Arching Shrub

A shrub in which the primary branches bend towards the ground. Roses with an arching habit are graceful, even in winter.


Bearing strong thorns.



Blooms do not open fully, usually occurring in areas with cool, damp nights. Roses with many petals are more susceptible to balling, thus many old roses are liable to ball on occasion. If you live in an area where your roses ball more often that you would prefer, choose roses with fewer petals.


Roses sold in a dormant state, without soil around roots. This is the most common method of shipping roses, usually in fall, winter, and early spring.

Basal Cane

One of primary canes of a rose plant, originating from the base of the plant.


Rose bloom with two distinct colours, one on the front of the petals, and the other on the back.


The bane of many a rose gardener, blackspot is a fungus that causes black spots about 1/16 to 1/2 inches in diameter to form on the leaves and sometimes stems. The infected leaves later turn yellow around the spots and eventually fall from the plant. In bad cases, blackspot can severely defoliate a rose bush. Blackspot thrives in warm, humid weather. Rather than constant spraying to control this plague, plant resistant plants and practice good husbandry (sun, water in the morning, burn diseased canes, periodic cleaning of shed leaves, and plant at proper spacing for good air circulation).
It is best to choose roses that don't show black spot when grown in a nursery in your area.

Blind shoot

Stem which fails to produce a flower.

Bud Union

The point where the grafted canes join the rootstock on budded (grafted) roses. Very easy to determine due to the swelled appearance of the union. Bud union is important for determining how deep to plant the rose (varies by region).


Method of propagating roses by grafting a leaf bud in to the neck of root stock.



Scar which forms over a pruning scar.


The green protective cover over the flower bud which opens into five sepals.


Short for "cultivated variety", the term refers to a variety which originated in cultivation rather than the wild.

Cut roses

Cut flowers in early morning or after it rains, not when they are under water stress. Cut the stem about an inch longer than you need. After cutting, immediately place cut flower in warm water. If possible, with the stem under water, cut off the bottom inch or so of the stem at an angle. This keeps air from getting into the stem. Remove all foliage that remains under water and would just rot. Re-cut the stem underwater every day if possible. Some people add a small amount of bleach to the water to keep down fungus and bacteria. Sugar or soda can be used for food. Others use a commercial floral preservative.



(see also hips) Deadheading is cutting off flowers as they wither or don't look as good. Old blooms left on the plant may have been pollinated and may begin to form seed pods (hips). The formation of hips requires a lot of energy from the plant and slows flower production. By preventing the formation of hips, deadheading encourages the rose bush to grow new flowers. An alternative to cutting is to snap off the flower at the abscission layer on the stem (where it wants to break).
Deadheading through the season may be as much pruning as some old-fashioned roses need for several years in a row, eg Teas, when combined with a light "Hygiene Prune" in winter. (This means removing dead wood and crossing-over branches).


Two meanings:
- Removing flower buds from a very young or stressed plant, so it can put its energy into growing roots and leaves.
- Removing the side buds on a stem to send energy to the development of the flower growing at the tip of the stem. Primarily done in order to develop larger, high quality blooms used for exhibition purposes.


Flower with twenty-four or more petals. (All roses have at least four petals). Some rose experts class roses with more than fifty petals as "very double".



Hybrid Teas, especially if intended for cut flowers or for the show bench, will perform much better if given adequate fertilizer. Use a well balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, N-P-K. The three numbers used to describe a fertilizer tell how much of the three major nutrients are in that fertilizer. The first number (N) is the Nitrogen content, the second (P) is Phosphorous, and the third (K) is Potassium. Nitrogen or Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium, (leaves, flowers, roots). Fertilize less during the first year while the plant is getting established. However, note that most Australian native plants evolved in phosphorous-poor soils, and will not tolerate the fertilisers described above; for beds with both natives and roses, it is safer to use a seaweed product such as Seamungous.

Seasol is useful to water in newly-planted roses (also fruit trees and natives), as it encourages root growth.
Heritage roses are in general survivors, and when established need less fertiliser and less water than modern roses.

When planting roses, it is recommended that you add long-term sources of Phosphorous and Potassium to the soil near the roots because these two elements move slowly through the soil. Bone meal and rock phosphate are good long-term sources of Phosphorous. Granite sand is a long-term source of Potassium.

Cottonseed meal (lowers soil pH.), alfalfa meal, and blood meal are organic sources of Nitrogen. Alfalfa meal also releases a growth stimulator as it decomposes. Many forms of inorganic Nitrogen leach quickly from the soil. Nitrogen also helps stimulate basal breaks.

Some rose growers fertilize with Epsom salts. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, a source of Magnesium. Being a sulfate, it will lower soil pH. Although the need to use of Epsom salts is frequently debated, Magnesium (along with Nitrogen) is supposed to stimulate basal breaks. Many gardeners use 1/4 cup of Epsom salts per plant in the Spring and/or Fall. Some use as little as 1 tablespoon per plant, others up to 1/2 cup.

Seaweed is a good organic source of trace elements.


(abbrev. FB or FL) Floribundas were created about 1909 by crossing the Polyanthas with Hybrid Teas. They produce flowers in clusters, not singly like the Hybrid Teas. Floribundas are usually shorter plants than Hybrid Teas and tend to produce more flowers and smaller flowers than Hybrid Teas on shorter stems. Although Hybrid Teas provide excellent cut flowers, Floribundas are well suited as good landscape plants providing lots of color. Many Floribundas are not very fragrant.


Translates to Free-flowering

Fossil Roses

Fossilized roses estimated to be at 7 to 25 million years old have been discovered in Asia, Europe, and North America.


Fragrance contributes much to the enjoyment of roses. It is also one of the most subjective of topics when discussing roses. Fragrance or perceived fragrance depends upon many factors: variety of rose, time of day, weather, growing conditions, the person smelling the rose, living flower vs. cut flower, etc. Each person's sense of smell is different. A rose that is very fragrant to someone, may be not at all fragrant to someone else. Roses are most fragrant around mid-morning on a warm day with no wind and moderate or high humidity. Their can dozens of components in the fragrance of a rose, but rose scents are usually categorized with such descriptions as "spicey", "tea", "old rose", or "fruity".


Blackspot, powdery mildew and rust are the three most common fungus problems that roses have. See blackspot for some ways of preventing and treating fungus problems. Planting disease-resistant roses in a sunny location with good air circulation will help prevent fungi.



Sub-class of plants which have common characteristics. The genus name for roses is "Rosa".


Heeling In

Temporary planting of roses when conditions (temperature/soil condition/no time to plant!) prevent permanent planting.


Having the center petals the longest. Attribute associated with the classic ideal of Hybrid Tea form.


(see also deadheading)

These are the rose seed pods that form after a flower's petals fall if the bloom was pollinated. Hips are the fruit produced by rose plants. Apple trees are members of the rosacae family and the apple is a hip. Some varieties such as R.rugosa produce large hips that turn brilliant colors in autumn.

Allowing the hips to develop will cause a rose to slow down or stop producing flowers. It also helps induce dormancy, helping prepare the rose plant for winter in colder climates. In contrast, deadheading will keep the plant from producing hips and encourage it to produce more flowers.


Bred from two parents. Most roses are indeed hybrid roses, whether Bourbon or Floribunda or Hybrid Tea. Hybrids, while not always bred by humans (hybrids can result from natural cross-pollination in the wild), are selected for characteristics such as flower form, disease resistance, fragrance, and repeat flowering (remontance).

Hybrid Teas

(abbrev. HT)

Hybrid Teas are easily the most popular class of roses today. Hybrid Teas as a group have large flowers with a high-pointed bud. They are excellent repeat bloomers, often blooming almost continually. They bloom one flower per stem on long sturdy stems making them excellent for cutting. Hybrid Teas come in a large variety of colors.
HYbrid teas before 1920 are considered heritage roses; many are healthier than later ones, some of which have been weakened by excessive in-breeding.

The rose "La France", bred in 1867, is classified as the first Hybrid Tea rose.


La Malmaison

The gardens (and home) of Empress Josephine (wife of Napoleon I) and in its heyday the home of over 250 species of roses. Although the gardens are in ruins today, La Malmaison re-introduced the rose as an ornamental plant. Empress Josephine may be considered the first true rosarian of Europe.

Lateral Cane

Secondary branches originating from the basal cane. Shrubs with strong lateral cane growth tend to be bushy, whereas shrubs that do not create many lateral canes tend to have an arching form.



See Powdery Mildew

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses grow to only about 6-18. The plants, leaves are all miniatures of the larger roses. Miniature roses tend to be quite hardy and can be grown in containers.

Modern Roses

Refers to roses introduced since 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea was created. Usually refers to Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, or Grandiflora roses.


Roses benefit from a 7 - 10cm deep organic mulch such as pine bark, pine needles, leaf mulch, etc. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the stem of the plant.

Benefits of proper mulching:

  1. Reduced watering requirements and less water stress due to
    • milder soil temperatures and
    • reduced evaporation.
  2. Less disease from water splashing on the lower leaves of plant.
  3. Fewer weeds because the mulch blocks some of the sunlight to weed seedlings.
  4. Better soil as the mulch breaks down and adds organic matter to the top layer of soil.
  5. Good soil structure because mulch will help stop soil compaction.

Old Roses

(abbrev. OR, OGR, see also English Roses, Modern Roses)
Sometimes called Old Roses, Old-fashioned Roses or Antique Roses, these are the varieties of roses that existed before 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea was introduced.
Some of the classes of Old Roses are the Albas, Bourbons, Boursaults, Centifolias, Chinas, Damasks, Gallicas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Mosses, Noisettes, Portlands, and Tea roses. Some of the Ramblers and Rugosas are considered Old Roses. As a group, Old Roses tend to be once blooming, though some are repeat bloomers. They tend to be more disease-resistant and require less maintenance than the Hybrid Teas which accounts for some of their popularity. There are exceptions to this, especially the China and Tea roses. The China and Tea roses are tender and disease prone, but are very important because they provide the repeat blooming genes to many classes of roses (notably Hybrid Teas).

This FAQ contains a document with more information about Old Roses.

Once Blooming

(see also Remontant-Repeat Blooming)
Roses that bloom once a year, usually in the spring. Since, they bloom only once a year, when they do bloom they usually put on an excellent show. They flower on old wood, so most pruning is done just after they have finished blooming, not in the winter.
This applies to most species roses, most Ramblers and to Old European roses (Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Centifolias and many Moss roses).
Organic Fertilizer|Fertilizer made from natural substances rather than chemicals. Examples of organic materials include compost (excellent!), alfalfa, blood meal, fish emulsion, manure, bone meal, and kelp.

Own-Root Roses

An own-root rose is a plant whose rootstock (the roots) is the same variety as the top of the plant.
Grafted roses, commonly referred to as budded plants, are plants where the desired rose is grafted or budded onto a rootstock of a different type. The point where the desired variety and the rootstock meet is called the bud union.
We prefer to grow non-suckering roses on their own roots, as although they are slower to establish than budded ones, they are more resilient to drought, mowers, whippersnippers and bushfires. This applies to Teas, Chinas, Polyanthas, most Ramblers. Some Hybrid Teas and Floribundas will do well on their own roots, but less robust ones need the support of an understock.

Own-root roses are usually recommended for those in very cold climates. This is because an own-root rose that dies back to the ground during the winter can grow back the next year from the roots. If a grafted rose dies back to the ground, what will come up next Spring is the rootstock variety, usually an undesirable variety of rose.

Even if a rose doesn't die back to the ground. Sometimes a shoot will emerge from the rootstock. If the rose is grafted, this shoot is called a sucker, and will be the same variety of the rootstock, not the desired plant. When this happens with own-root roses, the shoot will be of the desired variety.

New canes can emerge each year from the bud union of grafted roses. After many years, the bud union of grafted roses can become large and knobby and eventually run out of places for new canes to emerge from. This is not a problem for own-root roses, since they lack the knobby bud union of grafted roses. Therefore, grafted roses may not last as long as own-root roses.

Most roses are sold as grafted plants, since it is more economical than selling own-root plants. A common rootstock is "Dr. Huey", used by J&P and Roses of Yesterday and Today and other nurseries in the western US. It does well in alkaline soils. "Dr. Huey" has a dark red bloom about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. R. multiflora is commonly is in the eastern US. It prefers acid soil. Wayside uses "Manetti" rootstock.

There has recently been some discussion about R. fortuniana rootstock. It is primarily used in Florida where its root knot nematode resistance is important. Its fine, spreading root network is good for sandy soils. It is not considered to be freeze hardy, so it is only recommended for mild climates.

Don't confuse own-root roses with bare-root roses, the terms refer to different things. Roses are usually sold either bare-root (no soil around the roots) or potted in containers. Bare-root roses can be either own-root or grafted. Bare-root roses tend to be less expensive than potted roses. Since they are lighter (no soil) than potted roses, most mail-order roses are bare-root.


Patented Roses

A rose variety may be patented just like any other plant. A patent grants to the holder exclusive rights to distribute and propagate that variety of rose. Of course the patent holder can license others to distribute and propagate that rose. A patent lasts for 17 years, so most older roses aren't currently under patent. After the patent has expired, anyone can distribute and propagate that particular variety.

Some nurseries divide their roses into patented roses and non-patented roses, with the patented roses costing more. This is because they may freely propagate the non-patented varieties, but their is usually a fee for propagating patented varieties.

It is illegal to asexually reproduce a patented plant, even for personal use. It is, however, legal to use a patented rose in hybridizing.


There are two roses available in Australia. The Hybrid Tea Peace is the most popular rose in the world. It was smuggled out of France just before the Nazi occupation and introduced just after the end of the World War II. It produces large blooms of yellow blending to pink on the edges. It is not very fragrant. The Tea rose , named for the end of the Boer War in 1902, is semi-double, in similar colours to the HT, and is a sport of G Nabonnand.

Pillar Rose

Indicates a form, not a class of roses. Roses grown as pillars have flexible canes of five to twelve feet which may be trained around an upright support (it does not have to be an actual pillar). Roses suitable for use as pillars are moderate in growth so that they will not overwhelm their support.


Female organ of a flower. The pistil includes the stigma, style, and ovary.


It is best to prepare the ground about 6 weeks before planting, with compost or cow manure dug through the whole rose bed. It is preferable not to use Roundup on the bed in this time.

Powdery Mildew

A fungus disease, powdery mildew strikes under cool, humid conditions. Leaves will become covered with a whitish residue and may be curled and distorted. Powdery Mildew is not normally a serious affliction in that plants do not normally succumb to the disease. However, it is certainly unattractive. A spray of powdered milk diluted 1 in 10 can be used to reduce it. Good airflow through a rose garden helps.



A flower in which the center petals are folded into four quarters.


Recessive Gene

Genes are either dominant or recessive. A dominant gene's characteristics will predominate when paired with a recessive gene. For a recessive gene to show, it must be paired with another recessive gene. For example, in humans, blue eyes are recessive and brown eyes are dominant; thus, a person who has blue eyes must have received the recessive blue eye gene from each parent. Of interest perhaps, two blue-eyed parents can have only a blue eyed child; two brown- eyed parents can have either a blue or brown-eyed child.


Pierre Joseph, Court appointed painter to Marie Antoinette and Empress Josephine, Redout's credo was, "one does best what one loves most, however humble the pursuit." He is best remembered for his paintings of plants, especially roses and lilies. His paintings from Empress Josephine's garden at La Malmaison provide modern gardeners with an invaluable visual documentary of the roses grown two hundred years ago.


Flowering more than once in a season. Species roses tend to bloom once a season. Roses which are remontant may bloom continuously or in regular waves (for example, floribundas or hybrid teas or some older classes), whereas others may have a two waves, one in spring and one in autumn. The term is mainly used for roses which repeat-flower but less often than many Hybrid Teas.


Underside of the petal.


Host plant to which selected rose varieties are grafted. Most commercial growers propagate new plants by grafting cuttings to a rootstock. The advantage of rootstock is that many roses, especially modern cultivars, have weak root systems. The primary rootstocks used are Rosa multiflora for acid soils, 'Dr. Huey' for alkaline soils, and 'Fortuniana' for sandy soils. The issue of whether "own root" roses or grafted roses are better is one of the enduring debates of rosarians, and each technique has its advantages.
R indica major was a commonly-used rootstock in Australia in the past, and survivors are often seen in old gardens.


Leaf veins which are deeply etched into the leaf. Rugosa roses are so-named for this specific characteristic.


An American term, not often used within Australia. Rose Rustling,The practice of searching for Old Roses in the hopes of taking cuttings. Favorite haunts of rose rustlers include abandoned properties, cemeteries, and roadsides. Always ask permission before taking cuttings. Never remove the whole plant unless destruction is imminent.

Many cemeteries have their own propagating teams to preserve their old roses. Please note that ALL plant material at Rookwood necropolis is protected by law, and may not be removed.



The leaf stock or shoot which is grafted to rootstock.


A rose with 12 to 24 petals.


A rose with 4 to 8 petals.

Species Rose

Roses which are self-fertile, and if self-pollinated will come true. Another term used is "wild"; species roses are those which have evolved naturally to adapt to their native habitat. Most flower only in spring, and will sucker if grown on their own roots.
There are no roses native to the Southern Hemisphere. Some species of roses have become declared weeds in Australia (and New Zealand); the dog rose R canina and the sweetbriar. Roses are considered as pest plants in terms of rubbish removal, and may not be included in "green waste" or plant trimmings intended for compost for general sale.


Genetic mutation in a plant. Sports in roses are not unusual, and many new introduced varieties are sports as opposed to hybrids. Sports may be evidenced in different flower colors, flower form, and growth habit. For example, Souvenir St. Anne's is a semi-double sport of Souvenir Malmaison, and Climbing Souvenir Malmaison is a sport of this relatively small Bourbon.


Male organ of flower. Pollen comes from the anther.


The amount of moisture in the rose's petals. While it is difficult to ascertain how much moisture is in a particular rose's petals by touch, thickness and firmness are keys to determining substance. A rose with substance will last well after being cut, thus, it is important that exhibition roses (or roses you would like the family to enjoy in the house) have good substance.


There are 2 types:

  1. Stem or shoot growing from the rootstock instead of the grafted variety. Suckers should be removed at their base, by pulling downwards.
  2. A new plant growing from a root, from a plant which is growing on its own roots (ie not budded onto a rootstock). Some roses can become invasive this way. In general, most roses which flower in spring only (except most ramblers), especially species roses including R bracteata, and gallicas, will do this. Rugosas will also sucker if grown on their own roots, and can become invasive. These plants are best bought budded. or grown in a large tub.


Applying compost or organic fertilizers on top of the soil and around plants after they have been established.


The process of moving a plant from one location to another.



A plant that is growing where you don't want it to grow.



Plant hardiness regions determined by the average annual minimum temperature.