Roses – Basic Facts
The common rose, which is part of the Rosaceae family, comes in the shape of a woody perennial flowering plant, boasting 100 species and thousands of cultivars. From erect shrubs to climbing and trailing plants (often embellished with sharp prickles) each and every style varies in both shape and size. Choose from compact and miniature roses, to variants that grow up to seven meters in height! Renowned for their large and bold flowers, with shades ranging from crisp and delicate white through to vibrant yellows and deep reds, roses are adored for their beauty and fragrance, and also because they’re extremely hard wearing plants that can last for many years.
Most roses are deciduous but a few species native to South East Asia are evergreen. Originating from Asia, with a slighter number native to North America, Europe and northwest Africa, it’s hard to know exactly where the name ‘rose’ came from. Some believe it to be French, whilst others say it was borrowed from Oscan or an old Persian or Greek word.
Rose Petals, Thorns & Hips
The majority of rose species boast flowers brandishing five petals, with the exception of Rosa sericea, which is unique in that it has just four. Each petal is usually pink or white in shade, and is divided into two distinct lobes. There are however a few species that have yellow or red petals. Beneath the petals, five sepals sit. One of a Roses‘ many qualities is that it is insect-pollinated in nature. Rose thorns come in the shape of outgrowths of the epidermis and are often referred to as prickles, which are traditionally sickle-shaped hooks. They help the rose to hang onto other vegetation when growing over it, whilst also protecting them from animals. Rose hips, the aggregate fruit of the rose comes in the shape of a berry-like structure.
Only a select few species are able to produce hips – as the majority of species are so tightly petalled that they won’t allow for pollination. The hips tend to be red in colour, although the likes of Rosa pimpinellifolia has dark purple to black hips. Each hip has an outer fleshy layer, named the hypanthium, which carries anything from 5-160 seeds. Both Rosa canina and Rosa rugosa possess hips that are extremely rich in vitamin C; in fact, they’re among the richest sources of any plant.
The hips are also a source of protein to fruit-eating birds, including waxwings and thrushes.
Rose hips in food and drink
Rose hips are sometimes used to create tasty, sweet smelling jams, preserves, jellies and marmalade.
It’s also used in some health beneficial soups because of its high vitamin C content and brewed for tea.
Other foodstuffs include rose hip syrup and rose hip seed oil, which is commonly found in skin products and makeup items.
Rosa Canina hips
Rose water has a very fragrant flavour and is used a great deal in both Persian and Middle Eastern dishes.
If you’ve travelled to either of these areas, you’ll most likely have tried it in sweets such as gumdrops nougat, raahat and baklava.
Uses of Roses
Roses are ornamental plants and are grown both indoors and outdoors for their beautiful flowers. Additional uses include commercial perfumery and cut flower crops – often a traditional gift on Valentine’s Day.
Would you appreciate such a gift? Green fingered connoisseurs use roses for hedging, as landscape plants, game cover and slope stabilisation. They also have a number of minor medicinal uses and are often found in skin care products due to their soothing nature.
Ornamental roses come in the shape of hybrids, bred for their trademark flowers. Both Rosa glauca and Rosa rubiginosa brandish embellished thorns and are celebrated for their showy fruit. In the early 19th century the Empress Josephine of France ordered her gardens at the Malmaison to be filled with roses of various species. Ornamental roses have in fact existed for many, many years, with the earliest known cultivation dating back to 500 BC.
2. Cut flowers
From a dozen red roses to a bouquet of pink and white roses, cut roses are often a florist’s biggest seller and are a crop suited to both domestic and commercial environments. Traditionally, they are harvested and cut when in bud, and to preserve their beauty, they are kept in very cold conditions until ready for display. In colder climates, cut roses are grown in greenhouses, and in warmer climates, they flourish under cover so that their flowers are protected from harsh weathers, diseases and pests. A huge number of roses are grown in tropical countries, and are shipped by air to markets across the globe.
Today, the rose family has taken on a modern revamp with many of the petals artificially coloured using dyed water. These rainbow roses are a popular choice today and can make great gifts for any occasion.
Most will be familiar with both Rose oil and Rose water, whether in perfumes or various skin care products. Rose fragrances tend to be created from rose oil (attar of roses), which is a combination of essential oils, created through distilling the crushed petals of roses with steam. Rose water on the other hand is often used in cooking, medicine, cosmetics and religious practices and the oil is a clear to pale yellow colour. The production technique originally began in Persia, before being introduced to Arabia and India, and more recently, Eastern Europe, whilst Rosa Centifolia is used in other parts of the world. A darker, purer oil comes in the form of ‘Rose Absolute’. This solvent, which is extracted with hexane, boasts a dark yellow to orange hue. It takes an incredible two thousand flowers to produce just one gram of this precious oil.
4. Food and drink
The French use a great deal of rose syrup, traditionally created using an extract of rose petals. In America, the same rose syrup is used to make marshmallows and rose scones, whilst in India it’s used to create Rooh Afza, kulfi and rose-flavoured ice cream. Rose petals and flower buds are often used to add a fragrant flavour to ordinary tea, or mixed with other sweet scented herbs to create herbal teas. Rose flowers are also used to decorate food, especially candied rose petals. They also add flavour to a number of sweet and savoury creations. Rose creams are a fine example – this British made rose flavoured fondant swathed in chocolate and adorned with a crystallised rose petal is a welcome treat in the UK.
The fruits of many rose species boast high vitamin content and have been used for many years as food supplements. In the past, roses have been associated with both herbal and folk medicines. The Chinese use Rosa Chinens in traditional medicines to cure a number of stomach ailments. This particular specie has also been associated with controlling cancer growth.
6. Culture and Art
Roses are a prime subject for many artists and have adorned a number of illustrations, portraits, stamps and ornaments over the years. They are also seen in architectural structures. One such artist who uses roses a great deal in his work is Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the Luxembourg-born Belgian artist and botanist. Other celebrated impressionists who portray their love for the rose through art include Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Unfortunately, wild roses are home to a variety of pests and diseases. When you have them in your own homes and gardens, it’s important to learn more about these ailments as they can be prevented with treatment and good care.
Common rose diseases include:
- Rose black spots – these spots are caused by fungus. You can prevent them with adequate planting sites, the use of resistant cultivars, and pruning. Once they appeared, unfortunately once the spots appear they will stay until the leaves falls off. Spray the new leaves to prevent more black spots from occurring. More details here.
- Rose powdery mildew – common disease with white, powdery fungal growth on leaves and flower buds. There are non chemical way of addressing it, which you can find here. Chemical controls are widely available in garden centers.
- Rose leaf-rolling sawfly – insect that causes tightly rolled up rose leaves. Chemical and non chemical treatment options here.
- Rose dieback – very common for most roses, can be caused by weather conditions, poor care or diseases or any combination of these. How to treat rose dieback information can be found here.
- Aphids – these sap sucking insects can cause a number of rose problems, including distorted growth, sticky substance on foliage and other. Luckily aphids have some natural enemies including ladybugs, so there are relatively few non chemical ways of getting rid of them.
Taking Care of Roses
Fresh Cut Roses
- Just like you arriving home after a long journey, your roses also need a little care before they settle in their new home. Cut the tie or string holding the roses together. Peel of any outer petals that may have been bruised on their journey and remove any leaves that fall below the water level of your vase.
- To make sure your roses can get hydrated fast and stay healthy, give them a little trim before placing them to a vase. Cut about 3cm off each rose at 45 degree angle. Even better if you can cut them under running water, they will appreciate it.
- Empty the plant food that came with your bouquet into the vase with water (don’t forget to clean the vase before filling it with water). Make sure the water you use is room temperature. Just like wine, roses like their water to be the same temperature as their new surroundings.
- Place your roses in a vase and find a comfortable place for them – away from bright lights, sunshine and drafts. All there’s left to do is to enjoy your new guests!
- Your planted garden roses need just few things to keep them happy – first of all feeding. In addition to regular watering, garden roses will benefit from plant food too. Folia feeding has been recommended by nursery owners as one of the best ways to have happy roses. Use liquid rose food that can be diluted in water and sprayed also on leaves, which helps to prevent various diseases.
- Do not feed your garden roses in late summer or in autumn. This will just promote new softer growth that will be killed by the first frosts. Start feeding them at the beginning of the season when they start growing and then again two to three weeks.
- Use well rotted farmyard or horse manure to provide mulch for your roses – this will keep the soil moist in hot months, keep the weeds at minimum and protect against diseases.
- Pruning should be done with extra care. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just follow a simple guide in here.
- Cut off any hips that form on the roses as these will just drain energy and nutrients from it. If you do this regularly your roses will continue to grow flowering shoots.
- Keep an eye for any first spots of diseases and try to tackle them early (see above for common diseases)
7 ways to reuse Rose Petals
If you bought or were lucky enough to receive fresh cut roses and they are slowly starting to wilt down, there are few things you can do to preserve some of their beauty. Choose between turning them into a beauty product, displaying them as an art or taking the most out of their fragrance and making potpourri. For most of these tutorials, you will need to use dried rose petals. There are few options how to dry rose petals.
You can let them air dry, use an oven or even microwave. If you’re using rose petals for cooking or in desserts, make sure they haven’t been sprayed and are clean.
1. DIY scrub with rose petals
Why waste your money on expensive body scrub, when you can have something home made with just three ingredients!
2. Rose Petal Phone Case
Use rose petals as a pretty decoration for your phone case. Very simple to make, tutorial here.
3. Rose petal and cardamom kulfi
Turn your rose petals into a delicious treat.
A recipe by Reza Mahammad, well known authority for Indian cooking, this kulfi combines just a few ingredients and is very simple to make.
All you need is rose petals, rose syrup, cardanom, milk, cream and pistachios. Full recipe here.
4. Rose Water
Another way to use your rose petals for a beauty product. Did you know rose water has actually some amazing beauty benefits?
It has been used for thousands of years as skin tonic, and can help you to tighten the pores, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, freshen your complexion and even slow down the ageing process.
Enough reasons to give it a try? Here is the tutorial.
5. Rose infused Oil
Even more concentrated way to use rose petals is to turn them into rose infused oil, instead of water.
6. Make an Art
Why not turn your rose petal into a piece of art? Get inspired by this artist and make one of your own to proudly display on your walls.
7. Rose and clove potpourri
Probably not that new, but still one of the most popular ways to use rose petals. Add a warm spicy fragrance to your home.
Roses come in many shapes and sizes, with each variant symbolizing a specific meaning. Whether you’re in love or wish to congratulate a certain somebody, red roses make for a popular gift and have done so for many years.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like a dozen red roses – just one of the reasons the red rose has been nicknamed the lover’s rose. Asides from signifying these three powerful words, red roses are also a symbol of commitment and endless affection. A traditional red rose implies courage and respect – especially for fallen soldiers – whilst dark red roses represent a rare beauty. For many years, various cultures have used red roses as decorations for marriage ceremonies and they are still to this day, symbolic and synonymous of love and romance around the world.
Where are red roses used?
Red roses are used by people in a variety of ways, the most common being as a direct expression of romantic love. Sending a special someone a dozen red roses – particularly on Valentine’s Day or at the beginning of blossoming relationship – is a well-known ritual. In fact, the tradition of using red roses in floral wedding arrangements dates back centuries. In some cases, roses are sent as a rueful measure to a partner or lover to make amends for a mistake or misconduct.
What colours are available?
Long before civilised times, the colour red has symbolised fire and heat, which is why the red rose is often given as a gift by those who wish to express strong emotions. Colours from SerenataFlowers.com range from bright red to a deep burgundy hue, with varieties including everything from Charlotte and Forever Young to Classy and Rouge Baiser. Red roses are often presented to a loved one to signify feelings of affection, passion and respect.
The exact shade of red you choose has a meaning as well. For example, a bouquet of bright red roses implies love, whilst a burgundy bouquet signifies unconditional adoration. Furthermore, dark crimson is used to show mourning and a single red rosebud suggests youthful love and beauty.
How many roses should I give?
Asides from the colour, the quantity you give as a gift can also have a distinctive meaning. Whilst a single red rose is an expression of love, a dozen red roses signify feelings of gratitude. If you wish to congratulate a certain somebody, then twenty-five roses are the perfect number to give – fifty roses on the other hand show unconditional love and two red roses joined together are often presented to those celebrating an engagement.
Both romantic acts and thoughtful surprises are just a few of the actions associated with Valentine’s Day. There are also many out there who deem a bouquet of freshly cut red roses to be the definitive symbol of love and affection. If you’re lucky enough to be gifted with a beautiful bouquet of these exquisite flowers from Serenata Flowers, you will want to make sure they last as long as possible.
Prolonging their life
In order to keep your red roses looking their best for as long as possible, it’s important to remove them from their wrapping immediately. Prior to displaying them in your home, it’s recommended you cut at least 2cm from each stem. To avoid damaging the stems and their ability to take up water, it’s a good idea to use sharp secateurs or scissors when performing this simple but effective task.
After trimming the stems and removing any dead or unwanted leaves, fill a vase with a generous amount of water, along with a sachet of flower food (this usually comes with the flowers). To ensure your beautiful bouquet stays in tip top condition for as long as possible, it’s a good idea to change the water every two to three days – any leaves or thorns that fall below the water line should be removed to avoid a build up of algae and bacteria.
Bouquets of beautiful vibrant red roses are guaranteed to brighten up any room – whether in an office environment or at home. When displaying your flowers, it’s important to remember roses are an extremely delicate blossom – keeping them out of direct sunlight is therefore a must – especially if you wish to prolong their lifespan.
Asides from Valentine’s Day and Birthdays, red roses are also a great option during Christmas time. Roses work well especially when part of a floral arrangement consisting of elegant red Lilies and gold glittering Gypsophila. Bright reds and gorgeous gold hues are guaranteed to capture the festive season perfectly – regardless of whether you buy them for a loved one or as a well-deserved treat for yours truly.
A rose is a rose is a…or is it? Quality and size of roses varies greatly and rose growers vary their prices of red roses accordingly.