Return to Library Home Page

Scientific: Rosa sp. (The genus Rosa is arguably subdivided taxonomically into three subgenera and eight sections)
Common: rose
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: Rose species are broadly distributed throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

Pronounciation: ROW-sa SPEE-shees

Hardiness zones

Landscape Use: Specimen, focal point, entry way accent, fragrance gardens, espalier, nostalgic gardens, destination gardens, cut flowers, container plant, medicinal herb, perfumes and oils (the nation of Bulgaria is a major exporter of rose oils and perfumes). Much of rose cut flower production comes from Ecuador in South America. Miniature roses are great for small scale landscape plantings.

Form & Character: Variable form and character ranging from informal to formal, historical, upright, stiff, bright, colorful, and regal to sprawling, unbridled, carefree.

Growth Habit: Roses are deciduous or evergreen, semi-woody, broadleaf perennial shrubs or vines; highly varied! Rose habit of growth (height branching and spread) is dependent on general subdivision and cultivated variety ranging from stiff, open and vigorously upright to full, prostrate and spreading.

Foliage/Texture: Variable, but usually 2- to 4-inches long, ranging from simple and entire to pinnately compound, ovate to oval in shape, alternate, finely serrate, new leaves often reddish to bronze, stems usually well armed with sharp, pointed prickles (note that technically roses do not have thorns which are are outgrowths from the sub-epidermal shoot material, but rather prickles which are outgrowths from the stem's outermost epidermal layer of cells); medium coarse to medium fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers either singular or in clusters, terminal on extended stalks, radially symmetrical, five petals and five sepals, sepals and petals attach individually to the base of the receptacle forming a floral cup, many colors; aggregate fruit (known as a "rose hip" and "rose haw") is edible and pomaceous, typically red-to-orange, occasionally dark purple-to-black. Rose fruit are particularly high in Vitamin C with about 1700 to 2000 mg per 100 g in the dried product.

Seasonal Color: Roses produce flowers in a wide range of flower colors. The length of rose flowering depends on the species and cultivated variety, and ranges from a few weeks in the early spring to throughout most of the year.

Temperature: Hardy

Light: Full sun is best. Partial shade from western sun depending on the surrounding landscape (relatively mesic verses dry) might also be desirable.

Soil: Roses are generally tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but best performance is most often realized in the southwest when soils are amended with organic matter and mulched with an coarse organic bark product. Decomposing granite or other inorganic mulches absorb, reflect and conduct heat causing roses plants to undergo heat stress during the summer months. Roses have a high nutrient demand and will need a regular fertilizer program under southwest conditions to maintain vigor.

Watering: Roses need to be irrigated thoroughly on a regular bases throughout the year in the southwest. Roses are generally salt sensitive, so a thorough watering of normally alkaline desert soils is necessary, especially when irrigating with water that has a total dissolved solid concentration of greater than 600 ppm.

Pruning: Unless collection of rose hips (fruit) is desired, remove spent flowers (and stalk). Otherwise, roses are very adapt and responsive to pruning of almost any severity. Most pruning strategies should be designed to promote plant vigor and flowering (this will depend on species and seasonality of growth and flowering), while secondarily controlling height and spread.

Propagation: Softwood and hardwood cuttings

Disease and Pests: Disease and pest pressures on rose are correlated in large part to atmospheric humidity. The dry air climate of the desert southwest means that roses generally experience fewer foliar disease and pest problems that in more humid climates. Watch out for deer however as they love to munch on tender hybrid rose flowers and shoots.

Additional comments: Roses are much beloved by all people and occupy a special place of significance in many cultures. Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. Depending on the species and cultivated variety, roses can range from needing to be intensively managed to being very low maintenance.

Here are some rose links:

  • Mesa-East Valley Rose Society
  • Phoenix Rose Society
  • Rose Society of Glendale, Arizona
  • Jackson & Perkins roses
  • Different kinds of roses
  • Rosa multifora an Asian invasive rose species in North America
  • Rose Problems and Diseases
  • Pruning roses in Arizona