The red rose is perhaps the most popular of all roses. Movies, songs and books talk about red roses as if they were characters with special roles. Countries and villages choose to be symbolized by red roses because of the flower's rich contribution to their history. Even babies are named after this flower because of all the beauty associated with it.
The reason why red roses have garnered so much love is because their magnificence has stood the test of time. They were the luxurious presence of romance for the ancient Romans and Greeks, they were the flowers of the brave in early England, and to this day, they are the global messengers of affection.
The red rose has truly become a classic symbol and this article will discuss why this timeless flower will remain so as well as the different colors and types of this iconic flower.
History of the Red Rose
Theophrastus, the father of botany, mentions in his book “Survey of Plants” that the Greeks used roses extensively in perfumery, cosmetics and medicine, while the Romans grew them as ornamental garden flowers. These combined practical and aesthetic values of roses are the reason their cultivation spread.
Red roses were preferred for making medicinal rosewater and medicines. The fragrant aroma of red roses masks the bitter taste of most medicines and rose water baths are said to be more healing. They are also eaten in salads and made into candy.
Rosa gallica, a semi-double rose with bright red petals from medieval Europe, was considered the oldest red rose. Along with several other rose varieties, this red rose was very popular and became the ancestor of many of today's cultivated roses.
This beautiful flower also caught the eye of Edmund, the first Earl of Lancaster, who made it the iconic red rose of Lancaster. It became one of the symbols of the War of the Roses in England in the 1400s. Later, the Tudor rose, a rose with red and white petals – signifying the unity of the houses involved in the famous civil war – became the national flower of England (1).
Today, red roses are still celebrated around the world. They are often given as gifts, especially on Valentine's Day. Many rose organizations support the cultivation of new varieties of red roses that have superior qualities, which are often shown at flower shows and competitions.
What do red roses mean and represent?
The red rose is the universal symbol of love, romance and beauty, hence its deep nostalgic association with Valentine's Day. A bouquet of red roses always says “I love you” in its purest form, and a single long-stemmed red rose given to long-time partners means “You are always the one”.
In medieval times, red roses were also a symbol of decorative and mystical devotion. It was declared the most perfect of flowers and was one of the symbols of the Holy Virgin Mary. Of course, we also know that the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, is well represented by the red rose flower.
Red roses are also romantically associated with death. They remind us that the happier the love we feel, the more melancholy it is to think that love fades and dies. Red roses are often placed on the graves and cemeteries of departed loved ones (1).
You can check out our in-depth guides to the rose symbol and list of flower meanings to learn more.
What are the different varieties of red roses?
Rosa ‘Red Meidiland' (red rose)
These are rambling roses that are grown as ground cover because of their low growth.
The continuous flowering flowers have red petals with a white center and yellow stamens and are produced in clusters. The dark green foliage turns an interesting yellow in the fall. Red Meidiland' was cultivated in 1990 by Meilland in France.
Rosa ‘Velvet Fragrance
Also known as ‘Velvet Perfume', this variety of rose is a hybrid that produces large, beautiful flowers of a velvety crimson color.
The flowers are intensely fragrant, available from summer to fall thanks to their vigorous habit. The leaves are dark green and semi-glossy and grow on stems that can reach a meter in height. Gareth Fryer developed this variety in 1988.
Rosa ‘Champlain' is a repeat flowering shrub that produces bright red, slightly fragrant flowers that turn darker red at the tips of the petals.
The flowers have thirty petals and the foliage is dark green throughout the season. They are resistant to pests and diseases. Dr. Felicitas Svejda created this rose variety in 1973.
Rosa ‘Crimson Glory' (Rosa ‘Gloire pourpre')
This variety of rose is a climbing hybrid that bears large, heavy double flowers, usually 26-40 petals, of a deep crimson.
The flowers have the classic rose shape and are strongly scented. The dark green foliage makes them good cut flowers. They are also popular as fences and arbor climbers. Jackson and Perkins hybridized ‘Crimson Glory' in 1935.
Rosa ‘Precious Time'.
Obtained by Pierre Orard in 2009, this hybrid rose reaches a height of one meter and blooms from late spring to early winter.
The deep burgundy flowers are very popular as cut flowers, but the plant is also grown in pots and borders. The plant is also known for its young leaves, which have a reddish tinge.
Rosa ‘Chrysler Imperial' (Rosa ‘Chrysler Imperial')
Dr. Walter E. Lammerts hybridized this rose in 1952. It is a hardy, vigorous shrub that grows best in warm regions.
The flowers produced are famous for their strong fragrance and deep, velvety crimson color. They are abundant from spring to fall. The dark green, semi-glossy leaves are borne on long stems that make ‘Chrysler Imperial' a perfect cut flower.
Rosa ‘Ingrid Bergman' (Rosa ‘Ingrid Bergman')
Introduced by the Danish company Poulsen Roser in 1984, ‘Ingrid Bergman' is an upright shrub that reaches a meter in height. The lightly scented, warm, dark red flowers are usually 26-40 petals and are borne in clusters.
The vigorous plant is compact with deep green leaves that are resistant to most rose pests and diseases. The beauty of this rose variety earned it the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden Merit Award in 1993.
Rosa ‘Super Hero' (Rose ‘Super Hero')
This variety of rose bears medium sized unscented flowers in crimson. The flowers are abundant from late spring to early fall and the dark green leaves last all season.
The plant grows as a compact shrub and is perfect as a border or foundation plant in the landscape. Ping Lim hybridized this rose in 1996.
Rosa ‘Double Delight' (Rose ‘Double Delight')
This rose has large, highly fragrant flowers that start out creamy white and turn strawberry red at the ruffled edges. The stems also bear matte green leaves that grow vigorously and create the compact appearance of the plant.
The eye-catching flowers of ‘Double Delight' have earned it many awards, including a gold medal in Rome in 1976 and a perfume award in Geneva. Double Delight' was selected by Swim and Ellis in the United States and introduced in 1977.
Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell'.
Named after the famous English ballerina, this rose blooms like a tutu. The fully double flowers, a deep crimson tinged with mauve, grow abundantly on a deciduous, bushy shrub.
The plant is a performer, able to withstand hot climates. The fruity fragrance and mass of flowers make it perfect for a flowering hedge or garden border. David Austin created this award-winning rose in the early 2000s (2).
If you love roses, be sure to check out this comprehensive list of rose names and colors and when to plant roses.
- History of the Red Rose
- What do red roses mean and represent?
- What are the different varieties of red roses?
- Rosa ‘Red Meidiland' (red rose)
- Rosa ‘Velvet Fragrance
- Rosa ‘Champlain
- Rosa ‘Crimson Glory' (Rosa ‘Gloire pourpre')
- Rosa ‘Precious Time'.
- Rosa ‘Chrysler Imperial' (Rosa ‘Chrysler Imperial')
- Rosa ‘Ingrid Bergman' (Rosa ‘Ingrid Bergman')
- Rosa ‘Super Hero' (Rose ‘Super Hero')
- Rosa ‘Double Delight' (Rose ‘Double Delight')
- Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell'.
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