Rose, a perennial shrub with graceful flowers and thorny or hairy stems. The rose grows in temperate climates throughout the world and is a major flower crop in the United States and many other countries. The flower has been widely used as a motif by artists throughout history. It is the national flower of several countries, including the United States and England.

Garden roses and those in florist shops are all descended from the wild rose. About 30 species of wild rose have been cross-bred to develop present-day blooms. Wild roses include the cabbage rose, a large pink blossom native to the Caucasus Mountains of Russia; the damask rose of Syria; and the tea rose, which has the scent of tea, from China.

The prairie roseThe prairie rose bears five pink petals with a cluster of yellow stamens in the center.

Wild roses, flowers of delicate beauty, usually have single rows of five petals. Some wild roses, however, are doubles, with many rows of petals. Cross-breeding of selected doubles has produced blossoms of virtually every color, some with two or more hues. The size of the blossoms ranges from less than one inch (2.5 cm) across for miniature roses to more than seven inches (18 cm) in some varieties. Roses that flower often during a growing season are called everblooming or remontant (French for "repeating").

Many varieties of roses are fragrant. The scents range from the delicate aroma of tea to heady lemon verbena. Fragrance of garden roses is richest in early morning, before the aromatic oil has evaporated from the base of the petals.

Garden roses keep best when cut in late afternoon. Cut roses usually last a week or more. Those that wilt prematurely can be revived by cutting the bottom of the stem at a slant and dipping it in hot water for several minutes and then plunging it into cold water.

Kinds of Roses

There are two general groups, or divisions, of roses: bush roses and climbing roses. Bush roses usually grow from one to six feet (30 to 180 cm) high and need no support. Climbing roses have long canes, or stems, and must be held by a support such as a trellis. The climbing roses may grow 10 feet (3 m) high.

The two groups include 20,000 varieties. The varieties, in turn, are divided into 43 classes, or races, according to such characteristics as flowering habits and ability to withstand winter cold. Among classes and varieties, there is so much cross-breeding that many different roses have some traits in common. Some roses grow as both bush and climbing plants.

The chief classes of bush roses include: hybrid tea; hybrid perpetual; tree; miniature; floribunda; polyantha. The words floribunda and polyantha mean "many flowers"; that is, the roses on these plants grow in clusters. Polyantha blooms are smaller individually than floribunda.

Climbing roses include: rambler; hybrid tea; polyantha; floribunda; trailing. The trailing rose is a climbing rose adapted to planting on walks or banks. Its long canes creep over the ground. On earth banks and slopes, they help hold soil in place.

Garden and Commercial Roses
Hybrid tea rosesHybrid tea roses are everblooming, and most varieties are fragrant.

The most widely grown roses, for both gardens and florist shops, are the hybrid teas. They are everblooming, and most varieties are fragrant. Tree roses, consisting of a number of bush roses grafted to a single cane, give formal accent to garden design. Polyanthas are popular for borders. Floribundas make spectacular beds of roses. Miniature roses, which grow from 6 to 15 inches (15 to 38 cm) high, decorate rock gardens. Hardy climbing roses and bush musk roses make colorful hedges. Some are planted by farmers as wild game cover.

Florists use many miniature roses. The garnet, a deep red miniature, is popular for corsages and boutonnieres. The American Beauty, a long-stemmed deep pink hybrid tea perpetual, was long the ideal of rose beauty, but it has been largely replaced by hardier roses. It was imported from France in 1886. Abroad, roses are grown for attar of roses, an oil distilled from petals for use as the base of some perfumes. The flower is also grown for rose water (petals distilled in water for an after-bath light scent).

Roses can be grown in any good garden earth. They need ample water and drainage, and must be kept free of weeds. Some gardeners plant in autumn; others, in spring. Roses are usually grown from cuttings or by budding, a form of grafting. The two methods tend to keep the strain constant. Planting from seed is usually done by experimenters who are trying to develop a new variety. Inventors of new varieties can seek protection under the United States Plant Patent Act (1930).

Growing roses is a popular hobby. Some blooms are grown for color, such as cream-white or silver-lavender. Others may be grown for many-petaled double blooms. The American Rose Society sponsors rose shows, promotes research, and maintains a library. American Rose Magazine is published monthly. Headquarters are in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Roses belong to the genus Rosa of the rose family, Rosaceae. Ancestors of hybrid roses include Rosa centifolia (cabbage rose); R. damascena (damask); and R. odorata (tea rose).