Rose Glossary

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Thanks to Regan Nursery and for entries!


AARS: All-America Rose an association of commercial rose growers and sellers that sponsors a nationwide program of rose trials each year.

Alba: A class of roses thought to have originated from natural cross pollination between Rosa canina and Damask Roses. Romans grew Albas in ancient times for medicinal and cultural uses. The blossoms of white or pale pink are held on long, arching canes.

Anti-transpirant: A spray, usually water-based, that when applied to the canes and leaves of a rose bush will keep it from dehydrating. Beware of oil-based sprays as they might burn foliage during the growing season.

Antique rose: A casual term used to describe old roses. As there is no official demarcation point that makes a rose an antique, there are many perspectives. Some rosarians prefer 1867, the year in which La France was introduced. Others prefer 1900 or 1945.

Aphids: Aphids are tiny oval light green (usually) bugs that particularly enjoy feasting on new growth. They suck out the juices of leaves and stems. They also secrete a sticky substance that is attractive to ants. You can knock off aphids by spraying them with water. Or you can use Lady bugs (lady beetles).

ARS: American Rose Society. An association of over 20,000 rose enthusiasts, dues include a subscription to The American Rose magazine.

Asexual reproduction: 1. Reproduction by cloning. 2. The means by which hybrid roses are reproduced through either budding or growing a cutting on its own roots.




Balling: The inability of a bud to open into a bloom because excess moisture has caused the petals to stick together.

Bareroot: 1. Any plant presented in a dormant state without soil on its roots. 2. The traditional means of selling a rose plant, 3. Still the best way to buy a rose plant.

Basal break: 1. Vigorous new shoots that emerge directly from the Bud Union. 2. That part of the rose that should be spared when pruning at the expense of older, less vigorous growth, 3. What most rosarians lust after each spring.

Blackspot: Disease caused by the fungus Marssonina rosae that manifests itself during warm, humid weather. As the name suggests, symptoms start as black spots on the leaves.

Blind shoot: A stem that fails to develop a bud, often in response to low light and temperature levels.

Bordeaux mixture: A mixture of copper sulfate, lime and water used as a fungicide to control downy mildew and other fungal diseases.

Border: A garden scheme commonly found in England in which a long narrow bed is planted with a variety of annuals and perennials according to their height. The desired effect is to create a sloping display of color, form and texture.

Bourbon: A class of roses that originated on the lie of Bourbon (now Reunion Island) near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and are thought to have originated from wild crosses between the China Old Blush and Autumn Damask. The blooms are often cupped.

Bud (Flower): The swollen portion at the end of a stem that will mature into a flower.

Bud eye: The swollen area found near the union of the leaf with the stem that will grow into a new stem.

Bud union: The swollen area at the top of the shank from which new canes (basal breaks) emerge. In climates with extreme heat or cold, it is best to protect the bud union by planting it below the soil level and mulching over the top.

Budding: A means of propagating a hybrid rose in which a bud eye of one rose is inserted under the bark of a rootstock so that the vigor of the roots will cause the budeye to grow..

Budwood: Mature or semi-mature stems harvested as a source of bud eyes for new propagation.




Calyx: The group of tough outer petals that protect the bud before it opens. Individually these petals are called sepals.

Cane: The supportive branches of a rosebush. Canes are distinguished from stems in that they have hardened and have greater caliper.

Centifolia: A class of roses thought to have originated from a wild cross between Autumn Damask and an Alba. Also known as Cabbage Roses in Europe for their globular form, the name Centifolias literally means "one hundred petals".

China: A class of roses cultivated in China for centuries prior to their discovery by the Europeans around 1800. Of particular interest was their ability to rebloom throughout the summer, a trait not shared by European roses of the day.

Classification: The on-going effort to assign every rose into a specific compartment according to its growth habits and/or genealogy so that we may succinctly describe groups of roses. Classification will always be the subject of debate as roses at the margin of one group might also fit inside the margin of an adjacent group. There are differing models of rose classification in use throughout the world.

Climbing rose: The name given to the climbing form of a bush rose, as in Climbing Iceberg or Climbing Mister Lincoln. Roses that originate in a climbing form (as opposed to sporting from a bush form) generally do not have "Climbing" in their name, as in Altissimo or Royal Sunset. See also: Large-flowered climber.

Cluster-flowered rose: The name used in Britain and Europe to describe the roses that Americans call floribundas.

Codename (aka: Denomination): A unique name given to a new rose by its hybridizer that will be used internationally to identify the Cultivar. Generally, the first three letters are derived from the Hybridizer's last name and are presented in capitals. As roses are often marketed under different names in different countries a unique codename will help rosarians keep things straight. FRYxotic, a 1998 AARS winner, is known as Sunset Celebration in the US and as Warm Wishes in Europe.

Companion Planting: Some rosarians believe the only good companion plants for their roses are other roses. Other rosarians disagree and include other plants, herbs, perennials, annuals, with their roses. Both sides make good argruments. Ultimately, you will decide what works best in your garden.

Cornell Formula: A fungicide mixture made of household ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, water, and vegetable oil.

Cultivar (aka: variety): A cultivated variety selected for propagation based on specific characteristics, such as form, fragrance, color, disease resistance. Wild or species roses are not cultivars.




Damask Rose: A class of roses that trace their origins back to ancient times. Thought to have originated in the Middle East, the first Damasks in Europe may been collected by the Crusaders.

David Austin: The contemporary British hybridizer who originated the English Rose class.

Deadhead: A means of encouraging a faster repeat of bloom by removal of the spent blooms just above a 5-leaflet set.

Disbud, to: The propagation of a larger individual bloom by the removal of young sidebuds or the propagation of a larger spray by the removal of a central, dominant bud.

Double Rose: A rose form comprised of more than 24 petals.

Dr. Huey (aka: Huey): The dominant rootstock of the American garden rose trade.

Drainage: A essential ingredient in planting roses. While all roses need adequate water, few will thrive if water congregates around their roots. Soils with high clay content should be heavily amended to provide drainage.




English rose: A new class of roses in which the repeat blooming habits of modern roses are combined with the form and fragrance of old garden roses.

Epsom Salts: Magnesium sulfate. When used as a fertilizer, epsom salts provides a ready source of magnesium, which serves as the hub of the chlorophyll molecule.

Exhibition rose: A rose that is recognized for its ability to produce classically shaped blooms atop long stems of clean foliage for display in competitions. For a Hybrid Tea, the proper form is defined as petals that spiral evenly from a highpointed center to an outer course of petals that reflex slightly below horizontal. Generally, fragrance is not a consideration with Exhibition Roses.

Exhibitor: see Fanatic




Fanatic: One who doubles his efforts after losing sight of the objective, as in "He's become quite a rose exhibitor."

Five-Leaf Set: Looking down the stem from the bud, a cut just above the first 5-leaflet set is the point at which a spent bloom should be removed — as in deadheading.

Floribunda (aka: Cluster-flowering): A class of modern roses in which the blooms are presented in clusters. Derived from the Polyantha class, Floribundas have larger blooms than their predecessor, Generally, Floribundas are shorter than Hybrid Teas and are well suited for use as bedding plants.

Fungicide: A spray intended to control the growth of rose diseases like mildew, rust and blackspot .




Gallica: The oldest class of garden roses, Gallicas were cultivated in Roman and Greek times. Their natural habitat extends through southern Europe from France to Turkey. Recognized for their hardiness, they are once-blooming, compact shrubs.

Grade 1, Grade 1 1/2, Grade 2: A grading system for field-grown, budded roses promulgated by the American Association of Nurserymen in association with the American National Standards Institute. For Hybrid Teas, the standard specifies that a grade #1 plant must have as least three canes with a minimum caliper of 5/l 6" and a preharvest length of 16". Grade # 1 1/2 must have at least 2 such canes. Grade #2 at least one such cane.

Grandiflora: A modern class of roses, similar to the Hybrid Tea, in which clusters of high-centered blooms are presented atop a tall bush. Queen Elizabeth is a Grandiflora.

Groundcover rose: A rose with a prostrate habit that can be used for bedding.




Heel In, to: The temporary placement of bareroot roses into moist sawdust or mulch for protection against inclement weather.

Hips: The pod of seeds that may develop if a spent bloom is not removed. Not all roses will readily cross- or self-pollinate. Hips can be a valuable source of food for overwintering birds. Allowing them to develop will reduce subsequent bloom.

Hybrid: The progeny of genetically different parents. We are hybrids of our parents (though technically all the same species). Likewise the vast majority of roses are hybrids.

Hybrid musk: A modern class of roses with an oldfashioned look that trace their origin to Rev. Joseph Pemberton (1850-1926) of Essex, England. Hybrid Musks are widely adaptable roses in that their long, arching canes can be trained as shrubs or climbers.

Hybrid perpetual: An old class of roses that dominated during the Victorian and Edwardian eras with over 1,000 cultivars being introduced. The class originated from crosses between Chinas and Bourbons and later included crosses with Noisettes and Portlands.

Hybrid Tea: Designated as the first modern class of roses, Hybrid Teas are the dominant rose class of the 20th-century. La France, the first Hybrid Tea, is the progeny of a Tea and a Hybrid Perpetual. The form was revolutionary in that it presented the high-centered bloom of the Tea on the long, straight stem of the Hybrid Perpetual.

Hybridize, to: The act of creating a new rose cultivar by selectively fertilizing one rose with the pollen of another in the hopes that the progeny will carry some of the traits of each.




International Registration Authority for Roses (IRAR): The international repository of information on the hybridization and introduction of new rose cultivars. The American Rose Society serves as the IRAR.




Juglone: Why shouldn't you plant roses near walnut trees? Well, Doc & Katy Abraham in their book, Green Thumb Wisdom: Garden Myths Revealed! say, black walnuts produce juglone, which "tells" other plants to "stay away."
See also, Companion Planting.




Landscape Rose: Any rose that will fit into the garden landscape as a low-maintenance shrub or groundcover.

Large-flowered climber: A climbing rose that originated as such rather than sporting from a bush form. Altissimo is a large-flowered limber because it has always climbed and there is no bush form.

Large-flowered rose: A European designation for Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras.




Mme. The abbreviation for the French word Madame (translating to Mrs. in English).

Manetti: A Noisette introduced in 1835 that is commonly used in America as a rootstock for the production of greenhouse and some garden roses.

Miniature rose: A class of roses originally derived from China roses that are diminutive in size. The American hybridizer, Ralph Moore, is regarded as the most prolific hybridizer of miniature roses.

Mildew: Fungal diseases of roses. Powdery mildew manifests itself as a white growth on new leaves. Downy mildew, contrary to its name, manifests itself as purple-black blotches on stems.

Mites: Tiny members of the arachnid (spider) family that colonize on the underside of rose leaves. If left unchecked, mites can defoliate a entire bush rapidly.

Modern roses: 1. Members of those classes of roses that originated in or after 1867. 2. The title of a series of books published by the ARS that contain encyclopedic listings of rose registrations.

Mons. The abbreviation in French for Monsieur (translating to Mr. in English).

Mosaic (aka: Rose Mosaic Virus): A malady of roses whose symptoms include yellow veins or light ringspots in leaves. Research has demonstrated that mosaic can be transmitted only by the budding of infected stock and that there is little risk of transmitting it by pruning. Other problems, such a phytotoxicity or over watering are often mistaken for mosaic as they have similar symptoms.

Mulch, to: The application of compost or other organic material to the soil for the purpose of reducing evaporation, fertilizing, or weed suppression.

Multiflora: Derived from Rosa multiflora, a hardy rootstock commonly used in colder climates.




Noisette: A old class of largely climbing roses that originated around 1800 in Charleston, South Carolina. Derived originally from Rosa moschata and the China Old Blush, Noisettes have long slender canes and thrive in warm to hot climates.




Old English rose: There is no such thing, actually. It is an erroneous combination of Old Garden Rose and English Rose.

Old-Garden rose (aka: OGR): Defined by the American Rose Society as being a member of a rose class that existed prior to the introduction of the first Hybrid La France, in 1867. Ferdinand Pichard, introduced in 1921, is an old-garden rose because its class, the Hybrid Perpetuals, existed before 1867.

Once-blooming (aka: Summer-f lowering): A rose that has one annual bloom over an extended period in late spring or early summer. Most species and many old garden roses are onceblooming. Most modern roses are not.

Own-root: A rose that is grown directly on its own roots rather than by budding onto a rootstock. In severe winter areas, own-root roses offer the advantage of being able to regenerate true-to-name directly from their roots. Some roses, Gallicas in particular, will grow so readily on their own roots that they can become invasive if left unchecked.




Patented Rose: A rose for which unlicensed propagation is prohibited for a period of up to 20 years under federal regulations. Plant patents, which will be granted only for new roses determined to be unique from all other roses, are secured through the US Patent & Trademark Office after considerable paperwork and expense. The 20-year period of exclusivity gives the hybridizer an opportunity to recoup the expense of hybridization through the royalties paid by licensed propagators.

Patience: An essential ingredient in planting one's garden. In contrast to the modern age in which satisfaction is expected immediately, roses will require two to three seasons in the garden before reaching their full potential. If, after applying liberal amounts of patience, a rose still fails to grow satisfactorily. See Shovel-Prune.

Patio rose: (American) A miniature tree rose of 18" to 24" in height. (European) A class of roses that fits between miniatures and double flowered (floribunda) roses in size.

Photosynthesis: The fundamental process of life on Earth, in which plants convert water, carbon dioxide and. sunlight into sugars.

Pillar Rose: The use of a rose vertically on a narrow support The best specimens for pillar roses are those that will bloom along the length of their stems.

Pegging: The act of encouraging the long canes of a rose to bloom along their length by arching the canes outward or looping them inward towards the base of the bush.

pH: The measure of alkalinity or acidity on a 14-point scale. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. pH lower than 7.0 represents increasing acidity. pH higher than 7.0 represents increasing alkalinity. The ideal pH for rose gardens in 6.5 (slightly acidic).

Pistil: The female organ of a flower, comprised of the stigma, style and ovary.

Pollen: The yellow, dust-lie male cells produced by the anther of a flower.

Pollen parent: The source of pollen for a hybrid rose.

Polyantha: A class of roses derived by Jean Baptiste Guillot from crosses between climbing varieties of R. multiflora and the repeat-flowering China Old Blush. Polyanthas present their delicate flowers in sprays well above their foliage.

Portland: An old class of roses that became popular after 1800 largely because of its ability to bloom repeatedly - a rare trait among European roses at the time. Portlands present their fragrant blooms on straight stems directly atop their foliage.

Pruners: An essential tool for the rosarian. The best design is the Bypass Pruner which has two blades that cut like scissors. The Anvil Pruner uses a flat plate to push the cane against a single blade, which often results in crushed canes.




Quartered rose: A rose form in which the petals appear to be pinched into four quarters.




Rambler: A climbing rose, generally of multiflora origin, that presents clusters of small blooms on long, slender canes.

Remontant: The French word for repeat bloom.

RHS: Royal Horticultural Society.

RNIRS: Royal National Rose Society.

Rootstock: A variety whose vigorous roots are used as the foundation for a budded rose. The use of rootstocks allows varieties that would not grow on their own roots to be propagated commercially.

Rugosa: Derivatives of the hardy Japanese species, R. rugosa, that are recognized for their deeply veined leaves.

Rust: 1. A fungal disease that is recognized by orange-red patches on leaves.




Secateurs: A European word for bypass pruners.

Seed Parent: The female parent of a hybrid rose that receives the pollen.

Semi-Doub!e Rose: A rose form of 12 to 24 petals.

Shank: The straight portion of rose bush between the canes and roots.

Shrub rose: 1. (unofficial) Any rose that presents its blooms close to the foliage and is well suited for unattended use in the landscape, 2. (official) Any rose that generally does not fit in another rose classification.

Single rose: A rose comprised of a single ring of petals, generally numbering 5 to 12 petals.

Shade rose: The unicorn of the rose world. To reach their maximum beauty, all roses need 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight throughout the growing season. Roses described as being "shade tolerant" can be grown in open shade. No roses will do well if planted in deep shade.

Shovel-prune, to: After heaping abundant Patience on an unsatisfactory rose, the means by which one renders a final opinion of its performance. Be sure to remove all of the major root system and to re-amend the hole if you plan on following immediately with a new recruit.

Species Rose: A native (wild) rose that will reproduce true from seed. In botanical nomenclature, species roses will start with the word Rosa followed by a word that often ends in "a" (Rosa rubrifolia) or "ii" (Rosa mulliganfi). Relative to the tens of thousands of roses that have been hybridized, there are only a few hundred species roses.

Sport: 1. A spontaneous mutation that generates a new rose. Climbing roses are sports of bush roses (see Climbing Rose). Other common sports include changes in color and petal count. Some sports are stable and can lead to the introduction of a new rose. Others are fleeting and will quickly revert back to the parent. 2. (Good Sport) How you describe your husband after he has dug a new flock of holes for the annual expansion of your rose garden.

Spray (aka inflorescense): The presentation of blooms in clusters that originate at a single stem.

Spreader-sticker: An additive for sprays that increases their effectiveness by enabling the drops to flow more evenly across the foliage and to stay in place.

Stamon: The male portion of a flower's reproductive system, comprised of a filament that holds the anther (pollen pad) aloft. The beauty of Single Roses is often due to the contrast of the stamens against the petals.

Standard: see Tree Rose

Stigma: The female portion of the flower that receives pollen grains for fertilization.

Sweat-out, to: A technique used to encourage stubborn bushes out of dormancy by placing a plastic bag around the canes. The effect is to create a miniature greenhouse that holds in moisture and warmth.

Substance: The amount of starch in the cells of a rose petal; roses with more substance will last longer in the vase.

Sucker: Stems that grow spontaneously from the roots of a budded or own-root rose, generally in an unwanted manner. Suckers on budded plants can be distinguished from the rest of the bush by differences in foliage and should be removed below the soil level to preserve the integrity of the plant. Suckers on own-root plants will often emerge several feet away from the core of the plant. If left in place, own-root suckers may spread repeatedly - which can be good if you're trying to grow a hedgerow and bad it you have a small garden.

Summer flowering rose: see: Once-blooming. Tea: 1. (proper) A class of roses that probably originated long ago in China between the species roses R. gigantea and R. chinensis. Teas present their sweetly scented, high-centered buds on nodding stems. 2. (improper) Slang for Hybrid Tea Rose.




Tree rose: A garden specimen created by budding a rose atop a stem of 36" to 48".

Two-dollar hole: A poorly prepared hole for the planting of a new rose, as in, "Don't put your twenty-dollar rose in a two-dollar hole!"




Variety: see Cultivar.

Victorian Roses: Hybrid Perpetuals are often referred to as Victorian Roses.




Weeks Own-Root Roses: Weeks has trademarked this name which refers to what they call "Heirloom" roses... that is, old roses or those whose flowers resemble the fully double old roses... mostly grown on their own roots.

Weeping tree: A tree rose comprised of a 48" to 96" stem grafted to a head of a rose with a lax habit. The result is that the long canes cascade outward and down.

Wild rose: Synonym for Species Rose.

Winterize: 1. (up north) The protection of one's garden from winter dehydration and late spring frosts by the arduous use of heavy mulch, rose cones, etc. 2. (down south) A light pruning and fertilization at the beginning of fall in anticipation of roses at Christmas.