10 Best Cutting Roses For Fragrance & Flower
Although the rose season may seem a long time ago for many of us, fall is a great time to select and plant roses, whether you go for field grown plants or containers. Most of us think of our roses as glorious garden plants, but it is also one of life’s great pleasures to cut a few to bring indoors. Maybe to decorate the dinner table, to have alongside you at your desk, or to put in the bedroom so that you go to sleep with their fragrance and awake with it in the morning. So how about choosing a few roses with the thought of cutting them to enjoy them indoors?
As a boy I remember a rather straggly rose bush in our garden; it was called ‘Madame Butterfly’. It might have been rather weak and leggy in the garden but it did produce the most wonderful, unfurling buds that were often cut for the house. The single rose vase was an essential in the 60s. I remember is porcelain beauty and its delicate fragrance. I rediscovered ‘Madame Butterfly’ and her sister ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Lady Sylvia’ when I became a rose enthusiast a few years later. These are Hybrid Tea roses, full of petals with a raised centre and mostly individual blooms on single stems.
A red rose is such an iconic flower. Even if you would never have red in the garden, a fragrant red rose is lovely to cut and enjoy at close quarters. ‘Royal William’ is a great rose for cutting. It produces beautiful individual blooms with velvet petals and a strong fragrance. The name made it an instant hit when it was launched, but it has stood the test of time.
‘Savoy Hotel’ is another enduring favourite with full, opulent blooms of glowing pink, richer towards the raised centre of the bloom. The leaves are dark green and healthy for a hybrid tea. Just like any rose the quality depends on adequate feeding with a rose fertiliser in spring and again in summer. Regular watering in dry weather is also essential.
‘Just Joey’ is never the fullest when it comes to petals, but the scrolled buds open to delicious apricot-orange, butterfly-petalled blooms which make exquisite cut flowers. Try it in a blue jug or terracotta vase.
‘Elina’, a lovely soft creamy yellow, is another great cutting rose because it produces long stemmed flowers. Of course the advantage of a Hybrid Tea rose for cutting is that you are not losing subsequent flowers by cutting the blooms as they are carried on single stems.
‘Julia’s Rose’, named for the High Priestess of flower arranging Julia Clements, was an early introduction of a colour break in roses. Its soft coffee coloured blooms, with hints of cream and mauve make it the perfect choice for floral decoration. The blooms are elegant with widespread outer petals and high centres. When introduced it suited the staged style of flower arrangements of the time. However it is still sought after, despite its weak growth and reluctance to grow in many gardens. Gardener’s love a struggle!
English roses make wonderful cut flowers, especially the most fragrant ones. The deep pink Rosa Gertrude Jekyll and rich magenta-purple Rosa Young Lycidas will fill a room with their gorgeous Old Rose scent. Their informal but opulent air suits simple arrangements in bowls or vases. Cut them when the buds are just opening in early morning or late evening. They will last in water for several days.
The yellow English roses seem to last well in water. ‘Graham Thomas and ‘Molineux’ are both good, as is the glorious ‘Golden Celebration’ and the paler yellow ‘The Pilgrim’. ‘Molineux’ wins in terms of healthy foliage and freedom of flowering. Also its rich colour which gives great depth to the flower. You make not be a fan of yellow in your garden, but rich yellow roses are a golden highlight in an office or living room setting.
Finally, don’t forget rose hips as wonderful flower decoration material. This is where some ramblers and shrub roses come into their own. ‘Rambling Rector’ for example, may only produce one explosion of flowers in midsummer, but its small orange red-hips are a delight in fall. When it comes to plant material that lasts well when cut, rose hips are unbeatable and will often still be useful in spring.
A few thoughts on cutting roses
The length of stem you cut will depend upon what you intend to do with the flowers. The shorter the stem, the less distance the water has to travel to the flower. Large, double shrub roses tend to last better when cut on short stems.
Strong stemmed Hybrid Tea roses succeed on longer stems because the heads are less likely to bend. This blocks the vessels which carry water.
Always cut them with a sharp pair of bypass secateurs that will not crush the stems when you cut. Cut above a node; where the leaf meets the stem.
Single rose varieties are not ideal for cutting unless you want them for very short term decoration; they rarely last more than a day or two.