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Growing Fragrant Roses

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Ah, the rose. No other flower conjures up such passion, sentimentality and delight. No one is sure exactly what it is about this flower that inspires such adoration, but my guess is it’s the fragrance. While some modern hybrid roses aren’t fragrant, there are still many varieties with an intoxicating scent that will knock your socks off.


Choosing the rose with the best fragrance is impossible because fragrance is a matter of personal preference. However, there are some varieties that many agree are incomparable when it comes to an alluring aroma.

Here is a list of my favorite fragrant roses. I have personally grown some of them; others are rated as very fragrant by organizations such as the American Rose Society. Try at least one of these jewels in your garden this spring.

Top Fragrant Roses

All of the roses listed below are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, unless otherwise noted.

·“Double Delight.” This 3- to 4-ft.-tall, disease-resistant, hybrid tea rose features cream-colored flowers with strawberry-red edges.

·English Roses. This group of modern roses combines the strong growth and everblooming characteristics of modern roses with the fragrance and flower shape of old-fashioned roses. While many English roses are fragrant, some of the most heavily scented are Heritage (blushed pink with lemon fragrance) and Gertrude Jekyll (pink with old-fashioned rose scent).

·Fragrant Cloud. This 3- to 4-ft.-tall hybrid tea rose features a coral-orange flower with a strong citrus fragrance.

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From the Organic Authority Files

·Mr. Lincoln. This 4- to 6-ft.-tall hybrid tea rose is a standard in many gardens for its classic burgundy-red flowers, strong growth habit and heady old-fashioned rose fragrance. Mr. Lincoln is hardy to USDA zone 5.

·Old-Fashioned Roses. Old-fashioned roses are those grown prior to 1867. These feature unique plant and flower shapes. Most only bloom once a season. There are a few types that feature an intense fragrance. Felicite Parmentier (blushed pink with a sweet perfumed scent), Souvenir de Malmaison (dark pink with spicy/fruity scent, hardy to zone 6) and Madame Hardy (white with a lemon scent) are some of the best.

·Sunsprite. This 2-ft.-tall and wide floribunda rose is one of the hardiest, featuring lemon-yellow flowers with a strong, sweet fragrance.

Hybrid tea rose.
Photo courtesy of the
National Gardening Association.


Where and How to Plant

Plant fragrant roses where they will be enjoyed indoors and out. Place them near windows or doorways so the fragrance wafts into the house during the day. Outdoors, place them close to pathways and gathering areas.

Plant, after all danger of frost has passed in your area, in a full-sun location, with good airflow around the plants to reduce disease. Dig a hole in well-drained, fertile soil and amend it with compost. In cold areas, plant deeply enough so the graft union (the bulge at the bottom of the stem) is 4 inches below the ground. In warm areas, plant so the graft is at or above ground level.

Charlie Nardozzi, a nationally recognized garden writer, book author, speaker, and radio and television personality, has appeared on HGTV, PBS and Discovery Channel television networks. He is the senior horticulturist and spokesperson for the National Gardening Association and chief gardening officer for the Hilton Garden Inn.

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