There are many varieties of roses. The wild forms have five petals and are usually white to pink. They grow in a bushy habit and have thorns and oval-shaped serrated leaves. Cultivated varieties usually have double blooms, may be bushy, sprawling or climbing.
It’s important to note when purchasing roses that not all roses have a strong smell.
Roses in the Garden
Roses like full sun and do not like to be crowded. They should be planted in well-drained, well-balanced soil. They should be watered every day that it doesn’t rain for the first two weeks after planting and then twice a week thereafter. They should be pruned in the early spring before blooms appear down to about one third. Cut flowers to keep the plant producing. Neem oil spray can help reduce problems with pests and fungus. Compost around the base of the plant in the fall.
Miniature roses can be grown indoors or out, but are more delicate than full-sized roses. When grown outdoors they need some sort of cover to protect them from the cold in the winter. Burying them with leaves or other mulch can help and adds nutrients to the soil. If you get very severe winters, you can dig them up and bring them inside for the winter.
Plant roses near chives, feverfew, garlic, geranium, marigold, onion or parsley for best yields.
Harvesting and Storage
Cut roses as they bloom to keep the plant producing. They are great in bouquets and lest awhile in a vase. You can hang the whole flower upside down to dry it and it will look great in dried arrangements. The petals and leaves can be pulled off the plant and spread on paper to dry and stored in a jar.
Be sure to allow several to mature into rose hips!
History and Folklore
Roses have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There are 150 natural named species worldwide and thousands more cultivars. The Chinese were the first to cultivate roses and begin hybridizing them.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions that Hector’s body was anointed with rose oil after he was killed by Achilles. The Greek poet Anacreon says that the foam that dripped from the body of Aphrodite when she emerged from the sea turned into white roses, later, when she is mourning over the body of her lover Adonis, her tears turn a white rose red. Roses are also associated with Eros, another Greek love God. Sappho called the rose the Queen of the Flowers.
Roses were also important to the Romans. Large public rose gardens were established by the nobility. Both Horace and Pliny wrote advice on the proper growing of roses. They were used as for medicine, fragrance and as confetti at celebrations. In Roman mythology, roses are associated with Flora, Bacchus, Vertumnus, Hymen, Venus and Cupid. Roman brides and grooms were crowned with roses and they were scattered at the feet of the victorious.
In Christian folklore, the red rose has symbolized the blood and suffering of Christ, the five petals representing his five wounds. Roses have also been used to represent Mary and the purity and motherhood associated with her.
In Muslim folklore, one of Muhammed’s wives was accused of adultery. He gave her a bouquet of red roses and told her to throw them into a pool. They turned yellow, indicating her guilt. Another story says that the first rose came a drop of sweat from Muhammed’s brow.
In Jewish folklore, a man once accused a woman of a crime in retribution for refusing his advances. She was to be burned at the stake. Miraculously, the fire does not kill her but killed him. From his ashes red roses grow, symbolizing his treachery. From the ashes at her feet grow white roses, symbolizing her innocence.
In England, if a petal falls as a rose is being cut, bad luck is sure to follow!
In Italy, only rosebuds, or partially closed roses may be given as gifts. To give a fully open rose to another marks them for death!
The Latin term Sub rosa, or “beneath the rose” references secrecy. A rose hung from a ceiling indicates that anything that takes place beneath it should be held in the utmost confidence. In Greek lore, Aphrodite gave the rose to Eros, who gave it to Harpocrates, the God of Silence, symbolizing the necessity for secrecy in certain amorous affairs- we don’t kiss and tell.
In Roman dining rooms, images of roses reminded diners that their conversations should remain confidential. This symbolism can be seen in Catholic tradition, as images of roses sometimes appear on confessionals.
The symbol of the rose can also be seen in the Rosicrucian emblem.
Roses are associated with Aphrodite, Adonis and Eros.
Rosewater is a protective agent worn on clothes.
Rose petals can be added to charms against the evil eye.
White roses worn at weddings will bring happiness and security to the couple.
Roses are used traditionally in love spells. It is great in incense and potpourri. Thorns can be used to mark wax figures.
Rosehips can be carried for general good luck or strung like beads for luck in love.
Rose hips can also be used as offerings to encourage friendly spirits to take up residence.
Rose petals can be eaten on salads, in sandwiches or made into tea or jam. Rose hips also make wonderful jellies and a delicious tea and are high in vitamin C. The leaves can also be made into tea.
Roses look great in dried or fresh arrangements and they smell great. Excellent for potpourri. Dab a drop of rose oil on all your light bulbs to keep your house smelling sweet. Rose hips can be strung on a string and used as garland.
The best roses for medicinal use are fragrant and deep red or cabbage roses.
A tincture is used for a weak stomach and for hemorrhaging. 1 pint boiling water to 1 ounce of rose petals. Add 15 drops of oil of vitriol and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir till sugar is dissolved and the mixture is nice and red. Strain. Take three or four spoonfuls daily.
Rose flavored honey is good for coughs and sore throats. Rose honey can be made by pounding the fresh petals and boiling them with honey.
Rose vinegar is good for headaches caused by being out in the sun too long. Steep the petals in the vinegar for several days, do not boil. Apply a cloth wetted with the vinegar to the forehead.
Rosewater ointment is good for chapped skin and abrasions.
Rosehips, the fruit of the rose, are rich in vitamin C and can be added to healing teas and make a delicious syrup to help the body fight infection.
Contemporary color meanings
Red – Love, respect
Deep pink – Gratitude, appreciation
Light pink – Admiration, sympathy, puppy love, maidenhood
White – Reverence, humility, innocence
Yellow – Joy, gladness, lifelong friendship
Orange – Enthusiasm, desire
Red & yellow blends – Gaiety, joviality
Pale blended tones – Sociability, friendship