Secret Life of Flowers – Revealing A History of Roses

Is there anything more romantic than a rose? With blooms available in virtually any color of the rainbow, the rose has become a staple in bouquets and lush garden landscapes since as far back as I can remember. But this dreamy flower is anything but ordinary. Stick around and learn a little more about the amorous rose and how you can elevate your rose bouquet game. 

A History of Roses

Roses have a long history. According to fossil evidence, the rose dates back 35 million years! One hundred and fifty different species grow naturally throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Alaska to Mexico and even northern Africa, however it’s said that garden cultivation of this vibrant flower began only 5,000 years ago, probably in China.

During the Roman period, roses were widely grown in the Middle East. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and, of course, as a source of perfume.

By the fifteenth century, the rose became a symbol for the factions fighting to control England — white for York and red for Lancaster. As a result, the conflict became known as the “War of the Roses.”

Roses were in such high demand during the seventeenth century that royalty considered them as legal tender. Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, planted a vast collection of roses at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris in the 1800s. This garden became the setting for Pierre Joseph Redoute’s work as a botanical illustrator. In 1824, he completed his watercolor collection “Les Rose,” which is still considered one of the most exceptional botanical paintings.

But, it wasn’t until the late eighteenth century that cultivated roses were introduced into Europe from China. Most modern-day roses can be traced back to this ancestry. 

Rainbow Rose

The Meaning of Different Colored Roses and When to Send Them. 

Every rose has its own special meaning. As you’re making your selections for someone special, be sure to keep the symbolism of each color in mind. It may sound like a lot of pressure, but don’t worry — we have gone ahead and done the research for you! Bookmark this handy guide to choose the perfect rose bouquet for all your friends, family, and loved ones.

Red: This color represents romance, love, beauty, and perfection. It’s no wonder this is the traditional color for Valentine’s Day!

Orange: Bright orange represents life, energy, passion and excitement. Bring a bouquet of these fiery flowers on a first date to show you find them irresistible. Softer shades, like peach, are used to express sincerity or gratitude, a serene choice to bring to a dinner party to thank a hostess for having you.

Yellow: The yellow rose symbolizes warmth, friendship, and joy. Imagine the delight on your best friend’s face when they open a vibrant bouquet of these sunny blooms on their birthday!

White: White roses have long symbolized purity, innocence, grace, and humility. Popular wedding flowers, they have also come to represent new beginnings and growing love. You can never go wrong with a stunning arrangement of pure white roses to celebrate a wedding or anniversary.

Pink: Pink roses are typically sent to express admiration, or used to represent elegance, and femininity. An ideal choice for a young girl celebrating her Sweet 16 or Quinceanera.

Lavender: Lavender roses represent desire and love at first sight. Use them to tell someone that you find them enchanting.

But what if your feelings extend far beyond the call of one color? Mix and match the colors above in any way you see fit, however, keep in mind that some combinations have meanings all their own. 

For example, a bouquet of red and white roses represents unity, which makes this combination a wonderful choice for anniversaries, long relationships, or to simply thank someone who has stuck by your side throughout the years. A mixture of red and yellow roses symbolizes happiness, but when you give yellow roses with orange or red tips, you’re telling the receiver that your feelings of friendship are growing into a budding love.

Depositphotos_178025020_xl-2015 (1)

Why Do We Send Roses for Valentine’s Day?

Red roses are practically synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but have you ever wondered how this tradition came to be? It turns out that your go-to long-stemmed botanical gift dates back to a former King of Sweden.

In the late 17th century, King Charles II reigned over Sweden. After a trip to Persia, the King became enthralled with a new expressionist art that focused on one’s ability to communicate using flowers without saying any words at all: the language of flowers. This art quickly spread throughout Europe, and lists of flowers and their meaning were distributed amongst the people.

In the language of flowers, gifting someone a yellow carnation meant they’d upset you. On the flipside, giving someone a purple hyacinth meant you were sorry and asking forgiveness. The red rose, however, was used to represent love, a symbolic anecdote from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. 

In Greek mythology, it is said that rose bushes grew from the ground through Aphrodite’s tears and the blood of her lover, Adonis. When The Romans turned Aphrodite into their goddess Venus, they kept the rose as her symbol of love and beauty. So when Valentine’s Day became the mainstream holiday we know today, the rose was an obvious choice to say I love you.

Caring for your roses

Roses make a beautiful centerpiece that compliments any decor, but cut flowers unfortunately seem to have a short shelf life. Read on to learn how to make the most of your beautiful blooms and keep them healthy longer! 

  1. Prepare the Container – It’s important to put your flowers in a clean vase. Be sure to wash the container to rid it of any dirt, dust, and grime, to ensure your flowers get the best start possible.
  1. Use Lukewarm Water – When you fill the vase, don’t use water that’s too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures can shock the blooms and shorten their life, so it’s better to use lukewarm or room-temperature water.
  1. Use Flower Food – If you’ve received cut flowers, surely you’ve seen that little packet wrapped up with the stems. That is special food that is designed to keep cut flowers looking fresh. Dissolve the packet in the vase of water before putting the flowers in—your flowers will thank you.
  1. Trim the Stems – Cut the ends at an angle before putting the flowers in a vase. This will make it easier for the flowers to soak up the water and will keep them looking their best for longer.
  1. Change the Water – Debris left in the water can rot and shorten the life of your blooms, so changing the water regularly will help keep them fresh. Be sure to remove dead leaves and petals that have fallen as well. 

How to make Rose Potpourri

You’ve done all you can to make your roses last, but nothing good can last forever. Or can it? Turning those wilted roses into a batch of potpourri is a great way to preserve rose petals and memories. Fill sachets to scent drawers, or place potpourri in a bowl to add fragrance to a room.

  • Pull the petals off the roses.(He loves me, he loves me not!)
  • Spread the petals out on a screen and let them dry in a warm and dry place (approximately 2 – 3 days).
  • Separately, dry some whole rose buds, some lavender, some rosemary, and some orange peel. (You can add any sort of scent you like! The sky really is the limit here!)
  • In a bowl, combine one cup of dried rose petals, one half cup of dried lavender, and one quarter cup of dried rosemary. Add one eighth teaspoon of ground cloves and cinnamon, plus dried rosebuds and orange peels. Next, incorporate a few drops of rose or lavender oil. Add one quarter teaspoon of fixative like crushed orris root.  Orris root can be found in many health food and herbal stores. Mix well. 
  • Pour the mixture into a Mason jar. Cover the mouth with Saran wrap. Store the jar in a cool dark place for 6 weeks. 
  • In 6 weeks the mixture will be blended. Transfer to a bowl or use the lid to be removed when you want to release the fragrance. You can also sew the mixture into small bags to put into drawers, closets, or storage boxes.


(Recipe credit:

You’ve learned a ton about the history of Roses. Now what?

Share this post:

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top