University of Florida Extension ServiceUF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail:

 May 8, 2008

Florida Rose Quick Links:   History  Kinds/Types  Rootstocks   Right place   Pests   References   Groups

Feature Article - for release the week of  May 11, 2008

Dan Culbert -  Extension Horticulture Agent 

The Queen of Flowers  

"A Rose is a rose is a rose" are familiar words penned by Gertrude Stein almost a century ago.  And the Rose itself is even better known to gardeners all over the world.  With Mother’s Day on the calendar, these flowers should now be found in almost every home.  Many will be enjoyed in vases as cut flowers, but fortunate Mothers will enjoy the beauty and fragrance of fresh Roses form the Florida Yard.

Roses are not the easiest flowering shrub to grow in our climate.  But with a little bit of knowledge about what they need, every Florida Yard can be coming up roses.  Today’s column is a summary of  information I presented at last week’s EPCOT International Flower Show in Orlando, and is the subject of this week’s gardening column.

Through time, this "Queen of Flowers" has become the flower for all.  Bob Black tells us in his on-line article, the History of Roses, that they are native to all areas of the globe except South America and the tropics.  Much folklore, history and tradition have been attributed to roses - from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, to Greek and Roman mythology, and they even were part of an English Civil war in the Middle Ages.

Lancaster rose symbol Yorkshire rose symbol Tudor rose symbol

A red and white rose is considered to be a symbol of unity.  Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS

The red  Lancaster  rose and the white Yorkshire rose represented the two sides in the English War of the Roses, (1455–1487).  Henry VII, reunited the two factions and combined these two symbols into the "Tudor Rose", above. Graphics from Wikpedia

The red & white Unity rose is one of the plant badges displayed at the bottom of the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. Graphic from official web site of the British Monarchy

Kinds of Roses

Here in Florida, Roses grow and bloom year-round. They can be mixed into plant beds, grown as single specimen plants in containers, or placed in a garden that is devoted only to roses.

Different kinds of garden roses can be either low- or high-maintenance.  Low- maintenance roses thrive with minimal care includes the “old garden roses” and newer shrub roses such as the Knock-out®” series.  These easy-to-grow types produce more open and informal blooms.

The “florist type” flowers include the hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, and polyantha roses. These modern roses require higher maintenance and for success - they will need regular grooming, fertilizing, watering, and attention to pests.


 Sunny Knock Out rose 

The Sunny Knock® Out Rose is a newly released cultivar from this popular line of disease resistant roses. Photo courtesy Conard-Pyle Co.

     April in Paris, a new Hybrid Tea Rose

This is a Hybrid Tea rose, an upright bush that generally produce one flower per stem. Blooms have a high-center point. Many varieties reveal a beautiful fragrance. This cv. April in Paris, a new patented selection for 2008.  Photo: Jackson & Perkins

Lovestruck a new Floribunda Rose 

Floribunda roses are bushy shrubs and produce flower clusters of three to 15 blooms per cluster.  "Lovestruck" is Jackson & Perkins's 2008 Floribunda Rose of the Year®.  Photo: Jackson & Perkins

Rose Rootstocks

Fortuniana rose in bloom

Rosa fortuniana is rarely seen in bloom - it is the recommended rootstock for garden roses in Florida  Photo by Wayne Myers

Dr. Huey: Rose rootstock Dr. Huey is a second choice for garden rose rootstocks in Florida. Photo: PH Rose Gardens

Multiflora rose in bloom  Multiflora rose rootstocks are not satisfactory in Florida - and, the plant itself is a aggressive invader in other parts of the US. Photo: Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina

University of Florida Horticulturalists generally agree that success with roses in the Sunshine State will improve if you consider the plant from the bottom up.  Wile many old garden roses and dwarf cultivars can perform well on their own roots, even these types will do better when grafted.

However, if choosing Hybrid roses, it is worth it to look for those grafted on 'Fortuniana' rootstock (Rosa fortuniana, 'Double White Cherokee').  They will grow larger, be more vigorous, produce more flowers, and live much longer than plants grown on any other rootstock.  'Dr. Huey' rootstock is a distant second-best rootstock choice.  Those grafted on 'Multiflora' (Rosa multiflora) rootstock are shorter-lived and less satisfactory under Florida conditions.

Beyond the choices of maintenance and rootstock, selecting roses depends on personal preferences; there are countless choices of flower color, fragrance and plant form available.   Serious gardeners often are exposed to many catalogs and advertisements for the latest in rose cultivars.


The Right Place for Roses                                              Icon of Rose Bloom

Success with roses also means picking the right place.  Don’t jam them in next to the shady side of the house and expect success.  Garden Roses need full sun to do their best; at least 6 hours of direct sunlight are required.  Given a choice of morning or afternoon sun, choose the AM spot.  This will dry off the leaves from evening humidity and reduce diseases problems.  Good air movement is also a good idea.  

 Soil needs to be well drained and have good water holding capacity.  That means lots of organic matter will be a plus.  Raised beds may make a good rose garden.  Since fertilizers are most readily available in slightly acid soil (pH 5.5 to 6.5), lots of organic material (again) is your best bet for Florida rose gardens. 

Local nurseries have roses grown in containers for year-round sale and planting.  Since roses in Florida will grow larger and need lots of space, place them with lots of room to grow.  The distances needed may be one foot apart for small cultivars or as much as 8 feet for larger vigorous roses.

After planning, water them well, mulch and add staking or support. Micro-irrigation systems (drip tubing or micro-sprayers) are ideal since the leaves stay dry.  Select a rose fertilizer with micronutrients and controlled-release nitrogen.  Rose growers usually fertilize their plants once a month.  Use one cup of fertilizer per plant per application or ½ cup bi-monthly.  

Grooming roses will result in more blooms.  A heavy pruning of hybrid teas before spring growth resumes is suggested.  During the growing season, selectively trim the plants to remove dead or diseased stems.  Dead-head (remove faded flowers) after each flush of bloom to improve appearance and prevent the fruit development (i.e., rose hips). This will direct the plant’s energy into new growth and blooms.  Flowers can be expected eight to nine weeks after pruning back the plants.


Pesky Rose Problems

*       Got weeds?  You will be better off to increase the mulch and use hand weeding rather than using herbicides.  

*       Got Black Spots or a gray crud (Powdery Mildew) on the leaves?  If the bushes are planted in the right place and roots (not the shoots) are watered, leaf disease will be minimized.  There has been some screening of rose varieties for resistance to these diseases.   But under some conditions, the regular (think weekly!) application of fungicides may be needed for rose success. Call our office for specifics.

*       Got bugs?  There are many, many insects and related spider mites that will take your roses to lunch, so stay on top of them with regular scouting and the early application of appropriate insecticides. Again, call our office for specifics.

*       Got “burned roses?”  A new beast in town really likes garden roses and can leave them looking like they have been scorched or are lacking nutrients.  The culprit is the chili thrips, a very small sucking insect that will require special attention to keep your roses alive and attractive.

  Black spot on rose Black Spot on Rose leaf is caused by a fungus, Diplocarpon rosae.  Rose leaves that stay wet will develop this disease.  Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS


Powdery Mildew on rose

Powdery Mildew on rose leaves will also limit the production of flowers.  Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS

2 spotted spider mites

Two- spotted Spider mites can damage both leaves and flowers of roses. Photo: UF/IFAS

Rose damaged by Chilli thrips  

Rose Damaged by Chilli ThripsPhoto: WPB Rose Society

For additional information, visit the Solutions For Your Life website: and our Okeechobee web page,  If you need additional information on Garden Roses in Florida, please email us at or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit our Okeechobee County Master Gardeners from 1 to 3 PM on Tuesday afternoons.  GO GATORS!   


Rose stamp Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS /University of Florida, Millie Ferrer-Chancey, Interim Dean. Last update: 03/22/2010.  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert  


Black, R.J. .  History of Roses.  Gainesville : Dr. Bob’s Gardening Tips Website, UF/IFAS Extension Service, 4/ 2008.

Brown, Sydney Park. Growing Roses in Florida [CIR 344].  Gainesville : UF/IFAS Extension Service, 8/2007. 

Carson, J. Antique Roses. Little Rock: University of Arkansas • Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, 01/03/2008.

Coolidge, G.  "New Thrips Cause Significant Damage to Rose Foliage and Blooms".  West Palm: Palm Beach Rose Society, November 2005.

Crow, W.T. et al.  Varietal Reaction of selected Rose Cultivars to Black Spot.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, 2000

ibid.   Varietal Reaction of selected Rose Cultivars to Powdery Mildew.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, 2000

Faircloth-Pyle, B. “Growing Roses from Cuttings”.  Tallahassee: Democrat,   February 14, 2008.

McFadden, S.E. & Black, R.J.   Rose Culture. [old CIR 344].  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, 1979.

McLaughlin, John.   Roses in Your Miami-Dade Landscape.  UF/IFAS Miami/Dade County Extension Service, undated.

McLaughlin, J.  & Garofalo, J.  Old Roses for South Florida . UF/IFAS Miami/Dade County Extension Service, undated.

Palmer, D. “Frequently Asked Questions About Roses.”  Seffner:  UF/IFAS Hillsborough Co Extension service, ProHort website, 12/16/06.

Welshans, J.  Old Garden Roses Bloom in Florida .  Kissimmee : UF/IFAS Osceola County Extension Service, 2006.


America Rose Society LogoRose Support Groups:  

   America Rose Society:

    Deep South District of the American Rose Society:

                                All American Rose Selections: