WATCH: The Queen Elizabeth Rose Is as Regal as Its Namesake
This majestic bloom was inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame.
Have you met Rosa 'Queen Elizabeth'? This grandiflora rose was the first of its kind, and it has become a longtime garden favorite thanks to its dramatic clusters of pretty pink blooms. The Queen Elizabeth rose is both beloved and enduring, much like its namesake. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ is named for Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, and it’s no surprise that the rose has become as esteemed a garden planting as its namesake is a royal leader.
The Queen Elizabeth rose first appeared on the garden scene in the early 1950s. It was hybridized by Dr. Walter Lammerts, who crossed a hybrid tea rose (Charlotte Armstrong) and a floridbunda (Floradora) to create it. Lammerts called the beautiful rose that resulted a “grandiflora.” It was the beginning of a category that has subsequently come to contain many popular roses. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was named the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) Winner in 1955, just two years after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation took place, and the rose was also inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame in 1979. It cemented its place as one of the best-loved roses then, and it’s still a popular shrub in Southern gardens today for many reasons, one of which is its longevity. This is a hardy rose that can withstand difficult environments, including intermittent cold weather. It thrives in full sun when planted in moist, well-draining soil, and it is resistant to the pests and diseases that plague other roses.
The Queen Elizabeth rose produces blooms in shades that fall between salmon, shell pink, and silver pink hues. The ever-blooming flowers have slight variations, as some are slightly darker pink, while others are paler. The soft pink petals contrast with its foliage, which is almost as beautiful as its flowers. The roses’ leaves are shiny, leathery, and dark green, a perfect juxtaposition to the heavy, creamy pink blossoms that emerge in late spring and continue through summer. The blooms have high centers and a moderately sweet and subtle rose fragrance. The plant itself produces long stems and very few thorns, which are ideal characteristics particularly for a cutting garden.
To plant ‘Queen Elizabeth,’ situate it in well-draining soil and make sure the shrub receives full sun and regular water. It is a low-maintenance planting, but to ensure blooms each year, plan to prune in late winter or early spring. The shrub can be expected to reach heights of 4 to 6 feet tall but has been known to rise to 10 feet tall if not regularly pruned. It’s a versatile planting and can be used in borders, beds, containers, and even hedges.
What are your favorite roses to plant in your garden? Do you have favorites for cutting gardens or flower arrangements?