Yellow Roses Meaning, Symbolism and Varieties to Grow

While it can be considered a cliché that a yellow rose is uplifting, that’s only because it’s true. Yellow represents the warmth in life, the positivity, and yellow is a color proven to boost your mood.

Yellow also represents the sun, and everything good that follows. Balmy weather, feeling relaxed with the sun on your face, and good memories seem that much brighter when the weather is pleasant.

Arguably the brightest of all colors, yellow is especially captivating in a rose.

When yellow roses were discovered, breeders scrambled to be the first to grow new varieties that would be the most loved, which created greater diversity as the number of varieties swelled, and still continue to do so. 

How the Yellow Rose Began

The yellow rose is much older than the orange rose, the latter being created by crossbreeding in the 1950s. For the yellow rose, this turned out to be less elusive, as the pigment already naturally existed.

Yellow roses were first discovered growing in the Middle East, during the 18th century. The original yellow roses reportedly had a different scent to the ones we do now – not a sweet, heady fragrance like the ones available today – but a smell similar to sulfur. 

European rose breeders brought back several varieties to try to create new hybrids with the European roses. Three were particularly successful.

Rosa Ecae, which is native to Afghanistan. These blooms are similar to the buttercup, with five petals, and in their vivid color.

Rosa Hemisphaerica, also referred to as the sulfur rose, because of its smell. The double-flowered variety was one of the first yellow roses to be introduced in Europe.

Rosa Foetida, which name translates to “having a bad smell”, unfortunate, really, as the flower is so beautiful! This is an important variety,  as it is the parent plant of many cultivars. 

It’s also the reason why many roses are prone to black spot (see also Black Spot and Other Common Rose Diseases and Pests Every Gardener Should Know) – rosa foetida has a big vulnerability to the disease, which it has passed on. Though newer varieties of roses are becoming more disease resistant (see also Rose Varieties With Good Disease Resistance) all the time. 

Cultivars that originally existed only in the older, single-petalled forms nearly all have double-petalled versions. 

What Do Yellow Roses Mean?

While these days yellow roses are the embodiment of positivity, this wasn’t always true. In a lot of cases, they meant the exact opposite. 

In the Victorian language of flowers, yellow roses were a negative symbol. They represented dying love, someone was unfaithful in a relationship, and jealousy. 

They were also used as a message of rejection – a good way to let someone down without seeing the aftermath, or causing a scene, which would have been taboo back then! 

This probably had a lot to do with the smell of the yellow rose back then – as we don’t often consider the smell of sulfur to be a nice experience! 

As symbolism shifts to match cultural ideals, the meaning of the yellow rose has changed significantly, doing a complete U-turn, though a semblance of the original meaning remains.

You can see this in the firm friendship meaning, where the yellow rose symbolizes a deep, platonic connection with someone, and gratitude for that connection.  

Yellow is also associated with precious metals – like the marigold was originally symbolic of gold coins (see also Marigold Symbolism And Plant Guide) – so these brightly colored flowers are highly prized.

Yellow Rose Varieties to Grow in Your Own Garden

The good thing about roses is that there’s a kind for any garden, any climate, any position, and any type of structure – whether that’s a trellis, a container, a wall, or a big border.

Here are some of the uplifting yellow roses you can grow in your own garden.

Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’

This is a gorgeous upright shrub rose, which shows off in the flowering season, producing some of the most unrivalled yellow roses you’ll see. 

It was introduced to the rose market in 1983 by David Austin, and each bloom is lightly scented. 

This rose can flourish in both full sun and shady areas, making it an attractive option for any garden.

It’s also a winner of the Award of Garden Merit, which the Royal Horticultural Society doesn’t just give out for the sake of it, so you know this is a special rose! 

Rosa ‘Landora’

A Tantau rose, ‘Landora’ is one of the most well-known yellow hybrid tea roses. It can reach up to 6.5 feet tall, making it a great option for a bare wall or a trellis that needs some color. 

The lovely golden yellow flowers will appear in the early days of summer, and will carry on producing flowers if you deadhead them enough. 

Rosa ‘Molineux’

‘Molineux’ produces an interesting display of flowers, which start off as an orangey-yellow, and ‘fade’ to a bright yellow as the flower matures. The flowers also produce a musky scent typical of the Tea Roses. 

This shrub will reach 3 feet tall, and spread around the same, and it grows very evenly, which is a nice bonus. 

Rosa ‘Nye Bevan’

A very new hybrid, the Nye Bevan rose, is named after Aneurin Nye Bevan, who founded Britain’s National Health Service. 

These lovely roses start off a soft yellow, which go cream as they mature. This plant also has the added benefit of producing hips, though you’ll need to remove those if you want the roses to repeat flower. 

Part of the money generated by this bloom is also donated to health-based charities, including the NHS.

Rosa ‘Peace’

Bred in 1935 by Meilland, this is a spectacular rose, which is largely yellow, with a hint of pink around the edges. 

The flowers produced are huge at up to 15cm diameter, and contrast well against the glossy leaves. It can take up to 5 years for this plant to mature, and the blooms will get bigger and better every year.

It was originally known as the ‘Madame A. Meilland’ rose, and fearing that the world would never get to see it because of World War II, he sent bare roots to the US, on one of the last planes out of France for a while.

In America, Robert Pyle propagated the plant, and told Meilland he would introduce the rose when the war was over, and he would name it Peace to celebrate. 

It was finally introduced in 1945.

‘Peace’ roses also make an excellent cut flower, and a fitting gift – should you need to apologize to someone, or if someone is going through a tough time, this is a very symbolic rose that you can give someone.

Rosa ‘The Pilgrim’

One of the taller roses on this list, ‘The Pilgrim’ can reach 12 feet tall, and is a climbing rose, so it’s perfect for garden boundaries or growing up arches, doorways, or walls of your house. 

This plant produces soft yellow blooms, and the color gets more concentrated toward the center. 

This plant has the added benefit of producing large flowers, which flower repeatedly throughout the season, so long as you remove the spent flower heads.

Rosa ‘The Poet’s Wife’

A standard tree rose, ‘The Poet’s Wife’ is a lovely scented rose which reminds you of lemons, both for its color and its fragrance. 

This plant will add rays of yellow into your garden, as a prolific bloomer. 

It will reach a maximum of 6 feet tall, and as it is a standard rose, will need less help with support unlike a climbing rose. 

Rosa ‘Sun Flare’

These roses have an unusual fragrance not dissimilar to licorice, and the name is fitting, as these blooms brighten up any area of the garden. 

This is a thorny variety, so keep this in mind when you choose a place for it, as you don’t want to put it in an area that you’ll get attacked every time you go past! 

This plant gets to a maximum of 4 feet tall, and spreads to around 3 feet, forming as a shrub. 

It’s also very hardy, so if you have a lot of cold winters, this rose is a good option.  

Rosa ‘Sunshine Daydream’

This is a captivating rose, which blooms change from light yellow to cream in colder temperatures. It was also voted the best rose of 2012, in the All-American Rose Selections Award. 

Rosa ‘Sunsprite’

‘Sunsprite’ is a fantastic bloomer which produces deep yellow flowers, though they’re not suitable as cut flowers as the stems are too short. It was developed in 1973, and remains a very popular cultivar. 

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