so of the stem at an angle. This keeps air from getting into the stem. Remove all foliage that remains under water and would just rot. Recut the stem underwater every day if possible. Some people add a small amount of bleach to the water to keep down fungus and bacteria. Sugar or soda can be used for food. Others use a commercial floral preservative.Back to topics
David Austin Roses: see English Roses
deadheading:(see also hips:)
Deadheading is cutting off flowers as they wither or don't look as good. Old blooms left on the plant may have been pollinated and may begin to form seed pods (hips). The formation of hips requires a lot of energy from the plant and slows flower production. By preventing the formation of hips, deadheading encourages the rose bush to grow new flowers.
The choice of which spot to deadhead at is influenced by what shape you want the bush to take, and which direction you want a particular cane to grow. Usually, you will want to cut the stem at a 45‑degree angle just above an outward‑facing leaf. Make sure the high side of the cut is the side the leaf set is on.
To deadhead, remove the flower by making a diagonal cut just above the next 5 or 7‑leaf branch down on the stem. The idea is to cut to a bud eye capable of producing a healthy cane. If this would cause too much of the cane to be removed, a 3‑leaf branch can be chosen instead. The first year cut back to the first 3 or 5‑leaf branch. In following years cut far enough down to get to a 5‑leaf branch with a leaf bud that is facing outward. This will open up the plant.
Once blooming roses do not need to be dead headed. They bloom once and then they are finished blooming for the year. However, once‑blooming roses may be (in fact, should be) pruned after they are finished blooming. They should NOT be pruned in the fall or before they bloom because they bloom on the previous year's growth.
Stop deadheading as of September 1 in zones 4 and 5. It is a good practice to let the last roses on HT's produce hips because it makes them more frost hardy. It causes the plant to undergo chemical changes that slow down growth, inhibit blooming and generally prepare for dormancy by focusing its energy on 'hardening' the canes. The formation of hips tells the plant that it's "done its job" and can now rest from its labors.Back to topics
(abbrev. ER, see also
This new group of roses, often called David Austin Roses, was introduced in 1969 by David Austin of England. These roses are an attempt to combine the best traits of both Old Roses and Modern Roses. David Austin has attempted to produce roses with the classic flower forms and fragrance of the Old Roses on plants that repeat bloom like the Modern Roses. Some of the popular English Roses are Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas, Heritage, and Mary Rose. The FAQ has an article with more information about English Roses.Back to topics
Roses will perform much better if given adequate fertilizer. Use a well balanced fertilizer, such as 10‑10‑10, N‑P‑K. The three numbers used to describe a fertilizer tell how much of the three major nutrients are in that fertilizer. The first number (N) is the Nitrogen content, the second (P) is Phosphorous, and the third (K) is Potassium. Nitrogen or Nitrogen‑Phosphorous‑Potassium, (leaves,flowers,roots). Fertilize less during the first year while the plant is getting established.
When planting roses, it is recommended that you add long‑term sources of Phosphorous and Potassium to the soil near the roots because these two elements move slowly through the soil. Bone meal and rock phosphate are good long‑term sources of Phosphorous. Granite sand is a long‑term source of Potassium.
Cottonseed meal (lowers soil P.H.), alfalfa meal, and blood meal are organic sources of Nitrogen. Alfalfa meal also releases a growth stimulator as it decomposes. Many forms of inorganic Nitrogen leach quickly from the soil. Nitrogen also helps stimulate basal breaks.
Some rose growers fertilize with Epsom salts. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, a source of Magnesium. Being a sulfate, it will lower soil P.H. Although the need to use of Epsom salts is frequently debated, Magnesium (along with Nitrogen) is supposed to stimulate basal breaks. Many gardeners use 1/4 cup of Epsom salts per plant in the Spring and/or Fall. Some use as little as 1 tablespoon per plant, others up to 1/2 cup.
Seaweed is a good organic source of trace elements.Back to topics
Floribundas:(abbrev. FB or FL)
Floribundas were created about 1909 by crossing the Polyanthas
with Hybrid Teas. They produce flowers in clusters, not singly like
the Hybrid Teas. Floribundas are usually shorter plants than
Hybrid Teas and tend to produce more flowers and smaller flowers
than Hybrid Teas on shorter stems. Although Hybrid Teas provide
excellent cut flowers, Floribundas are well suited as good
landscape plants providing lots of color.
Many Floribundas are not very fragrant.
See the FAQ article (part 5/6) on Modern Roses, for more information about Floribundas.
bud‑pinching Floribundas: When a Floribunda forms a bloom "spike" or "candelabra" ndash; it is setting many little blooms on one stem. To prune Floribundas for quality of bloom, rather than the maximum number of blooms, pinch out the center, fat bud so the side buds have a better chance at developing at the same time. This encourages a big rounded mass of blossoms – a "spray." Floribundas like to do this so it is relatively easy to persuade them to flower in this manner. Once some of the blooms begin to fade, you can just cut out the few that are dying and let the spray continue to develop blooms. Once the entire spray is spent, or most of the individually blooms are finished, cut off the entire spray.Back to topics
Fragrance contributes much to the enjoyment of roses. It is also one of the most subjective of topics when discussing roses.
Fragrance or perceived fragrance depends upon many factors: variety of rose, time of day, weather, growing conditions, the person smelling the rose, living flower vs. cut flower, etc. Each person's sense of smell is different.
A rose that is very fragrant to someone, may be not at all fragrant to someone else. Roses are most fragrant around mid‑morning on a warm day with no wind and moderate or high humidity. Their can dozens of components in the fragrance of a rose, but rose scents are usually categorized with such descriptions as "spicey", "tea", "old rose", or "fruity".
Here is a list of some very fragrant roses as recommended by posts to the newsgroup rec.gardens.roses.
Blackspot, powdery mildew and rust are the three most common fungus problems that roses have. See blackspot for some ways of preventing and treating fungus problems. Planting disease‑resistant roses in a sunny location with good air circulation will help prevent fungi.Back to topics
These are the rose seed pods that form after a flower's petals fall if the bloom was pollinated. Hips are the fruit produced by rose plants. Apple trees are members of the rosacae family and the apple is a hip. Some varieties such as R.rugosa produce large hips that turn brilliant colors in the fall.
Allowing the hips to develop will cause a rose to slow down or stop producing flowers. It also helps induce dormancy, helping prepare the rose plant for winter in colder climates. In contrast, deadheading will keep the plant from producing hips and encourage it to produce more flowers.Back to topics
Hybrid Teas:(abbrev. HT)
Hybrid Teas are easily the most popular class of roses today. Hybrid Teas as a group have large flowers with a high‑pointed bud. They are excellent repeat bloomers, often blooming almost continually. They bloom one flower per stem on long sturdy stems making them excellent for cutting. Hybrid Teas come in a large variety of colors. Hybrid Teas are upright shrubs.
The rose "La France", bred in 1867, is classified as the first Hybrid Tea rose.Back to topics
A shiny copper green beetle that can eat entire flowers as well as foliage. Can be controlled by milky spore.Back to topics
Leaf cutter bees cut semi‑circle shaped holes in the leaves of roses. They pose no real threat to rose health, but they drive exhibitors crazy.
Miniature roses grow to only about 6"‑18". The plants, leaves are all miniatures of the larger roses. Miniature roses tend to be quite hardy and can be grown in containers.
Spider mites are a tiny arachnid that appear like dust under
the leaves. They occur during hot, dry weather. They can be
controlled by spraying the plant every 7‑10 days with water to destroy
the webs and knock the mites off the leaves. Be sure to thoroughly
cover the underside of the lower leaves. They can also be controlled
with the miticides Avid or Kelthane.
Monitoring: Mites are tiny and difficult to detect. Usually plant damage–stippling or yellowing of leaves–will be noticed before you spot the mites themselves. Check the undersides of leaves for mites, their eggs, and webbing; you will need a hand lens to identify them. To observe them more closely, shake a few off the leaf surface onto a white sheet of paper. Once disturbed, they will move around rapidly. Be sure mites are present before you treat. Sometimes the mites will be gone by the time you notice the damage; plants will often recover after mites have left.
Refers to roses introduced since 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea was created. Usually refers to Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, or Grandiflora roses.Back to topics
mosaic virus: see virus:Back to topics
Any loose, usually organic material placed over the soil as a protective covering or for decorative purposes. Common mulches are ground bark, saw dust, leaves or straw. Roses benefit from a 2‑3 inch deep organic mulch such as pine bark, pine needles, leaf mulch, etc. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the stem of the plant.
Benefits of proper mulching:
(abbrev. OR, OGR, see also
Sometimes called Old Roses, Old‑fashioned Roses or Antique Roses, these are the varieties of roses that existed before 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea was introduced. Some of the classes of Old Roses are the Albas, Bourbons, Boursaults, Centifolias, Chinas, Damasks, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Mosses, Noisettes, Portlands, and Tea roses. Some of the Ramblers and Rugosas are considered Old Roses.
As a group, Old Roses tend to be once blooming, though some are repeat bloomers. They tend to be more disease‑resistant and require less maintenance than the Hybrid Teas which accounts for some of their popularity. There are exceptions to this, especially the China and Tea roses. The China and Tea roses are tender and disease prone, but are very important because they provide the repeat blooming genes to many classes of roses (notably Hybrid Teas). This FAQ contains a document with more information about Old Roses.Back to topics
Roses that bloom once a year, usually in the spring. Since, they bloom only once a year, when they do bloom they usually put on an excellent show. They flower on old wood, so most pruning is done just after they have finished blooming, not in the winter.Back to topics
An own‑root rose is a plant whose rootstock (the roots) is the same variety as the top of the plant.
Grafted roses, commonly referred to as budded plants, are plants where the desired rose is grafted or budded onto a rootstock of a different type. The point where the desired variety and the rootstock meet is called the bud union.
Own‑root roses are usually recommended for those in very cold climates. This is because an own‑root rose that dies back to the ground during the winter can grow back the next year from the roots. If a grafted rose dies back to the ground, what will come up next Spring is the rootstock variety, usually an undesirable variety of rose.
Even if a rose doesn't die back to the ground. Sometimes a shoot will emerge from the rootstock. If the rose is grafted, this shoot is called a sucker, and will be the same variety of the rootstock, not the desired plant. When this happens with own‑root roses, the shoot will be of the desired variety.
New canes can emerge each year from the bud union of grafted roses. After many years, the bud union of grafted roses can become large and knobby and eventually run out of places for new canes to emerge from. This is not a problem for own‑root roses, since they lack the knobby bud union of grafted roses. Therefore, grafted roses may not last as long as own‑root roses.
Most roses are sold as grafted plants, since it is more economical than selling own‑root plants. A common rootstock is "Dr. Huey", used by J&P and Roses of Yesterday and Today and other nurseries in the western US. It does well in alkaline soils. "Dr. Huey" has a dark red bloom about 2‑1/2 inches in diameter. R. multiflora is commonly is in the eastern US. It prefers acid soil. Wayside uses "Manetti" rootstock.
There has recently been some discussion about R. fortuniana rootstock. It is primarily used in Florida where its root knot nematode resistance is important. Its fine, spreading root network is good for sandy soils. It is not considered to be freeze hardy, so it is only recommended for mild climates.
Don't confuse own‑root roses with bare‑root roses, the terms refer to different things. Roses are usually sold either bare‑root (no soil around the roots) or potted in containers. Bare‑root roses can be either own‑root or grafted. Bare‑root roses tend to be less expensive than potted roses. Since they are lighter (no soil) than potted roses, most mail‑order roses are bare‑root.Back to topics
A rose variety may be patented just like any other plant. A patent grants to the holder exclusive rights to distribute and propagate that variety of rose. Of course the patent holder can license others to distribute and propagate that rose. A patent lasts for 17 years, so most older roses aren't currently under patent. After the patent has expired, anyone can distribute and propagate that particular variety.
Some nurseries divide their roses into patented roses and non‑patented roses, with the patented roses costing more. This is because they may freely propagate the non‑patented varieties, but their is usually a fee for propagating patented varieties.
It is illegal to asexually reproduce a patented plant, even for personal use. It is, however, legal to use a patented rose in hybridizing.Back to topics
Peace is the most popular rose in the world. It is a Hybrid Tea that was smuggled out of France just before the Nazi occupation and introduced just after the end of the World War II. It produces large blooms of yellow blending to pink on the edges. It is not very fragrant.Back to topics
Bare‑root: Roses that are shipped in their dormant state with no foliage. Bare‑root roses are planted during Winter or very‑early Spring.
Container grown: Nurseries will often take bare‑root roses from the rose growers and place them in containers. Container grown roses can be planted any time of the year although it is better to plant when temperatures are moderate, usually Spring or Fall.Back to topics
This fungus forms a powdery white or grayish coating on the upper surface of young leaves and sometimes on the buds. Infected leaves crumple and become distorted.
Unlike blackspot, wet conditions actually inhibit the development of powdery mildew. It can not reproduce in water. It thrives during high humidity but forms on dry leaves. Warm dry days, cool dry nights are ideal for powdery mildew.
One of the best ways to avoid powdery mildew is to keep things as airy as possible. Roses planted too close to a wall may not get enough airflow. Prune away crossing canes and open the center of the bush to allow sunlight and airflow.
Also, spraying the foliage with a mixture of 1 T. baking soda per 1 gallon of water can be effective.
See blackspot for other treatments of powdery mildew.Back to topics
There are two primary ways to propagate roses. Asexual reproduction is usually used to produce a duplicate of the parent plant. Sexual reproduction, i.e. growing roses from seed, is primarily used to create new varieties of roses.
Common methods of asexual propagation of roses are softwood rooting, hardwood rooting, and bud grafting. Limited space permits only a brief description of softwood rooting.
Old Roses, English Roses and Miniatures are generally good candidates for rooting cuttings because they usually grow vigorously on their own roots. Modern Roses such as Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are usually sold budded onto different rootstock. Some Modern Roses do grow vigorously on their own roots, while others do not. Below is a description of softwood rooting from Karen Baldwin with some changes.
Preferably take a cutting on which the bloom is barely spent, so that all the petals have just recently dropped off. It is okay to take a cutting earlier, but at least make sure color is showing in the bud. These are indications of the maturity of the wood in the stem – you want something in between the extremes of greenwood and hardwood.
There are three main purposes to be accomplished when pruning roses.
The proper tool for most pruning is a sharp clean set of bypass pruners. Anvil pruners should not be used for roses as they crush the stem being cut. A saw or lopping shears may be used to cut very large canes (1/2 inch diameter or greater) All pruning cuts on canes greater than 1/4 inch diameter should be sealed with nail polish or glue to prevent cane borers from entering.
Proper pruning will help keep a rose bush healthy. Dead and diseased wood should be removed as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the bush.
The future shape of the bush can be influenced by the location of each pruning cut. Opening up the bush to increase air circulation will help prevent diseases.
Since rose bushes like to send out a strong lateral cane at the node just below a pruning cut, try to make pruning cuts about 1/4 inch above an "outward" facing leaf bud. By doing this and removing plant material from the center of the bush you will create a more open vase‑shaped plant less susceptible to disease. Whenever two canes cross each other, one can be removed.
Roses can be encouraged to bloom better if thin, weak and non‑productive wood is removed to allow the plant to concentrate its blooming on the larger healthier canes. Generally with Hybrid Teas any cane thinner than a pencil should be removed. Plants may be pruned hard to encourage larger blooms but fewer blooms (commonly done with Hybrid Teas.) Or the plant may be pruned lightly and allowed to grow larger and produce more flowers that are smaller (commonly done with some shrub roses.) Prune first year plants only lightly to allow them to concentrate on establishing a strong root system.Back to topics
repeat blooming:(see also once blooming: )
Describes those roses that bloom more than once a year. This varies from those that only bloom a couple times a year to those that are in constant bloom. The terms recurrent or remontant are sometimes used in place of repeat blooming.Back to topics
This fungus is manifest by rust‑colored spots on the underside of leaves and yellow patches on the upper surface of the leaf.Back to topics
Roses prefer a full day of sun. Give roses at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. Morning sun is especially important because it dries the leaves which helps prevent disease.
In general, roses do poorly in shady conditions. Plants bloom less, are leggy, and are more likely to get diseases. However, many Hybrid Musks and some Albas can tolerate partial shade. A few other varieties including the Floribunda "Gruss An Aachen" can be planted in partial shade.
Other roses that may grow in partial shade are the Rugosas, Iceberg(FB), Zephirine Drouhin (Bourbon), Souvenir du Docteur Jamain(HP) and Madame Plantier.Back to topics
Roses like rich, well‑drained soil. Raised beds are ideal. Roses prefer a pH of about 6.5 (6.0‑6.8), slightly acid soil.
Roses dislike competition for nutrients, especially roses that repeat bloom. This means that roses do not like being planted too close to grass and other aggressive neighbors.Back to topics
A sucker is a cane that starts from below the bud union. On grafted roses, suckers should be removed since they are a different type of rose than the main plant. With own‑root roses, suckers can be kept as they are the same type as the main plant and add vigor to the plant.Back to topics
shade:Back to topics
Thrips are tiny insects that do cosmetic damage to roses by ruining the blooms. They may either prevent blooms from opening, or if the blooms do partially open they will have brown or black spots. Thrips prefer light‑colored flowers.
Thrips can be controlled by spraying the buds and blooms with Orthene.Back to topics
There are several types of virus that affect roses, but the most common is the mosaic virus. It causes interesting yellow patterns to form on some of the otherwise healthy green leaves of the plant, hence the name mosaic. Plants with virus will usually live, but they will be less vigorous than non‑virused plants.
Mosaic can not be transmitted from one plant to another by pruning. It can be transmitted by grafting a healthy rose onto a virused rootstock, or less likely, by grafting a virused rose onto a healthy rootstock.Back to topics
Roses appreciate lots of water. Water generously, at least 1 inch/week, preferably 2 inches/week during growing season. Water every 4‑7 days during the summer when needed. Each bush needs about 4‑5 gallons/week during the hot summer.
Roses get all their food either through their leaves (foliar feeding) or through their roots. The only medium for transporting food is water.
Infrequent deep watering is preferred to frequent light watering to help promote a deep root system. Deep root systems help the rose to survive both droughts, and winter freezes. Frequent, light watering causes roots to form very near the soil surface, making the plant more susceptible to summer 'baking' and winter freezes.
Try to avoid getting the leaves wet (which promotes disease) when watering late in the day. However, on hot days wetting the foliage can reduce transpiration and relieves heat stress.Back to topics
Local advice is preferred for this question, but here are some general guidelines for winter care of rose bushes for those living in colder climates. The major dangers to the plant in winter are the drying of the wind, the effect of alternate thawing and freezing cycles on the plant when winter temperatures fluctuate, the inability of the plant to take in water if the soil is frozen, and damage from the cold itself to the canes and bud union.
Cover the bed at least a foot deep with tree leaves. Do not use rose leaves as they may harbor disease. Oak leaves are best as they seem to drain better.