If you’ve ever picked up a rose bouquet from the grocery store or sniffed at the options in a florist’s shop, you might have been disappointed by the lack of scent in those beautiful blooms.
With preference given to breeding roses for hardiness and appearance, many cultivated roses have gradually lost much of their lovely fragrance over the years.
Without scent, wild roses won’t attract the birds and bees they need to pollinate their blooms. But those grown in greenhouses with human help don’t need such assistance. A study of what causes roses to bloom found that a specific enzyme, RhNUDX1, when active, created the scent of roses.
While some roses have lost their scent, there are still many varieties of roses renowned for their scent.
“Old garden roses, also known as antique and historic roses, which mostly flower once, tend to be the most richly fragrant roses,” according to Homes and Gardens. “The classic perfume is found in gallica roses and their hybrids, such as damasks, while clove scents are found in musk roses.”
If you want to plant, buy or just smell the most fragrant roses, you might look for some of these among the various rose colors and classifications.
The Double Delight hybrid tea rose was first bred in the U.S. in 1977 and has a “strong, spicy” fragrance. The Double Delight also stands out with its beautiful two-toned colors: cream in the center edged with pinkish-red. In 1985, the flower joined the World Federation of Rose Societies’ Rose Hall of Fame.
Gertrude Jekyll was a famous British horticulturist who planted hundreds of gardens in Europe and America. So, it makes sense that one of the most fragrant roses is named after her. Another famous British rose grower, David Austin, created and named the Gertrude Jekyll rose in 1986. It is an English shrub rose and climbing rose that’s very popular in Great Britain. The pink rose makes it onto the list of some of the most fragrant roses because of its “quintessential old rose fragrance.”
With its catchy name, the Just Joey rose is an orange hybrid tea rose with a fruity scent. You might be surprised to know that Just Joey is named after a woman: Roger Pawsey, one of the owners of the long-established Cants of Colchester rose growers, named the rose after his wife, Joey. It was dubbed the “world’s favorite rose” in 1994.
Mister Lincoln has been acclaimed as the best red rose out there, not only for its deep red hue but also for it’s fragrance. The hybrid tea rose has a heavy damask scent, sweetly pungent. The rose was introduced in the U.S. in 1964 and won the 1965 All-American Rose Selections. It’s remained very popular to this day. This type of rose is also often used to make rose water.
Honey Perfume is an apricot floribunda rose that can fade to almost white while it blooms. It’s also known as the JACarque rose and is relatively new. It was first created in 1993 and won the All-American Rose Selections in 2004. The Honey Perfume rose has a spicy, strongly scented fragrance.
Madame Isaac Pereire
This old world rose was originally named “Le Bienheureux de la Salle” by its original cultivator, Armand Garçon, but it was later renamed after the wife of a French banker around 1880. Lucky her! Madame Isaac Pereire is a climbing rose with cabbage-leaf-like petals and a pink hue. It has a fruity, raspberry scent.
Among the most fragrant roses is the Munstead Wood rose. Cultivated by the previously mentioned David Austin Roses, it was named after horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll’s garden in Surrey, England. The rose is an English shrub rose hybrid with a deep red color. The Munstead Wood rose is a newer rose, introduced in 2007. David Austin Roses describes it as having “warm, fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry and damson(plum).”
The Generous Gardener rose is an English climbing rose. It has notes of old rose, musk and myrrh in its fragrance and is a pretty pink color. The rose was named for the 75th anniversary of the National Gardens Scheme in Great Britain, an organization that raises money for charity by giving public access to private British gardens.
This aptly named rose has a unique speckled and striped, white and red appearance. Scentimental is a floribunda rose that won the prestigious 1997 All-America Rose Selection award. Sweet and spicy notes come off this fragrant rose, which was created in 1996 by Tom Carruth, a prolific American rose breeder.
All of these most fragrant roses would make an excellent addition to your garden if you’re based in the right growing zone and conditions.
When you pick roses, do you go for their appearance, their scent or both? What’s your favorite color or scent in a rose?