Glossary of Rose Terminology
Chatty summary of some useful rose growing language.
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Stamens - The male reproductive organ of the flower producing pollen. Used in these pages (erroneously) to mean the collection of reproductive organs at the center of a rose sometimes posessing a distinctive color or structure that adds special interest to the flower.

Tea Rose - One of a group of remontant roses said to smell of green tea, typically bred between 1840 and 1920. Tea roses are close decendents of a group of China Roses that included Old Blush and several other highly remontant roses. They are also closely related rosa gigantea from which they sometimes get lanky growth and silky-textured petals. This group includes Lady Hillingdon, and Perle des Jardins. They generally do well where the weather is warm and sunny most of the year: Southern France, Southern California, and so on.

Tetraploid - Having four times the haploid number of chromosomes. If, for example, the haploid number is 7, then a tetraploid organism would have 28 chromosomes. Hybrid tea roses and floribundas are tetraploid as are gallicas. Rosa moschata, rosa gigantea and tea roses are diploid. Some original china roses are diploid and some ar triploid. Triploid roses do not create seeds, but somtimes their pollen is fertile.

Albas and rosa moyesii are hexaploid. When one crosses diploid roses with tetraploid roses the result is frequently a sterile triploid rose. Occasionally the resulting rose is tetraploid. When this occurs, it is a remarkable breakthrough. Such a breakthrough was required somewhere along the path of creating hybrid tea roses.

Vegetative Propagation - Plants can reproduce in two ways. In the first, the old fashioned way, seeds are produced that include genetic material from two plants. The seed is planted, and it grows. This method, we assume, is more fun for the plants. It is also more exciting for the rose breeder, for this is the only way to get new cultivars - or was until recently.

The other is vegetatively. Many plants including most roses will produce roots if their stems are buried. This is a simple and naturally occuring kind of vegetative propagation.

More often, woody pieces of garden plants are trimmed from a plant, dipped in rooting hormone and kept under just the right light, temperature, and humidity conditions. The cutting sprouts roots and leaves. And if one can keep up with it, one can keep it as a new plant.

This is the way virtually all commercially available own-root roses are propagated.

Finally, roses can be reproduced by grafting or budding: in both cases a bit of the desired cultivar is attached to rootstock of some other cultivar.

Virus - At least two viruses infest roses. One is the dreaded wilt virus which occurs chiefly in Australia, Asia, and Italy. This virus, which kills and blackens canes can be toxic to a plant. The other is the mosaic virus which makes yellow markings on leaves. It was once claimed that it is harmless, but some controlled tests have shown that it weakens plant growth, decreases vigor, and shortens plant life.

Own-root plants have a somewhat better chance of being virus-free, because if the rootstock to which a rose is grafted has the virus, it will be spread to the new cutting. Roses budded to rootstock that has been raised from seed are also more likely to be virus-free since the virus is not passed through the seeds.


Own-Root - A plant that is not budded or grafted onto rootstock from another rose. See budded and grafted above.

Polyantha - Any of a group of early cluster-flowered roses that have not been developed by breeding Hybrid Teas with Polyanthas. Polyanthas generally have small or even tiny roses, but they bear them in large clusters, sometimes managing to completely cover a plant in blossom. They predate Floribundas and are their ancestors; Floribundas having been bred from Polyanthas and Hybrid Teas.[4]

Portland - Any of a group of somewhat remontant roses bred from 'The Portland Rose, ' which is presumed to have Gallica, Autumn Damask, and perhaps China in its parentage. They are typically short and upright, have a fine Damask scent, and bloom at least twice a year. Several are nearly perfectly quartered including Rose de Rescht and Compte de Chambord. While the group was quickly overshadowed by the Bourbons, it was to be influential long after by parenting the Hybrid Perpetuals.[3]

Prune - To remove woody material from a plant, usually by cutting with shears or secateurs. A rose is pruned first by removing dead and diseased wood, then by selectively removing and trimming canes to maintain shape.

Rosa foetida - This species is reputed to be a common ancestor of most reds and yellows among Hybrid Teas. It is wise to note that this species has a weakness for blackspot. So do certain Chinas, which are also part of the genetic make-up of Hybrid Teas. Breeders who fail to take care in breeding and testing can release roses that are especially prone to this disease. Breeders are very much aware of this and have been working hard to release plants that don't display this weakness. Nevetheless, keep this in mind when buying roses. It is frequently said that in selecting red hybrid teas one must settle for either fragrance or disease-resistance.

Rosa kordesii - This is one of a tiny number of species roses bred by man (another is r. lutea, a yellow used by Pernet-Ducher to create Soleil d'Or). Kordes worked for decades to do so and finally succeded in crossing rosa rugosa with rosa wichuriana. (more correctly Max Graf is this cross and r kordesii is the fertile seedling obtained by self-pollinating this plant for decades.)

It is less important as a garden specimen than as an ancestor to roses that are tough, vigorous, and disease-free. Silver Jubilee, the highest ARS-rated hybrid tea has a kordesii ancestor. So do Dortmund and John Cabot, the second and third highest rated climbers.

Remontant - Repeat blooming. A rose that bears flowers on two or more occasions or over a large number of weeks is said to be remontant. A rose that bears flowers over a greater number of weeks than some other remontant rose is sometimes said to be more remontant.

Rust - The most devastating of the common rose fungal diseases, and fortunately also the most rare. It is characterized by reddish brown rusty looking splotches on foliage. It is best treated immediately, for roses susceptible to the disease are at risk of losing their leaves and possibly dying.[2]

Species - A distinct group of organisms that interbreed to produce organisms substatively the same as the parents.

Species roses are roses that appear naturally in the wild - at least most of them are.

Sport - Occasionally a rose will produce a cane that behaves differently. Sometimes the flowers on that cane will be a slightly different color , sometimes the cane may grow to a dramatically different length as in the case of a climber, sometimes a plant that is not remontant will grow a cane that is remontant. In each of these cases the cane with the new characteristics can be cut, caused to sprout roots, and become a new plant. Ophelia is an example of the first - having at least four direct sports of various colors. Madame Testout and Iceberg are examples of the second - having climbing sports of lower growing plants. New Dawn is an example of the third - an everblooming sport of Dr. Van Fleet.

Roses for Every Garden