What Are Guard Petals?

What Are “Guard Petals”?                  

By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian 40+ years                                           
ARS Certified Consulting Rosarian
Denver Rose Society Member
Loveland Rose Society Member
American Rose Society Member

The outer petals on our roses are called the Guard Petals. Guard Petals on roses are the outer and usually larger petals that protect the inner petals of the bloom still to unfold (See illustration pic below.). The guard petals are quite often wilted or have charred/black edges and need to be removed to reveal the pretty new bloom smile behind them. Florists will usually remove the guard petals if the roses are going to be used the same day, as they take away from the beauty of the rose bloom. Many florists and companies raising the roses that are shipped to florists will leave the guard petals on the roses to protect the buds during transit so the rose blooms will be fresh upon arrival.

When we see blackened or wrinkled outer petals on our roses it is typically a sign that the Guard Petals were doing their job of protecting the inner petals for a new beautiful bloom. These guard petals are there to endure damaging late frosts, high heat, wind whipping and other weather challenges that are dished out in our various garden climate zones. The intense sun’s rays (UV) of summer can be too much for even the guard petals to endure and we will see brown crispy edges on our blooms at times. It just is not possible for the rosebushes root system to move enough fluids to the far outer edges of the petals to prevent such petal edge burning. In most cases though the guard petals take a real beating so that the inner petals may unfold open to present a bloom smile that shines and makes our hearts fill with delight.

In some cases these outer guard petals can become water logged so to speak during times of very wet weather. Then when the sun comes out it can dry the buds too quickly which locks the guard petals together. The bud will look rich and full, yet will not open, turns perhaps slimy to the touch, then dies and falls off. If this condition is found soon enough, the guard petals can be gently and carefully removed such that the inner petals will still unfold into a beautiful bloom to enjoy. The guard petals do their best but cannot stop some insect attacks, such as boring insects that will bore or chew through them and make holes and damaged spots on the rose petals of the rose bloom. Thus we must do our part to help stop the insect issues as early as possible in order to save the blooms we enjoy. In some cases this means the use of a systemic insecticide or miticide to truly get protection against the beauty robbing bugs.

The next time you see the charred looking or wrinkled outer petals on your blooms, thank your guard petals for a Job Well Done in doing their duty and then carefully peel them off of the bloom to enjoy the full beauty of the bloom smiles concerned.


Guard Petals Illustrated Stan V Griep SVG Floral Photography Of 2016
Guard Petals Illustrated
Stan V Griep
SVG Floral Photography Of 2016


"Take Time To Smell The Roses..."
Take Time To Smell The Roses…



Stans’ Rose “Rev Up” Mix & Process

Are your rosebushes heat stressed, transplant stressed or just plain seem tired?

 Try This!

 Stan’s “Rose Rev Up” Mix

In 1 ½ or 2 gallon container full of water mix the following ingredients:

1/4 – Cup of Epsom Salts

3 – Tablespoons Super Thrive

Root Stimulator of choice as directed on the label for 1 ½  or 2 gallons of water.

Work 1/3 to ½ cup of Kelp Meal into the soils around each rosebush.

Pour half of the container of Rev Up mix around the base of each rosebush, over the area where the kelp meal was added. Wait an hour or two and water in well with watering wand.

Note: Let water for making this mix stand for an hour or so as to let the chlorine dissipate a bit if you have high chlorine in your water.

Tropicana - Hybrid Tea Rose Blooms - "Wedding Romance" - Photo by Stan V. Griep
Tropicana – Hybrid Tea Rose Blooms – “Wedding Romance” – Photo by Stan V. Griep

Wild Roses…

The Wild Roses

By Stan V. (Stan the Roseman) Griep
Consulting Rosarian

Wild Roses tend to stir ones thoughts towards medieval times of Knights, Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses, as many of them date back well into our history. The botanical term for them is “Species Roses”, though this term does not conjure up the same emotions, it is the classification where you will find them listed or placed for sale in rose catalogs and at nurseries. Species roses are naturally growing shrubs that occur in nature with no help at all from man.  Species Roses are single bloomers with 5 petals, almost all of them are pink with a few whites and reds and a few that go towards the yellow coloration. They are all own root roses which means they grow upon their own root systems without any grafting as is done by man to help some of the modern roses grow well in varying climatic conditions. Species or wild roses are the roses are those from which all others we have today were bred, thus a special place they do hold in the mind and heart of any Rosarian.

Species or Wild Roses tend to thrive on neglect and tend to be exceptionally hardy. These tough roses will grow in just about any soils conditions, at least one of which is known to do very well in wet soils. These wonderful roses will produce beautiful rose hips that carry over into winter and provide food for the birds if left on the bushes.  When planting them in your rose beds, gardens or general landscape, do not crowd them in. Give them room to expand and grow into their natural states. Crowding them, like with other rosebushes, tends to cut down on air flow through and around the bushes which opens them up to disease problems. Since they are own root bushes they can die way down in the winter and what comes up from the root will still be the same wonderful rose. When deciding to add one or several of the Species Roses to your gardens, keep in mind that they do not bloom all season like many of the modern roses will. These roses will bloom in spring and early summer and then are done blooming as they begin setting those wonderful multi-use rose hips.  To obtain a rosebush that is very close to its wild rose beginnings, look for a rosebush aptly named “Nearly Wild”. She offers the same beauty, charm, low maintenance and toughness of a true wild rose but has the added magical kiss of repeat blooming.

Wild/Species rosebushes can be planted just like any other rosebush and will do best in areas where they get plenty of sun and the soils are well drained as a general rule. One variety that does well in wet ground is named Rosa palustris and is also known as the “Swamp Rose”. Once their root systems are established in their new homes, these tough rosebushes will thrive with a minimum of care.  Deadheading (removal of old blooms) them really is not necessary and will cut down or eliminate the wonderful rose hips they produce. They can be pruned a bit to maintain a desired shape, again be careful how much of this you do if you want those beautiful rose hips later! One of the wonderful wild roses found here in my home state of Colorado is named Rosa woodsii which grows to 3 or 4 feet tall. She has pretty pink fragrant blooms and is listed as a drought resistant rosebush, she can be found growing happily throughout the mountain west of the United States.

Part of the charm that species/wild roses carry is the common names that they have been given over their years of existence. Here are a few of those for you (the year listed is when the rose was first known in cultivation) [aka = also known as]:

Rosa banksiae lutea        –              aka Lady Banks Rose (1823)

*Rosa Carolina                  –              aka Pasture Rose (1826)

Rosa foetida bicolor        –             aka Austrian Copper (before 1590)

Rosa eglanteria            –         aka Sweetbriar or Shakespeare’s “Eglantine Rose(**1551)

Rosa setigera                   –              aka Prairie Rose (1810)

Rosa gallica officinalis     –         aka Apothecary Rose, Red Rose of Lancaster (before 1600)

Rosa hugonis                    –              aka Father Hugo, Golden Rose of China (1899)

Rosa pomifera                   –              aka Apple Rose (1771)

Rosa wichuraiana             –              aka Memorial Rose (1891)

Rosa nutkana                    –              aka Nootka Rose (1876)

Rosa woodsii                    –              aka Wood’s Wild Rose (1820)

{*Note: Rosa carolina is a native american variety.}

For more information on Species/wild roses check out the High Country Roses website at www.HighCountryRoses.com and take a look at the Species Roses they offer for sale. Some of them date back as far as 1551**!

Rose Oil from Rose Petals

Rose Petals for Rose Oil


By Stan V. “Stan the Rose Man” Griep

Colorado Native Consulting Rosarian

Over 40 years of experience growing roses. 


Making rose oil out of the petals of roses has been very important to the country of Bulgaria, particularly to Kazanlak, Bulgaria, where they have an annual Rose Festival to celebrate the rose. An area known as the “Rose Valley” in Kazanlak is a region located just south of the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria.  The rose valley is famous for its rose growing industry, roses have been cultivated there for centuries, and rose valley produces 85% of the world’s rose oil. Bulgarian rose oil is the highest of quality to be found anywhere in the world, quite superior to any other countries rose oil in fact. The extracts (also known as attar) are a precious ingredient of fine perfumes and liqueurs world-wide. They are also used for flavoring lozenges and scenting ointments and toiletries.


The rose gathering process, traditionally the women’s responsibility, requires great dexterity and patience. The rose blooms are carefully cut one by one and laid in willow baskets which are then sent to the distilleries. The gathering process is conducted in the morning when the essential oils are at their peak in the rose petals. The season for gathering of the roses runs from May to June, lasting only about 25 days, beginning slowly and increasing as the roses bloom more abundantly. The pink colored roses are the best for the making of the purest and highest quality rose oil. Out of 5500 to 6000 pounds of the pink colored rose petals collected approximately 2 pounds of rose oil is produced. Thus you can see why Bulgaria’s superior rose oil goes for around $300.00 for one (1) fluid ounce!   


Rose oil belongs to Rosaceae family (Rosaceae), genus Rosa L., subgenus Cynorodon, Section Gallicanae. Roses grown for the purpose of making rose oil are grown in 4 species — Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia (stolistna rose), Rosa gallica and Rosa alba (From the descendants of Rosa damascene.).  While there are more than 5000 varieties of roses, only a few of them exhibit that distinct fragrance that is sought by the perfumeries of the world. The process of actually getting the rose oils is one of steam distillation. The heat used in the distillation process must be carefully monitored and controlled. The aroma of the extracted rose oil can be ruined if the heat has been too high.


An amazing Lady she is this Queen of Flowers, the Rose…….

Growing Roses in Northern Colorado

Growing Roses In Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of rose growing experience


I have attended rose society programs and rose growing classes where it seemed like the person or people doing the program or class seemed out of sync with our area. There seem to be some “standard informational lines” about rose growing that are passed on from one person to the next without any real thought about checking their validity to the actual location. Growing roses in Colorado varies a lot from one location to another depending on altitude as well as the soils in those various locations. When there is a large variation in what works and what does not, within one single State, there are no doubt huge variations from State to State. The variations from our Country to other Countries are surely staggering.


My advice to anyone that is either new to growing roses, or someone that has moved to a new location and wants to grow roses there, is to seek out someone that has grown roses in that location for several years. Perhaps there is a neighbor close by that grows and enjoys roses.  A big plus would be that the location you are in has a local Rose Society with just such people as members. If that society has not only some long time rose growers in that area but also a Consulting Rosarian or two, you have found a gold mine of information indeed. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions about what works and what does not in growing roses in your location. Ask for one of the members of the local Rose Society or a Consulting Rosarian in your location to come by your proposed garden(s) and see what they think of the proposed location(s). It would be helpful to whomever you have come by your proposed garden location if you would dig a couple holes in the soils in the proposed garden locations to expose some of the underlying soils. The American Rose Society has a listing of Consulting Rosarians on their website at www.ars.org . Or maybe better, drive around your neighborhood and look for some nice rose gardens. Stop in and compliment the folks on their rose garden and ask them if they have a minute or two to share some information on growing roses in the area.


 Some statements about growing roses need to be carefully examined. One such statement is that it is not possible to “over water” your roses. “Water your roses as often as you want, roses love water”. Such a statement is not entirely true here in portions of Northern Colorado. We have areas were the clay soils present big problems with drainage. If you were to dig a hole for a rosebush that was 20 inches in diameter and 20 to 24 inches deep, replacing those soils completely, you would have something similar to having planted the rosebush in a large pot without a drainage hole. In such heavy clay you can in fact over water your rosebushes making them sickly and quite possibly losing them. In order to be sure some of these areas have proper drainage, a person would need to dig up the entire proposed garden or rose bed area and replace the soils to a depth of three feet with either totally new soils or heavily amended soils as well as put in a perforated drain line. This sort of drastic action is not likely to take place in most cases. Rather than that, we amend or replace the soils in the top six to twelve inches of the proposed garden location. Or perhaps we practice “spot amending” by just amending the soils or replace the native clayey soils totally in the individual planting locations.

The “spot amending” is done in hopes that the rosebushes’ root system will be strong enough once it reaches the clayey soils to punch through and do just fine. Being careful how much water is applied to the spot amended locations is vitally important. Upon examining some areas where rosebushes have died, I have found a small pool of foul smelling water at the bottom of a very soggy planting hole. The rosebush had no root system to speak of as most of it had long ago rotted off. The times that I found this condition I asked the rose loving gardener how often they watered their roses. The answers were either every other day or every three to four days watering had been done.


I personally do not have real severe clay problems where I live, yet I still do have significant clayey soils to deal with. I amend my soils heavily using the best compost I can find. When I have run into the severe clay problems I have changed out the soils or heavily amended them with some Clay Buster amendment. In the cases where the clay was severe I also dug out trenches partially filled with pea gravel to help create better drainage for my chosen garden location. Trying to figure out exactly when the roses should be watered can be difficult in these clayey conditions.


I use a moisture meter to help me make sure the roses get enough water yet are not over watered. I purchased a moisture meter with the longest probe end on it that I could find. Before watering the roses I push the probe of the moisture meter down into the soils around the rosebush as far as it will go and check the reading. It is important to probe the soils out away from the center of the bush a ways. Probing the soils too close in to the rosebush will not give you good readings of moisture availability to the actual root system. I probe or “moisture test” the soils in at least three different locations around each rosebush to give me better information as to the soils moisture availability all around the bush. I combine the readings around each bush to determine if a good watering is in order, a light watering is in order or if I can wait a while before watering. Keep in mind that even a light watering with a deep watering device can go a long way in real clayey soils.

There are times when I want to probe the soils deeper than my moisture meters probe will reach. In those cases I will dig out a small hole in the soils in the three testing locations and then do the moisture meter testing. The testing holes are filled back in with amended soils and lightly tamped so as not to pack the soils in those areas.  


Watering is just one area where growing roses differs from one locations soils type to another. The nutrients readily available and not readily available in various soils also vary greatly from one location to another. The components needed in the soils to “unlock” the various nutrients for easy uptake by the rosebush root systems can also vary greatly from one location to the next. Having a neighbor that is a gardener is of high value to you if you are just planting your first rose or rose bed as they can probably tell you a lot about the soils and nutrients needed. In the absence of such good local information a soils test done on your proposed garden area is an excellent way to go. A combination of both forms of information is priceless information.


What you read in books or hear in classes on Rose Growing are usually good “general tips or rules” for your use in successful rose growing. However some local information is required to assure that success.



Honey Bouquet - Floribunda Rose - "Sunlit Spray" - Photo By: Stan V. Griep - May 2012.
Honey Bouquet – Floribunda Rose – “Sunlit Spray” – Photo By: Stan V. Griep – May 2012.

Planting Roses in Colorado

Planting Roses in Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience


Some early planning precedes a good planting. I like to plan where some new roses will go the next spring in the preceding fall. I dig the holes for them, amend the soils well and then refill the holes for the roses leaving a 5 or 6-inch mound of the amended soils in each location. By doing this very early digging and amending, the soils have all the rest of the fall and winter to get fully activated. By the time I am ready to plant a new rose, its new home is all ready and in top condition to welcome the new or transplanted rose. The natural nutrients in the amended soils are ready and waiting for the rose to take them up for good growth as well as creating a very favorable environment for the root zone to take hold in. 

This same preparation for the new rose or roses can take place in early spring as well, however the amended soils will not have as much time to get activated and ready for optimum root zone use.


I dig the rose holes approximately 18 inches in diameter and approximately 18 inches deep. The freshly dug soils are placed in a wheelbarrow along with some compost, a good clay buster amendment and some play sand. I sprinkle alfalfa meal over the contents of the wheelbarrow until the entire surface area has a greenish coloration from the alfalfa meal. Using my garden fork I turn the original soils and amendments over and over until well mixed. You will find that the soils mix gets easier and easier to work as it is turned. I remove all clumps of clay that do not want to break up and mix in well. If I have some rabbit droppings available at the time I am doing the soils amending, a heaping garden shovel full of the droppings is added into the soils mix as well.

All tiny and large roots in the planting hole area are cut back and removed. While digging the planting hole the sides of the hole can become very packed. I use my hand cultivator and loosen up the soils on the sides of the planting hole before refilling the hole or doing any future plantings as well. The freshly amended soils are then placed back into the planting hole leaving the 5 to 6 inch mound at the top. I create a little bowl edge around the mound to help trap any moisture and help carry that moisture in to the newly amended soils area. 


When the time comes to plant the new rose or roses, the earlier amended soils are much easier to dig out to create room for the new planting. As the soils are removed for the planting they are placed either in a wheel barrow or five gallon bucket making it easy to use them to fill in around the new planting. I place some super phosphate or bone meal in the bottom of the planting hole and mix it in with the soils there. This natural food gives the roots a real boost to get things growing. Once the planting hole is about half full with the replaced soils, I sprinkle ½ cup of alfalfa meal and 1/3 cup Epsom Salts all around the new bush mixing it in lightly with the soils.


The planting hole is then filled the rest of the way up to ground level. I move some of the soils in and around the union of the rose and may or may not cover the union at this time depending on the timing of the planting.

The rest of the soils are pulled back to form a bowl of sorts all around the outer diameter of the bush. The rosebush looks a little bit like a castle in the center of a moat. Extra amended soils are used to build up and firm up the edges of the bowl around the bush. The bush is watered well and the bowl around it filled with mulch. In my case I use either shredded cedar mulch or pebble mulch. (I call the bowls formed this way “banquet bowls” as they help deliver the food and water to my roses.)  :o) The bowl formed around the rosebushes acts as a great catch basin for spring rains as well as aiding in the overall deep watering of the rose bush when watered by hand or even with a drip irrigation system.


I have found this method of planting my roses eliminates the forming or encouragement of “rose suckers” from planting the rose union deeply right away (As an aid in future winter protection the union is often buried a good 2 inches below the surrounding grade level.).

Rose suckers are new shoots that come up from the rose planting that are below the grafting or union point of the rose bush.


If you plant only “own root” roses you will not have to concern yourself with taking such precautions against sucker shoots.


With my bowl method the graft or union area of the rose is left above the planting soils yet still below the surrounding grade level until the time comes for it to be protected. Very early spring plantings may require that the union/graft area be covered for a while until the weather gets more settled towards being warmer.


Once the time comes for winter protection, the bowl around the rose is used to add extra soils to create part of the mound for protection of the rose’s union/graft area. Soils are mounded up over the graft/union area first.

Mulch of some kind is then added to help hold the soils in place and help prevent the protection of the mounded soils from eroding away throughout the winter.


The last frost date here in Northern Colorado is around May 15th, but keep your eye on the weather reports.


Plant some new roses to add beautiful color and wonderful fragrance to your gardens this year!



Tuscan Sun - Floribunda Rose - First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 - Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012
Tuscan Sun – Floribunda Rose – First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 – Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012

Meanings of Colors of Roses


Meanings of Colors of Roses


 Red  —  Love, Respect


Light Pink  —  Admiration, Sympathy


Deep Pink  —  Gratitude, Appreciation


Yellow  —  Joy, Gladness


White  —  Innocence, Purity


Orange  — Enthusiasm


Red & Yellow Blend  —  Joviality


Pale Blended Tones  — Sociability, Friendship


Red Rosebuds  —  Purity


Rosebuds  — Youth


Single  Roses  — Simplicity


Two Roses Wired Together  —  Coming Marriage or Engagement











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