The phenomenon of autumn and winter roses


Each rosebush in the garden is a little different in its tastes and preferences as far as sun and water go. Each one blooms at its preferred time during the year as well. When I first embarked on planting roses, I had no idea that there would be so much diversity in blooming times--nor did I anticipate the majority of the roses would be giving me an "encore bloom" as the outside temperatures cooled toward the end of the year.

Consistently every year, as the dryness and heat of summer slips into the toasty days of September and early October the roses begin to look a bit peaked and tired. My brain is okay with that because it is turning autumn after all.

But then the first autumn rains come and something miraculous happens to the roses... they bloom as if it's May again.

Mystery rose (was mislabeled as "Sterling" when I bought it)

After 12 years of watching this phenomenon happen, I'm beginning to expect it instead of being surprised by it. It still seems like a miracle to me though and never ceases to delight me.

The temperatures continue to get cooler and cooler throughout the month of November (our overnight temps are now dipping into the 40-45F (4-7C) range. But the roses seem to get happier and continue to bloom and will continue to do so until Christmas Day when I've learned I can always count on roses in bloom for the holiday.

"Janice Kellogg"

There are subtle differences between the autumn and Christmas blooms and the earlier blooms of spring and early summer. The autumn buds are smaller and tighter--often darker in color. The buds take longer to open and when they do the petals are often more crepe-like with variegation and patterns that weren't there in the spring.

"Sheer Magic"

I have one rosebush (a mystery rose that was here before we were) that refuses to bloom all summer. It loses all its leaves as if it was winter. Then when autumn rolls around, it begins to get foliage again and by December and January it is putting out its lovely pale pink teacup-sized blossoms for me to enjoy in the midst of a fairly dormant winter garden. It is really delightful to have that special gift every year at a time that is hard for me because the days are short and the sun often hides behind a low marine layer of clouds.

This is what I still have to look forward to as Christmas Day draws nearer...

The winter-blooming pink mystery rose on Christmas Day 2007

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  1. Breathtaking photos of gorgeous roses. Fascinating details about their calendar blooms. Since we are in a similar weather cycle, I'm curious if you prune before Thanksgiving/Christmas. Thanks for the names of the various roses.They are just spectacular.

    1. I deadhead the roses and make any necessary adjustments if something is encroaching on a walking path but other than that I don't prune until Jan or Feb. Sometimes they get another pruning in Sept but not a major one.

  2. Beautiful Cindy! I've seen our roses bloom here too. So fun!

    1. Your climate would definitely make for great encore and Christmas roses.

  3. I love your roses, beautiful shots, and it's so nice to see those colors. Mine are all blooming under the snow, well the red colored mini one is, the rest are just sitting there.

    I noticed that after it cooled down here everything perked up again. Lovely to see.


    1. The cool down perk up must be common in places that have hot and somewhat dry summers.

      The image of your mini rose blooming under snow seems magical to me kind if like a fairy tale. I know, I'm weird.

  4. Oh my! Those are absolutely gorgeous! Each one more stunning than the last. What a delightful way to say farewell to summer and hello to frostier weather. *sigh*

  5. What a delightful "gift" for Christmas! I love your pink rose!


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