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How Are the Names of Roses Created?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many new breeds of roses are created each year, and the horticulturalist who breeds the new rose names it. With a few exceptions, this person can chose to name the rose in any way he or she sees fit. Historically, roses have been named for people, including family members of the breeder and celebrities. Roses are also named for concepts and emotions as well as for the qualities of the rose.

Some of the more popular names for roses are borrowed from celebrities. In order for a rose to be named after someone who is famous, that person must approve the use of his or her name in the name of the rose. The breeder will often send the person a few sample plants to choose which rose they prefer for their name to be attached to. Breeders also often use the names of their loved ones as the names of roses.

A person who is not a rose breeder can purchase a new breed of rose and give that breed a name as well. There are a number of Internet sites that offer new rose breeds and crossbreeds for prospective clients to purchase. Roses are frequently crossbred and new crossbreeds are not named until the plant goes to flower. Plants that are pleasant but not spectacular are often sold in this manner, to be named by the buyer.

Aside from giving names of roses the names of people, rose breeders can also give roses names based on the qualities of the rose. Some of the names of roses refer to the colors or smells in the rose, while others may be an attempt to elicit a certain feeling from the person who smells the rose. There are also names of roses that are meant to be whimsical and that do not necessarily attempt to describe the rose but which may still be used to call up a certain emotion.

Though the breeder of the rose has final say in how the rose will be named, there are a few guidelines that must be followed. Roses cannot be given names that contain the names of other types of flowers, even if it is in a person’s name, such as Iris or Lily. The names of roses also cannot be vulgar or contain profanity, though there are some roses that have questionable names because the names they were given were appropriate at the time. Each rose must also be given a name that is not being used by any other breed of rose and one that does not infringe on any copyrights.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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