The More You Know: Why Do Roses Change Color?

Roses

When I moved into my house, the yard was filled with beautiful roses that had very unique colors and hues. The neighbors would walk by our house slowly just to see the lovely roses. One season, I walked outside to take a look at my blooming roses and they had all turned white. I had no idea how that could have happened. Year after year the roses continued to be white, never to posses those beautiful colors again. My only solution is to dig them up and plant new ones. But I couldn’t help but wonder why do roses change colors? Here are a few issues that may be the answer to that question.

Cross Pollination

If you have two different kinds of roses planted close together, they could cross pollinate and produce a different color rose all together. The different color rose would happen to the new rose bush and not the original rose bushes.

Grafting

Most rose plants that are sold have been grafted to create unique colors. If a portion of that graft dies, the original rootstock will dominate and produce its original color. This is why it is very important to protect your roseā€˜s roots during the winter. I think this is what happened to my roses. Mulching would have helped to keep the roots from freezing and dying.

Sport

Sometimes you will notice that one flower may be a bit different or a shoot may be odd from the rest of the plant. This indicates that a mutation has happened, which will change the growth pattern of the plant. The strange looking shoot is called a Sport.

Fading

The sun can do major damage to the roses including fading out the color. This is why it is encouraged to plant your rose bushes in a shaded area. I have one of my red rose bushes planted under the steps leading into my home. It has lots of shade and it has grown beautifully every year.

Strange conditions

It is not uncommon that a rose will respond to changes in its surroundings. The confusing weather patterns, the change in the nutrients of the soil and such will cause a rose to change in color as well as in other ways. The changes may be small at first, but could eventually alter the growth of the plant.

Strangely enough plants can also get attached to their caregivers and take on the stress from them. From my own personal experience, my great grandmother was a huge gardener and when she became ill with cancer, the garden seemed to notice. She had an orchard filled with apple, peach, plum, and pecan trees. When she died every last tree died as well. It was as though she took them with her — amazing.

Image: iStockPhoto

Have you seen your roses change color?