Add a Green Rose to Your Garden (Really!)

Love growing roses? Give your rose garden something unique by adding the Green Rose ‘Viridiflora’.

True rose gardeners can be a bit… obsessive. C’mon, you know it’s true. Roses are notoriously tricky to grow for many people, and those who do it best really get to know their plants. They feed them, water them, prune and deadhead like a celebrity stylist, and even talk to them when the neighbors aren’t looking. Their roses reward them with an array of blooms in just about every color, and the rose gardeners delight in adding new beauties to their collection. So whether you yourself are a rose gardener, or just know someone who is, you’ll be fascinated to find out that the Green Rose does exist.

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

My mother and I found this unique rose growing at the Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando a few weeks ago. My mom is a true rose gardener for certain, and so even though the sweat was pouring down our backs in the hot Florida spring sun, we happily wandered through the largest collection of roses on the Eastern seaboard, admiring the thriving roses. And just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came upon something we’d never seen before.

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

The Green Rose, Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’, is a very old rose. The sign indicating that it has green “petals” isn’t quite correct, though. The fascinating thing about the Green Rose is that it has no petals at all. Instead, the blooms produce only a multitude of sepals, which usually serve as protection for flowers in bud and as support for petals once they open. The Green Rose is a natural mutation, but like many mutants, the fact that it produces no viable flowers and thus no hips to produce seed make it sterile.

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

This means that all Green Roses are grown by taking cuttings from another plant. Since it’s unknown how often this mutation occurs in nature, it’s possible that all Green Roses today stem from just one specimen grown in some ancient garden. Most rose historians agree this rose originated in China, where some say it was grown only for royalty to enjoy in the Forbidden City. It’s documented as early as 1743, though the rose registry dates it to 1856. At any rate, this rose has long been prized and cultivated for its originality.

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

Lacking petals and other traditional flower parts, the Green Rose has no traditional rose fragrance. Instead, a deep sniff reveals a sort of peppery scent. It “flowers” in abundance, with dozens of sepal blooms covering the shrubby plant. You’ll find Green Roses for sale from a variety of places on the internet, including The Antique Rose Emporium. Grow it in zones 5 – 10, but provide extra mulching for winter protection in zones 5-6. It also is reported to grow well in pots, allowing you to bring it inside for the colder months as needed.

Add a Green Rose to Your Garden

Looking for more great roses? Check out our list if Top 10 Best roses here.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.