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Rose Info: is dedicated to collecting reference information on roses - we're not attempting to cover all available information about growing roses - there are many excellent websites in our Rose Links where you can get more detailed information.

On this page are a few of our most frequently asked questions.
Hardiness zones - Naming roses - Florists roses - Why isn't my rose healthy? - When do I plant? - Where can I buy a blue or black rose? - What are rose hips? - Meanings of roses - Diseases - Pests - Classifications of Roses

Q.: I am new to roses - how do I care for them?

A.: The specific advice will vary by the type of rose and your climate, but here are some quick generalities

  • Plant the rose where it has 5 or more hours of sun per day.
  • Water deeply 2 -3 times per week in summer but not to the point of standing water - it has to have good drainage.
  • Give it some rose food in the growing season. Even better, build the soil with manure, compost and/or complete organic fertilizer - see
  • Prune in the dormant season and protect the crown from freezing in winter by mounding mulch over it.
  • Buy a beginner's rose book.

Best advice: Join your local rose club or society - that's where you'll get the best advice on your local growing conditions. In the USA see for your nearest, or search the EveryRose list of clubs and societies

Q.: How do I find out what hardiness Zone I am in?

A.: Here are some links to maps with USDA Hardiness Zone information. The USDA Zones are an index of the coldest winter temperatures - as such they are a good indicator of winter hardiness, but they do not take into account the rest of the climate, such as summer heat, precipitation, wind, snow cover, altitude, etc., so growing conditions can vary widely within the same Zone:

US National Arboretum Includes an explanation of the USDA system, indicator plants and temperature ranges in example cities.
ICanGarden Canadian Zone map
Sunset Western US Zones (note that we are not using the Sunset zones in at this time)

Q.: I would like to have a rose named after a loved one. How do I do this?

A.: Naming a rose is a complex operation that can take 2 - 7 years. If you haven't hybridized your own rose, you will need to find a rose breeder who has a suitable unnamed new variety that has been tested and is ready to register. Then, you need to either persuade or pay them to name the rose as you wish. Once the rose is registered, there is still no assurance that it will be brought into commerce and become a successful variety. See the article A Rose for the Games. Written permission has to be given in order to name a rose after a living person. Contact your national Rose Society (ARS in the US, RNRS in the UK) for more details about registering rose names. You'll find the Societies' addresses under Clubs and Associations in EveryRose.

Q.: I received a beautiful rose in a floral bouquet. How can I find this rose to grow in my garden?

A.: Florist's roses are specially bred for greenhouse growing or growing in tropical climates, and for those long-stemmed, long-lasting flowers. These rose hybrids are not often suitable for garden growing (they are usually not hardy, and are really ugly bushes), and relatively few of them are available to purchase. There are only a a few, such as Bridal White, Antique Silk, Kardinal and Aalsmeer Gold which are both garden and florist's roses.

Q.: My roses are wilting / dying / not opening / not blooming. Why?

A.: Oh boy - this is not easy to diagnose at a distance. All we can do is offer some general guidelines:

  • Basics:
    First, make sure the basics have been met: deep watering 2 - 3 times per week, more often for containers, fertilize as required and make sure they get 5 hours of sun per day.
  • Balling:
    Flowers that don't open may be "balling" as a result of wet weather. This affects some varieties of many-petalled roses more than others, where the bud closes up into a ball and never opens. Nothing to do but wait for better weather, or plant varieties which tolerate rain better.
  • Pests:
    There may be a pest that is affecting the bud or the stem: cane borers, thrips, caterpillars etc: - inspect your roses, and check with your local rose society, nurseries or Agriculture Extension office for the insects that affect your area, how to identify the insects and damage.
  • Waterlogged:
    Poor drainage will cause wilting if the rose's roots are continually saturated. This can be a problem in planters and containers that don't have proper drainage holes. In garden beds that are continually soggy, either relocate the roses to a more suitable bed, or reconstruct the bed with underground gravel drainage channels and add sand to the soil.
  • Diet:
    A specific mineral deficiency is unlikely if you are fertilizing with a general purpose rose food, compost, alfalfa tea &/or organic fertilizer. The most common, iron deficiency, can result in yellowed foliage, and can be corrected with iron-containing fertilizer or foliar sprays. However, not all yellowing is due to iron deficiency - eliminate other causes first.
    Check your local soil conditions and make sure that you are using a balanced fertilizer that is correct for your soil. The more compost and organic materials you can add to the soil the better.
  • Fungus:
    Several fungal diseases are common to roses: Powdery Mildew, Blackspot, Rust, Downy Mildew and Athracnose. Susceptibility to these fungi varies widely with climate and with the variety of rose. Some roses are nearly immune, some require constant spraying. Where information is available, we have noted disease resistance and susceptibility Check out Know Your Spots, Diseases and see the Rose Links for more web sites.
  • Gall:
    Crown gall or root gall may be the problem - these will produce noticeable misshapen swellings at ground level or on the roots. It is incurable - discard both the rose and the soil it was in.
  • Cleanliness:
    Remove diseased leaves from the bush by hand as soon as you can. Clean up all fallen leaves and petals from the ground. Burn or dispose of rose leaves and prunings in the garbage - do not compost. If there is visible disease on the canes, keep pruning the diseased canes off until the rose recovers (bear in mind that some varieties of rose have naturally blotchy looking canes. Compare with others to determine if it is disease). Disinfect your pruners with every cut to prevent spreading disease.
  • Pruning:
    Improper pruning can affect blooming - many climbers only bloom on second-year wood, so if you continually cut them back, you'll never get bloom on the new growth.
    Most important
    - get to your local rose society or club meetings and compare notes with other rose growers in your area. List of clubs and societies.

Q.: How and when do I plant or transplant a rose?

A.: In general, you want to plant or move a rose in the winter or early spring when it is dormant, in order to disturb it as little as possible. See Planting Roses

Q.: Where can I buy a blue rose? Or a black rose?

A.: In short - you can't, because there is no such thing. A true blue rose has been the "holy grail" of rose breeders for hundreds of years, however roses simply do not have the genes to produce a blue colour. You may have seen photos of a "blue" rose on the Internet - these are forgeries.

We may see a genetically modified rose in years to come (Suntory in Japan is working on this) but as of this date there have been no breakthroughs. The roses with "Blue" in their names are wishful thinking - they are mostly a pale lavender colour. Similarly for black roses, there are very dark reds, and dark purples, and some red varieties have petals that burn to black in the sun, but there are no true blacks.

Q.: What are Rose Hips?

A.: Hips are the fruit of the rose, they develop from pollinated flowers. Hips can be anywhere from pea-sized up to the size of a small apple. They vary in size, shape and colour (yellow, orange, maroon, red) by the particular rose variety - some rose varieties don't set hips at all.

When you deadhead a rose, you are preventing hips from forming from the spent flowers -- this is done to encourage more bloom. Once hips are set, the rose cuts back on blooming and puts it energy into fruit formation.

Leaving attractive hips on a rose over the winter gives some colour to a winter garden. It is said that hips provide winter food for birds, but we have never seen evidence of that around here.

Rose hips are high in Vitamin C, and some people use them in teas. Be aware though that the inside of the hip has stiff hairs around the seeds that are irritating (think nettles or fiberglass slivers) so eating raw is not recommended. Of course, do not choose for culinary use hips or petals from any rose unless you know for certain that they have not been sprayed with fungicide or insecticide. Some fungicides are systemic, which means they are absorbed into the tissues of the plant - these cannot be removed by washing.

Q.: What does a yellow rose mean?

A: The Language of Roses:

There are many associations made between the flowers and the range of human emotions. The "language" of flowers is thought to have originated in Persia in the fifteenth century, and was brought to Europe in the eighteenth. In the nineteenth century, this "floral code" became more elaborate, so that complex messages could be sent between people in bouquets. With each flower and colour having a specific meaning, conversations between courting couples could be carried out over extended periods of time without a single word being used.

Specific to roses, the colours can mean the following:






True Love
Romantic Love
I Love You
Job Well Done
I Care
Welcome Back
Remember Me
Perfect Happiness
Please Believe Me
I Am Worthy Of You
Keep A Secret

Light Pink

Dark Pink

Peach Pink



Thankfulness Gratitude
Let's Get Together


Red & White


Deep Burgundy

Red and Yellow Blend

Desire Unity Farewell
Unconscious beauty Jovial and happy feelings

Other meanings:

Austrian Rose (Rosa foetida): Thou art all that is lovely
Cabbage Rose: Ambassador of love
Carolina Rose: Love is dangerous
Crown of roses: Reward of virtue
Damask Rose: Beauty ever new
Faded rose: Beauty is fleeting
Hybrid tea roses: "I'll remember you always"
Leaves: I am never importunate, Hope
Moss bud: Confession of love
Pale colors: Sociability and friendship
Provence Rose: My heart is in flames
Red bud: You are young and beautiful
Rosa canina: Pleasure mixed with pain
Rosa multiflora: Grace
Rosa mundi (striped): Variety
Rose in a tuft of grass: There is everything to be gained by good company
Rose bloom over two buds: Secrecy
Single rose: Simplicity
Thorn: Danger
Two roses joined together: Engagement or coming marriage
White bud: Youthfulness, "Too young for love"
Withered white rose: You made no impression


Bent to the right - "I"
Bent to the left - "You"
Ribbon knotted on the left: Message from the giver
Ribbon knotted on the right: Message about the recipient
Accepted with right hand: Agreement, affirmative
Accepted with left hand: Disagreement, negative
Worn over heart: Love
Worn in hair: Caution
Worn in clevage: Frendship, Rememberance

This list was compiled from a variety of sources, and only touches the surface of the language of flowers.

More flower meanings can be found at Columbine's Language of Flowers and Speaking of Flowers. Rose Database with variety & growing information on over 7,500 breeds of roses, flower photos, and gardeners' reviews.

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