My mutant Botzaris rose

When I first saw Redoute’s illustrations of proliferous roses — rose flowers sprouting directly from other rose flowers in a bizarre, beautiful chain — I thought they were some kind of nineteenth century practical joke, but according to UC Davis, this unusual condition is actually called rose phyllody, and I got to observe it first hand in my garden this year.

Proliferous Botzaris

Proliferous Botzaris

UC Davis’s web site says that rose phyllody can be caused by a virus, but is usually a result of environmental stress. Since the rose bush shows no other signs of disease, this probably occurred because of the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing, from stretches of sub-zero weather in the winter, to a very hot summer punctuated by occasional fierce thunderstorms (note the brown edges of the Botzaris flowers–they’re always sensitive to overhead water, and they don’t seem to like this heat either).

The bud sprouting out of the flower did open, which let Botzaris beat out Chapeau du Napoleon as the last once-blooming rose in my garden this year. It smelled as fabulous as I would expect from Botzaris, but was so crisped by the 100-degree weather it didn’t make for a pretty picture.


About eabwheeler

Freelance writer mainly working on projects about history, historic preservation, and children and nature. I'm also venturing into historical fiction and fantasy. I have graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture. I like gardening, sewing, folk music, and rainy afternoons with a good book. My debut novel, a Victorian paranormal mystery, THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL, will be available in print and ebook July 14, 2015 from Cedar Fort Publishing.
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2 Responses to My mutant Botzaris rose

  1. roberta4949 says:

    poor rose, maybe you need to pick different roses for your situation, some roses cant handle water (I had a white rose that hte flowers turned brown after a rain and it always suffered powdery mildew,)some can’t handle the heat some handle the cold better my new dawns is handling all the rain we had and high temp very well, I am surprised, I kept pruning off any leaves that started to get black spot and it seemed to help prevent wide spread)my john davis is handling it all like a real trooper, black spot is minimal, the fairy rose, what can I say it handles it all no matter what it is,never seen a black spot on it and I have had it now for 6 years or more. my robin hood doesn’t do cold very well it gets quite a bit of tip die back, but I transplanted it to a warmer location hopfully it will look better next year, rugosas, what can I say the hardiest rose I ever seen so far. if it rains all the time,okay, when hot and dry a while, okay when cold okay, I mean it can take it all without black spot wilting flowers or anything, love it to death.

    • eabwheeler says:

      You’re absolutely right, roberta4949, it’s really important to choose roses (and other plants) that are right for your location. A rose can be great in one part of the country and terrible in another. In my semi-arid zone 5, my biggest concern is usually cold-hardiness, but I do push the envelope with a few roses like Old Blush and Aimee Vibert and give them lots of winter protection. Botzaris has always done really well for me before; it blooms mid-June to early July here, which is usually dry and pleasant. We just had a bad year this year, and it taught me that Botzaris isn’t a rose for hot or rainy spots! It sounds like you have a lovely garden. Rugosas really are troopers, and I’ve heard good things about John Davis and The Fairy; maybe I’ll find room for them at some point!

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