Rose Color Change

Why do roses change colors?

By: Sandy Feather 2011
Penn State Extension

Q: I am looking for information about my rose bush. I received this yellow rose bush about 15 years ago it was beautiful.
In the last two years, the flowers have all been red. The roses are pretty, but I am curious as to how the flowers changed color.

A: It is common practice for rose growers to graft a desired rose variety onto a rootstock of a different rose. Grafting allows growers to produce more plants in a shorter time and get them to market faster.

Rootstocks are chosen to impart a particular growth habit, increased winter hardiness, vigorous growth and stronger establishment to roses that possess outstanding ornamental characteristics (flower size, color, number, fragrance, growth habit, foliage). Grafting makes it possible for us to enjoy roses that otherwise might not be winter hardy in our climate or that grow so weakly only experienced and well-equipped rosarians can care for them properly.

yellow rose


arrangement of red roses

The graft generally appears as a bump or knob near the base of the plant. In our climate, it is good practice to plant roses so this graft union is two inches below the soil surface.

Roses Winter Kill

Unfortunately, the top of a grafted rose the yellow rose you started out with can die from winter injury. The following spring, the rose appears to start growing as normal, but when it blooms, the flowers are often much different than the original rose. The roses that are blooming for you now are from the rootstock there are a number in common in use.

Winter Protection for Roses

One of the easiest ways to protect roses for the winter is to mound about eight inches of soil up over the graft union. This ensures that the variety survives the winter, not just the rootstock. Make sure to pull the soil from other areas of your yard, not from around the base of the rose. 


Giving roses and what the colors mean

Rose Rosette Disease RRD

Rose midge


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