Green rose (R. chinensis viridiflora) (52573 bytes)

Mining Unusual Roses from the Net

By Terry Deem-Reilly, Colorado Master GardenerSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver

The rose is by far the most popular flowering plant worldwide, and it's no less popular in the mountain west. Unfortunately, roses can be much more difficult to grow in Colorado's dry high plains climate than in the East and South. Because many species won't grow here, plant diversity is even more important to us than gardeners living in milder and moister locations.

Listed below are some roses that may satisfy a yen to diversify, along with an Internet source. However, these varieties are very rare and not often offered for local sale. Also, availability may vary with season, popularity, and ease of propagation. Consult the grower before ordering to inquire about suitability in your conditions.

  • Black Ice (1971) - a dark-red, semi-double floribunda. No fragrance. Zones 4-9.

  • Brown Velvet (McGready, 1983) - a rust/coffee floribunda. Double, fragrant blossoms. 5' x 3'. Zones 6-10, so may be OK with winter protection and/or a sheltered location.

  • CeeDee Moss - pink-and-white striped double blossoms on a 5'x5' shrub (resembles 'Rosa Mundi'). Slight fragrance, repeat bloomer. Zones 5-10.

  • Iced Tea - miniature (16'") shrub, apricot/brown double blossoms with a slight frangrance. Repeat bloomer. Zones 6-10.

  • Marbree (1858) - Portland Damask shrub, 4'x4'. Fragrant blossoms are pink with pale-pink-to-white spots. Repeat bloomer. Zones 5-8.

  • Pinstripe (1985) - miniature (12"-18") with clustered white blossoms striped red. Slight fragrance. Zones 5-10.

  • Tom Thumb - miniature (8"). Crimson red or purple semi-double blossoms about 5/8" wide, no fragrance. OK for zones 5-10. Useful for container growing.

  • Green rose (R. chinensis viridiflora) - china rose with green blossoms that are actually sepals (see photo above). Very old, grows on its own roots so it will recover if there is dieback. 2.5'x3'. Blossoms give off slight pepper fragrance when rubbed. Blooms all summer. Zones 5-10.

  • Si - 6" microminiature, the world's smallest rose! The bud is about the size of a grain of wheat; pale pink blossoms are 1/4" to 1/2" across. Repeat bloomer. No fragrance. This is a delicate plant: grow in partial shade in summer and pot and bring inside for the winter. Zones 6-10.

These roses (and many more) can be ordered from The Uncommon Rose

There are other Internet sources for unusual roses:

Highcountry Roses - founded in Denver by the late Dr. William Campbell, nursery located in Utah. Many hardy varieties. Also has a print catalog.

Rosebuddies - site for Bill LeGrice roses in the UK. Not presently able to ship abroad; check the site for updated information. Good site for researching interesting varieties, however.

Dickson Roses - site for the famous Dickson Roses in County Down, Northern Ireland. Ships October through March. Check out the patio roses.

The Antique Rose Emporium - this is the site for the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas, which specializes in old garden roses rustled" from homesteads, cemeteries, etc. where they flourished in spite of decades of neglect.

Photo: The Antique Rose Emporium


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Date last revised: 01/05/2010