“garden” roses

Rosa hybridia Modern shrub, or garden, rose Photo courtesy of Flower Transfer
Rosa hybridia
Modern shrub, or garden, rose
Photo courtesy of Flower Transfer

These fragrant beauties are gaining favor for weddings and other events.
by Steven W. Brown, AIFD

1 new on the block. Although many types of roses have been available since floristry began, “garden” roses, which are more accurately known as modern shrub roses, have long been overlooked as commercial cut flowers because they tended to have a poor shelf life and didn’t survive shipping well. But today, new varieties are emerging as among the most popular flowers in the industry.

2 the difference. Over the last 12 years, hybridizers have developed and released “garden” rose varieties that meet the demands of the cut flower industry. They are different from traditional hybrid tea roses because they have strong fragrance and high petal counts, and they form sprays of large flower heads. The blossoms explode into large, peonylike flowers and have rich, musky, spicy or fruity scents.

3 popular varieties. “Garden” roses have been bred by major hybridizers like David Austin Roses in England, Rosen Tantau in Germany and Meilland International in southern France.

4 huge economics. Roses are members of the Rosaceae family. Although the genus Rosa is a relatively small group within the family, it is one of the most economically important, encompassing relatives that feed, clothe, shelter and medicate us. The family includes pears, plums, strawberries, Cotoneaster and mountain ash.

5 colors abound. Roses are available in every hue—both solid and multicolored—except blue. The most commercially available colors are pink, red, burgundy, white, cream, orange, peach and yellow, and combinations thereof.

6 selection day. Order “garden” roses well in advance of need for best selection. Avoid fully opened or soft flowers, limp stems, damaged or diseased foliage, and flower heads with mold or pressure spots indicating rot. Purchase flowers that feel firm and have turgid stems and healthy green foliage.

7 emergency care. Re-search estimates that 30 percent of a rose’s vase life is lost in the shipping process, so hydrate the flowers immediately upon receipt. First, remove all leaves and thorns that will fall beneath the water line with a rose stripper or soft cloth. Cut at least 1 inch from each stem, then dip or place the stems into a hydration solution. After treatment, store the roses in a properly prepared fresh flower food solution for at least two hours at 34 F to 36 F with relative humidity at 80 percent to 90 percent.

8 optimum vase life. With proper treatment, “garden” roses should last from six to 12 days. Give consumers packets of fresh flower food, and instruct them to change the water and recut the stems every other day.

9 through the ages. Roses unfurled their scented petals before mankind existed. Fossils found in Colorado and Oregon are estimated to be 32 million years old, and there are records of rose breeding in Asia and Europe from more than 2,000 years ago. Today, there are hundreds of rose species and more than 30,000 cultivars.

10 love and romance. The rose is known as the “queen of flowers.” It is the symbol of grace and beauty, the emblem of kings and paradise, an ingredient of magic and medicine, an architectural embellishment and a decoration on money. It is the inspiration of poetic verse and endless declarations of love.

Thanks to Flower Transfer, Miami, www.flowertransferbrokerage.com; David Austin Roses,www.davidaustinroses.com; Rosen Tantau, www.rosen-tantau.com/english; and Meilland International, www.meilland.com

Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco with 28 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry. You may contact him by e-mail at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.