We always judge flowers by their color, and this is usually before we consider the form or the species. Take roses, for example.
We always consider the color before the form of the rose, whether that’s a single or double flower, our immediate associations and symbolism comes from the color.
It’s also the first consideration when we think of what kind of roses we want to grow. What color should it be?
Green flowers (see also Top 21 Green Flowers) are fairly rare, and most that do occur naturally are pollinated by wind rather than pollinators such as bees or butterflies.
We’re always looking for the more unusual rose to offset the classics. It’s usually the color that sets it apart from the rest, and what could be more unusual than the green rose?
Read on to discover how we bred the green rose into existence, and the varieties you can grow yourself.
The Green Rose: Is it Made of Flowers Or Modified Leaves?
Most flowers consist of petals arranged in whorls. It’s thought that the whorls were originally leaves, and they evolved to become brightly colored in order to become more attractive to pollinators.
Pollinators see colors completely differently than us. For example, bees cannot see the color red.
They can, however, see ultraviolet light. This helps them see patterns in blooms, which helps point the way to nectar that much more easily. It helps the plant too, as pollination means that these plants get to reproduce, and their genes are passed on.
So how did the green rose come about, when there are so many other colors that roses (See also Yellow Rose Varieties) come in?
Origin of the Green Rose
The green rose is technically a beautiful freak of nature. It’s caused by an odd mutation, called phyllody.
This is where the flower parts, which normally form as petals, actually form as sepals. They are technically leaves, arranged in a flower form.
Sepals do form on a normal plant, but these encase the developing bud to protect it as it grows. These are then followed by the petals, the stamens, and the pistils and the carpals (see also The Parts Of A Flower).
Because this ‘flower’ is made of leaves, the other parts don’t form, which means there isn’t any nectar, and pollinators won’t visit the flower.
This mutation is sometimes caused by a hormone imbalance, stress, or disease.
These plants, unfortunately, cannot reproduce. They are incapable of producing seeds of any kind.
The only way to get more green roses is to propagate an existing one, by taking cuttings, and using grafts.
This mutation was first recorded in the rose in 1743. Rosa chinensis, one of the most popular roses, grew one of these green blooms, and it’s still cultivated today for this characteristic, in Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’.
This cultivar is evergreen, growing as a shrub rose. The ‘flowers’ are a bright green, and sometimes have a slightly spicy fragrance.
This unusual plant is grown all over the world, not just for its ornamental value, but also as a highly prized and unique cut flower.
Green Rose Varieties to Grow Yourself
While ‘Viridiflora’ is a fantastic option for any garden, it’s not for everyone.
It can be annoying to have to take cuttings of it every year when you’d normally let a rose go through its normal cycle. Not every gardener has the perfect place to graft roses or raise cuttings, making it an expensive plant to keep.
That’s one of the reasons why rose breeders have created several cultivars with hints of green in true roses, widely used by gardeners and florists alike.
You can also grow these yourself.
This is a lovely rose which produces showy blooms in orange or pink (see also Pink Roses: History, Types and Meanings), and as the flowers fade, the undersides turn from a light tan to a striking white with a hint of green.
This particular rose grows as a shrub, and the flowers are an unusual cup-shape, usually reaching an impressive 3-inch diameter.
This rose needs well-draining soil and full sun in order to thrive.
Rosa ‘Mint Julep’
This is a stunning variety. It’s a hybrid tea rose, also known as Emerald Mist, and produces golden blooms which have lime-green tips to each petal.
This fantastic variety grows to a maximum of 4 feet high, and the blooms themselves will last from summer into autumn, provided it gets full sun and freely draining soil.
Rosa ‘Green Tea’
One plant that produces particularly large blooms is ‘Green Tea’. It’s a shrub rose bred by Rosen-Tantau, and each bloom can reach a maximum diameter of 5 inches.
The flowers can have anywhere from 26 to 40 petals each, and come in a fantastic greenish yellow, which is fairly pale. It contrasts well against the glossy foliage, which sheds in winter.
Rosa ‘St. Patrick’
A hybrid tea rose, ‘St Patrick’ has an upright habit, and produces yellow flowers which are tinged with green from summer until autumn.
It’s a particularly thorny cultivar, featuring toothed leaves, and it’s also quite vulnerable to powdery mildew, so you will need to place it somewhere with good air circulation.
It reaches a maximum of 6 feet tall, and also goes by the names ‘Irish Luck’, and ‘Limelight’.
This rose is perfect if you want a rose that will flower year after year, and provides an ever-changing display.
A floribunda rose, ‘Greensleeves’ produces numerous roses in clusters. The unopened buds are a lovely pale pink tinged with green, and the flowers open as a pale green, fading to a baby pink.
So long as you pop it somewhere in full sun with slightly acidic soil, this rose can reach 3 feet tall.
It does have numerous thorns running along the stem, and toothed leaves, so you may want to plant it next to other plants that don’t need a lot of regular maintenance!
Rosa ‘Green Ice’
A perfect rose in miniature form, ‘Green Ice’ has dark, leathery foliage, and produces double white flowers which are tinged with green. These roses grow in clusters, which makes for the perfect floral display.
It also helps that these flowers are highly scented, making this plant perfect for under windows or near patios, where you can get the most out of everything this rose has to offer.
It’s worth noting that this rose is vulnerable to more pests and diseases than other cultivars, so it may require a little more vigilance than you’re used to!
It’s also a perfect ground cover plant, only reaching a maximum of a foot in height, and spreading about the same.
Rosa ‘Super Green’
One of the most vivid green roses on this list (as you might imagine from the name), this is a lovely hybrid tea rose bred in 1997 by Alessandro Ghione.
These striking roses appear white at first, turning a lovely shade of green, featuring fantastic ruffled petals.
It also makes for a very unusual cut flower, though it has a very mild fragrance if at all, so if you want a scented arrangement, you’ll have to mix it with other flowers. It’s also a florist favorite.
‘Wimbledon’ is a rare cultivar, producing captivating blooms in a rich green, tinted red on the ruffled ends of the petals. It was created by Olij Rozen.
The flowers compliment the deep green leaves nicely, and the blooms themselves are repeat-flowering, ensuring a great supply of cut flowers for a prolonged period during the season.
Rosa ‘Green Diamond’
Introduced in 1975, this is a very compact rose which is perfect for container planting. While the roses themselves have no scent, they create a petite display worthy of any garden.
The blooms come in white, tinged with pink and green, usually reaching a diameter of an inch. They also feature around 25 petals per flower, and these gorgeous blooms open in flushes in the flowering season.
The plant itself gets to a maximum height of 18 inches, and you’ll want to put this one in partial shade in order to get the best colors out of it.
The Symbolism Behind the Green Rose
Green, as a color, has a powerful effect on the human body and our emotions. It can help calm you, as we associate it with nature and the peace we can get from it.
The color itself, by itself, symbolizes balance, health, nature, fertility and vitality. So what does it mean when we talk about the green rose?
This rose is traditionally given to couples who are trying for a baby, as it’s believed that this particular bloom will bring them luck.
It’s also a sign of hope and excitement for the future, as well as wishing someone the best of luck, no matter the occasion.
Green roses symbolize hope, regaining a balance in life, positive changes that will mean good things for the future, and joy.
These lovely green blooms are also used in business environments and other somewhat-tense situations in order to mitigate a tiring or stressful atmosphere.
The green rose promotes a sense of calm, tranquility, and renewed energy.
In Ireland, where St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with seas of green, it’s only fitting that the green rose is given as a gift.
On this holiday, the green rose is a symbol of hope and excitement for the future and the opportunities it may hold. It’s also believed to bring a wealth of luck into the recipient’s life.
Some people believe that green symbolizes jealousy and greed, but when it comes to flowers, this is a very rare reason to give them to someone, and it’s not usually interpreted as such.
Green is largely a positive color, and when it comes to the green rose, it makes a very memorable gift.