Gardening Roses

10 Surprising Rose Facts

Sweet Juliet is believed to be the most expensive rose ever. Source:

Roses (Rosa spp.) are among the most common garden plants. We all know they have striking flowers, often heavenly scented, and thorny stems and we’ve been growing them for some 5,000 years, so you’d think we know all about them. But even such popular plants have a few secrets and here are a few of them.

  1. World’s most expensive rose: ‘Juliet’, the first cut flower rose bred by English hybridizer David Austin, is said to be the most expensive rose over. It took 15 years and £12 million ($15.8 million US) to develop. It was launched in great pomp at the 2006 Chelsea Flower Show. But you can now buy it for much, much less, as it’s now being sold by florists worldwide as the ideal wedding rose.
  2. World’s tallest rose bush: ‘Bewitched’, a hybrid tea rose, is, at 5.689 m (18 ft 8 in), the tallest rose bush ever measured. It was grown by Christopher Rose in La Puente, California and officially measured on November 8, 2017.
  3. World’s tallest climbing rose: Not all roses are self-supporting and many are grown as climbers. The tallest ever, according to Guinness World Records, is a ‘Cécile Brunner’ rose 27.7 m (91 ft) tall, about 8 stories, grown by Anne and Charles Grant of Los Angeles, California. It was measured on August 1, 2004.
  4. World’s largest rose flower: Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski, a California-based rose grower and hybridizer, is said to have bred the largest rose bloom in the world. Shown at a local rose show, the pink rose measured 84 cm (33 in) in diameter. It had to be placed on the floor as it was too large for the display table.
  5. World’s smallest rose: Sudhir Khetawat of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, claims to have produced the smallest rose, ‘Diamond Rose’. Its flowers are only 1 cm (less than 1/3 in) in diameter. Its buds are the size of a grain of rice.

    Rose pyramid in Ecuador. Source:
  6. World’s largest flower arrangement: A total of 546,364 cut roses were used to create a replica of a Cochasqui pyramid in the town of Tabacundo, Ecuador on July 22, 2018. Ecuador is one of the world’s most important suppliers of cut roses, but this was a stretch even for them. It required the collective resources of some 150 Ecuadorian rose growers to create the flower-decked structure. A drip irrigation system was used to keep the stems hydrated.

    20189021 Hildesheim Cathedral.JPG
    The thousand-year rose. Source: Thangmar, Wikimedia Commons
  7. World’s oldest living rose: This is believed to be the Tausendjähriger Rosenstock or thousand-year rose, a plant of Rosa canina that grows on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. It is over 1,000 years old, with reports that it was planted in about 815. According to local legend, the city of Hildesheim will flourish as long as the rose does. Although the cathedral was destroyed by allied bombers in 1945, it has been since rebuilt, as has the city … and the bush survived the bombing, as its roots remained intact beneath the debris.

    ‘Overnight Scentsation’ in space. Source:
  8. Space-traveling rose: NASA took a miniature rose, ‘Overnight Scentsation’, into space in 2002 to test the effects of low gravity on the smell of roses. It turns out the flowers made fewer oils while in space, yet even so were judged to have more “floral rose aroma.”
  9. Roses needed to produce rose oil. It takes some 10,000 roses to produce one single teaspoon (5 ml) of rose oil (attar of roses), used in making perfumes. One of two roses are usually used: the damask rose (Rosa damascena) and the cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia).

    ‘Applause’ rose: the closest to blue so far. Source:
  10. There are still no blue roses: Roses come in a huge range of colors, but two are lacking: black (although there are some very dark roses) and true blue. Even genetic engineering, inserting the blue pigment delphinidin taken from a pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) into a rose in 2004, then further manipulating the genes to block the expression of the original red coloration, only resulted in a rose best described as mauve or lavender. Even so, one such GMO cultivar, ‘Applause’ is sold as a blue rose in certain countries, notably Japan.

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