History of Roses

The history of roses is deep and entertaining. Learn more about their exciting past and how they have played a role in our world as it goes through time.


The plant itself has been in existences for millions of years. The earliest fossil records date it back to over 30 million years ago. Early Greek civilization had paintings that showed the rose prominently. There was also evidence of Chinese cultures that revered the rose. They may have kept gardens for thousands of years, although records are sketchy at best.

Roman Empire

It was one of the first plants to be bred and domesticated. The Romans were particularly fond of it and had many gardens built to cultivate it. It was during this time that many of the meanings we now associate with them were started, such as romance and purity. The Egyptians also enjoyed it. Marc Antony used them as his secret "weapon" when trying to woo Cleopatra.

War of the Roses

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the use of the rose widespread fell out of favor until the end of the middle ages. The most remembered use was in the War of the Roses, in England. Kingdoms would often use different roses as a symbol. Here the White Rose of York was pitted against the Red Rose of Lancaster, and a vicious fight broke out between the two families. It was only King Henry who was able to stop the fighting by marrying between the two clans, and creating the Tudor Rose.


During the Renaissance, rose growing grew in popularity, especially as explorers found new and interesting breeds. The China rose and specimens from the Middle East and Africa made its way back to Europe, where breeders worked with them. The Dutch and French were especially good at this. This was the start of many of our modern roses.


In the 20th century, more and more hybridization took place and science took a part. The introduction of hybrid teas made gardening easier than ever.

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