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Award of Merit Article


by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

Do you ever notice when walking through a rose garden or nursery that there are more pink, red and white roses than any other colors? The majority of old roses fall into these color classes and have been used most often by hybridizers. There are very few naturally occurring yellow roses, and it is believed that all current yellow roses can trace their heritage to Rosa foetida one that dates back to the 1500s. The yellow to orange coloring in roses appears to be a recessive trait that would disappear under the dominant influence of pink. In 1900, a French hybridizer introduced Soleil dOr, a cross between a red hybrid perpetual and Rosa foetida persiana. This cross created a yellow rose that was able to survive interbreeding. Unfortunately, Rosa foetida (which by the way has a rather sickly sweet odor) was very susceptible to black spot, and this trait has been carried forward to many modern yellow roses.

The good news is there are many wonderful yellow roses hybrid teas, floribundas, shrubs and miniatures. Included below are a dozen roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or better and are classified as a light yellow, medium yellow or dark yellow color. I grow many of these and can attest to their overall great performance.

Name Type Color ARS Rating Year Introduced
Elina Hybrid Tea Light Yellow 8.8 1984
Fairhope Miniature Light Yellow 8.1 1937
Frulingsgold Hybrid Spinosissima Medium Yellow 8.1 1937
Gold Medal Grandiflora Medium Yellow 8.5 1982
Golden Wings Shrub Light Yellow 8.9 1956
Graham Thomas Shrub Deep Yellow 8.2 1983
R. banksiae lutea Species Light Yellow 9.1 1924
Mermaid Hybrid Bracteata Light Yellow 8.6 1918
Mrs Oakley Fisher Hybrid Tea Deep Yellow 8.4 1921
My Sunshine Miniature Medium Yellow 8.6 1986
Rise 'n' Shine Miniature Medium Yellow 8.5 1977
Sunsprite Floribunda Deep Yellow 8.5 1977

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