The Damask rose was introduced officially in Europe during the XIII century, brought from Persia; but was probably in Europe before that, since it shows up in ancient Roman frescoes, specifically the Autumn Damask rose. R. damascena can be found nowadays in the wild around Morocco, Andalusia, the Middle East and the Caucasus. It may also be a descendant of the musk rose.
These roses are shrubs and are also included on what is referred as old garden roses (OGR), Heritage or Antiques. Damasks are related to gallicas. Summer damasks are crosses between gallicas and R. phoenicea and autumn damasks between Gallicas and R. moschata.
These varieties are very resistant, vigorous and robust, with vicious thorns. Develop into large and tall plants, mostly growing to around 4ft x 36 in / 1.2m x 90cm. Use a damask in the garden as a feature, by itself or in mixed borders and beds.
Damask roses require minimal care and are easy to grow. They tolerate any type of soil, except chalk. Give them some general fertilizer in spring and rose food in mid-summer and cover the soil at their bottom with organic mulch and they will be happy. Some pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. Just cut out the weak or diseased stems and enough just to establish a good plant shape. Do cut dead heads in late summer also.
Damasks flowers are the most fragrant roses from the Old Garden. In ancient times they were grown for perfume, rose oil or attar of roses. Cosmetic products were made from them. There is recent research made on R. damascena essential oil, to prove its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-microbial activities.
Most Damasks only have one flush of flowers, in summer. An exception is the rose 'Autumn Damask' that flowers during summer and autumn, repeatedly. Flowers are semi-double or double blooms made of velvety petals. Damask roses are known for their 60 petals and were treated as queens in Persian and Arabian gardens.
Wild roses, Hybrids, climbers, miniatures and more. Make some sense of the multitude of rose varieties with our handy guides.
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