Garden Better: Rose Guide


The rose has been one of mankind's favorite flowers since prehistoric times. The word "rose" comes from the Latin word "rosa". Some people propose the Latin word "rosa" is an Etruscan (an extinct language spoken in the ancient Eturia) form of the Greek word "Rhoida", meaning "originating from Rhodes".

The beautiful white or red roses we are accustomed to seeing at the local flower store actually belong to a much larger family, called the Rosaceae family. As a quick introduction to taxonomy, a family is lower than an order and higher than a genus. For example, lions, tigers, cheetahs, and house cats all belong to the same biological family of Felidae. The order of these animals is Carnivores, which includes dogs, cats, bears, weasels, and many predatory, flesh eating mammals. The Rose family is part of the Rosales order. According to the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, this order consists of nine families which were found to be related by genetic analysis. For example, the Cannabaceae family (famous for hemp, hackberries, and hops) is together with the rose family in the same order, based on their scientific analysis. It should be noted that not all botanists follow the same classification scheme; many still use the Cronquist system, which groups the rose family together with twenty-three other families in the Rosales order.

The rose family actually comprises of about 3,000 species! The rose family is varied with herbs, trees, shrubs, and climbing plants. Some common members of the rose family that you are probably familiar with include pears, cherries, almonds, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, quinces, loquats, and strawberries. The Rose family is distributed throughout the world but is most commonly found in north temperate regions. The Rose family is distinguished by a few things: firstly, its members have stipules on the leaf. A stipule is an outgrowth at the base of the leafstalk. Secondly, the flowers found in the Rose family have five petals. Third, they have a fleshy fruit, for example, in the rose the fruit is a rose hip. The rose hip is a berry-like structure, usually red in color, which attracts pollinating bees, and contains between five and twenty-five seeds. Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C, they contain twenty times the amount of an orange! Lastly, members of the Rose family are marked by near absence of endosperm in the seed.

The true roses are found in the genus Rosa. Roses are divided into many different categories and classes. The most popular rose today is the Hybrid Tea. This rose is a florist's favorite because of its beautiful range of colors and nice size. Hybrid Tea roses are repeat bloomers, meaning they will bloom throughout their growing season. Also popular are Floribunda, which have smaller flowers in large clusters of ten or more. Old Garden Roses are classes of roses which were known before 1867, the date of the first Hybrid Tea. Some examples of these are Alba, some of the oldest Garden Roses, thought to have been brought to Britain by the Romans. Damasks are characterized by an intense and heavy fragrance; they were brought from Persia to Europe in the 1200's. Centifolia, meaning "one hundred petals", can grow to be over six feet tall.

Thinking of growing your own rose bush? A rose bush is a wonderful addition to any garden, adding beauty and fragrance. However, care has to be taken as rose bushes can be quite delicate. Roses require sunlight, a minimum of six hours daily, and regular watering, especially during warm weather. Roses grow in warm climates and need to be pruned, though how and when to prune is a subject of great disagreement amongst rose experts. Roses also need the right soil to grow in, the ideal soil pH ranges from 6.5 to 6.8., and soils that allow for drainage are the best for roses. Also, it is best for roses to be planted with some space apart from each other and other plants. If you ever notice yellow or black spots on your roses, or you see the flowers and leaves are covered with a white layer, you likely have a fungi problem and should speak to a professional.

Just received a beautiful bouquet of roses? You'll surely want to care for your roses the best you can, keeping them looking fresh and maximizing their lifespan. Here are a few tips on caring for your cut roses. While holding the end of the stem under water, cut off about an inch of the rose stem at an angle. Make sure to give your roses plenty of water, room temperature seems to be the best. If you received flower food with your bouquet, make sure to add it the water. By keeping the water fresh and the roses out of direct sunlight, you will help preserve the beauty of your roses.

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