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What Are Standard Roses?

By O. Parker
Updated May 16, 2024
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Standard roses are cultivated by grafting several rose varieties together to produce a tall plant that has long stems and colorful, complex flowers. Standard roses, also called rose standards or tree roses, come in dwarf and full size varieties. When cultivating this plant variety, horticulturists combine the best elements of a strong rootstock, a tall stem, and the desired flower. There are many different varieties and cultivars, with more appearing every year. Standard roses are used in the landscape to create height and color elements and often are used for cut flower arraignments.

Grafting is an ancient method of plant reproduction used by horticulturists to combine the most desirable elements of several varieties of a plant species. There are many methods and variations of grafting. Commonly, a cutting from a plant that produces good flowers or fruit is grafted onto a variety that produces strong roots and demonstrates rapid growth. Roses have woody stems that are well suited for grafting. Centuries of breeding and grafting have lead to a vast array of rose varieties and cultivars.

A standard rose combines the best elements of three different rose plants. One of the plants is chosen for its strong roots, resistance to soil disease, and good growth rate. This plant is called the rootstock. The top of the rootstock plant is cut off, and a long-stem rose variety is grafted onto it. Once the graft takes, the top of the long stem plant is removed, and a cutting from a rose with good flower color and production is grafted onto it.

In the landscape, standard roses create height in rose gardens and shrub beds and add color to border areas. Often used to line pathways, tree roses are hard to top for elegance and beauty. Standard roses are well suited as specimen shrubs in the landscape as well. In addition to a seemingly endless array of colors, single trees with several different flower colors are also available. Planted in a large container, a standard rose makes a striking addition to a patio, porch, or other outdoor living area.

Full-size standard roses grow 4 to 6 feet (about 1.2 to 1.8 m) tall. Dwarf varieties generally grow 12 inches (about 30 cm) tall. Dwarf standard roses share the tree-like shape, the long stems, and the rich flower color, just in a smaller size.

Standard roses require more protection in the landscape then other bushes or climbing roses. An area that is protected from wind is required. When the plants are being established, a stake can help keep them upright.

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Discussion Comments
By lighth0se33 — On Jan 06, 2013

@StarJo – I always buy standard roses, because to me, they smell the best! I buy them for growing in my yard, though.

I love the fact that I smell a wonderful fragrance every time I step outside. The roses are planted not far from my doorway, so the smell always hits me when I go out the door.

Another good thing about standards is that since they are up high, you can smell them more easily. They are just about level with my nose.

By StarJo — On Jan 05, 2013

I think that the red roses that my boyfriend orders from the florist for me on special occasions are standard roses. They have long, strong stems and big, beautiful flowers.

They also smell really good. Many of the roses growing around town don't have a strong scent, but these standards sure do.

By DylanB — On Jan 04, 2013

Growing standard roses can be a pain if you live in an area that gets a lot of strong wind from thunderstorms. I tried growing several rose trees one summer, but we had so many bad storms that my trees all toppled over.

Standard roses grow on a cane, and I had that staked for extra security. Even this wasn't enough to stand up to sixty-plus mile per hour wind and hail, though.

By seag47 — On Jan 04, 2013

These roses are so pretty! My neighbor has some purple standard roses growing in his front yard, and I really wish that I knew how to take care of them, because he offered to give me a cutting.

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