Red Roses Meaning, Symbolism and Varieties You Can Grow

Arguably the most famous, if not the most popular of all the colors roses can be found in, the red rose is truly special. 

It’s carried messages of the deepest love and desire that any flower symbolism is capable of, and it’s done this for hundreds of years, with good reason.

The red rose has featured throughout the arts over the ages, and has become a symbol of many institutions, companies, and charities all over the world. 

It also features in countless name combinations across the world, and they’ve truly stood the test of time.

To the ancient Romans and the Greeks, they were the ultimate symbol of romance, and power. 

The red rose in particular featured alongside the white in the War of the Roses, a cause that divided so many people, and they are still moving messages of loyalty and affection.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the red rose, and the types you can grow yourself. 

The History Behind the Red Rose

Roses have been used for centuries in perfumery, cosmetics, medicine, and culinary dishes across many cultures. 

Red roses were often utilized over other colors in making rose water for medicinal purposes, and other tinctures. Because they had an inherent sweetness, they were also used to mask the taste of medicines.

When we realized we could hybridize them and grow new varieties, this opened up a world of possibilities, not just for their uses, but growing them as ornamental plants. 

The Gallica rose is considered one of the oldest traceable varieties of roses there is, and written records go back as far as the 12th century. It’s also considered an ancestor rose (see also Wild Rose: The Ancestor Of Modern Roses), as many modern types of roses are descended from the Gallica rose.

Both the red and the white rose (see also White Roses Meaning, Symbolism and Varieties You Can Grow) had featured in the War of the Roses during the 1400s, the red rose symbolizing the House of Lancaster, the white representing the House of York. 

It took 32 years for the war to end, by which time the male line of the house of Lancaster was extinguished. The House of Tudor and the House of York became united, and the symbol of the house of Tudor is a red rose with a white center.

The popularity of red roses has endured all the way through to the modern day, and it’s one of the most gifted flowers. 

Despite the sheer variety of red rose cultivars that exist, breeders and enthusiasts alike continue to create new varieties, which speaks volumes about how the red rose has captured people’s imaginations and ideas about beauty for centuries.

What do Red Roses Symbolize?

Thanks to Greek mythology (see also Roses In Mythology), the red rose has held the message of the deepest affection for centuries. While all roses are associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, she created red roses by accident.

In the story of her mortal lover Adonis, she had previously warned him not to go hunting, as she feared he would get mortally wounded. And he did. 

All roses at this point were said to be white, but it was when she heard he had disobeyed her that she ran after him and caught herself on the thorns of the rose. Her blood turned the flowers red. 

These days, we still use red roses to carry the deepest messages of love, affection, and beauty. It’s impossible to mistake the meaning behind a bouquet of red roses. 

They also require a deeper meaning between a love that’s lasted for decades, as red roses given at this point say ‘You are still as beautiful as the day I met you, and you’ll always be the one.’ 

In Medieval times, the red rose was considered the king of flowers, and became a symbol of the Virgin Mary. 

The flower is also associated with death, where it is used at funerals and gravesides to symbolize an eternal love that cannot be severed by mortality.

Different Varieties of Red Roses You Can Grow Yourself

Below, you’ll find a list of just some of the gorgeous red roses which you can grow in your own space, whether that’s a balcony, a small yard, or a huge garden, there’s a red rose for every space you can imagine.

Rosa ‘Deep Secret’

A gorgeous hybrid tea rose, ‘Deep Secret’, or ‘Mildred Scheel’ grows as a large bush rose, and the double crimson blooms can form as large as 10cm in diameter. 

These gorgeous, scented blooms are complemented by the dark, glossy leaves.

This rose needs full sun in order to thrive, and it produces roses throughout summer and autumn. 

Rosa ‘Flower Carpet Ruby’

If you’d like a rose that will act as a great ground cover, ‘Flower Carpet Ruby’ will do the trick. It also provides a plethora of red blooms, with the least amount of care required. 

It’s also a fairly hardy rose, not prone to too many diseases, and will flower from June until the end of September, so long as you place it in a position where it will get full sun.  

Rosa ‘Champlain’

‘Champlain’ is a gorgeous shrub which will produce red blooms repeatedly. The flowers also turn a darker red at the tips of the petals. 

These captivating blooms will appear from May up until the first frosts. They also make good cut flowers, and dry quite well. 

Like most of the roses on this list, it requires full sun in order to produce the most amount of flowers possible, though ‘Champlain’ will also tolerate some shade. 

Rosa ‘Crimson Glory’

If you’d prefer your roses to clamber up structures, ‘Crimson Glory’ is a lovely climbing rose which produces huge double flowers in a rich red. Like with most hybrid tea roses, these are heavily scented. 

‘Crimson Glory’ will happily grow up most structures, and this hybrid was created by Jackson and Perkins in 1935.

Rosa ‘Precious Time’

While a relatively new cultivar, only joining the party in 2009, ‘Precious Time’ is a hybrid tea rose which has already established itself as a firm favorite. 

It flowers in late spring all the way through to the first frosts. The color of the roses deepens at the tips of the petals, turning a very dark burgundy, which looks black in some lights. 

The foliage is also a lovely display in its own right, where the young leaves are crimson, deepening into a glossy green as they mature.  

Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’

A floribunda rose, ‘Hot Chocolate’ flowers from June until October. It’s not fussy about what kind of soil you plant it in, as long as it drains well, and it can get full sun. 

In some lights, these red blooms take on a tinge of copper or even brown, and it’s a beautiful plant worthy of any garden. It needs full sun, but it will also grow in partial shade, where it will produce fewer flowers. 

It also won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Rosa ‘Guinee’

Arguably one of the most beautiful climbing red roses you can grow yourself, ‘Guinee’ is a repeat flowering plant which produces large dark red flowers.

These flowers also bear a lovely fragrance reminiscent of the old roses. It was introduced to the market in 1938 by Mallerin, and it can grow up to 18 feet tall, if allowed to do so. 

It’s the perfect climber for disguising an ugly wall or fence, and can even be grown on the front of a house for a truly spectacular display. It prefers full sunlight, and grows best on a warm wall.

Rosa ‘Super Hero’

While this rose produces unscented flowers, it shouldn’t be discounted as it is a great variety to grow. 

If the idea of a vigorous climbing rose doesn’t appeal to you, ‘Super Hero’ will, as it grows as a compact shrub.

It’s also a repeat flowering shrub, where it will produce blooms in abundance from late spring until the first few weeks of autumn, right up until the first frosts. 

It will happily grow in pots or as part of a border, so long as it gets full sun and well-draining soil.

Rosa ‘Etoile de Hollande’

A perfect climbing rose, ‘Etoile de Hollande’ can grow up to 20 feet tall, and produces deep red blooms that feature a fabulous fragrance. 

It’s an old hybrid tea rose, and the flowers form in both the early season and later as a repeat flowerer.

It was introduced in 1879 by Verschuren. 

Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’

Bred by David Austin in 2006, the ‘Darcey Bussell’ rose gets its name from the ballerina. If you’d like a rose that flowers repeatedly in a crimson-pink, ‘Darcey Bussell’ is the one to go for.

The flowers themselves also take on a hint of purple just before the petals start to fall. It bears a lovely citrus-like scent, and you won’t need to stake it, as it grows as a shrub, which will get around 3 feet high in full sun.  

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