The scene opens with a young man walking across a park in springtime. A whimsical glance over his shoulder and he sees her–stunning, captivating, almost ethereal. It’s love at first sight. Quick to act, he picks a nearby rose and brings it to her. But it’s no ordinary rose, no. It’s a purple rose, lavender and perfect. Romance ensues.
What are they?
Okay, so maybe I got a bit carried away in my introduction, but purple roses have a history of being used in such situations. A purple rose, also known as a lavender rose, is one of the rarest colors of the rose family. That’s because they do not occur naturally in the wild. They are a man-made crafting of blended varieties that finally achieved that perfect, deep color.
The rose first appeared in the 1800’s. Roses from China were cross-bred with European varieties to produce a number of new colors, one of which was purple.
To say that a purple rose is beautiful is quite the understatement. They’re more than that. Captivating and enchanting, they have caught the attention of many a rose lover since their creation.
What do they represent?
The color of these roses varies from lavender to mauve and into the deep purples. Because of the variety of shades and hues, these flowers have a range of meanings as well.
Some use them to represent enchantment and love at first sight (as in the opening of this article). Due to the connection of the color purple to royalty, they also sometimes represent majesty. But let’s not forget their ethereal/magical quality, qualities which they are often used to represent.
Famous Uses of Purple Roses
There have been many famous uses of the lavender rose. Woody Allen’s 1985 movie The Purple Rose of Cairo was, naturally, in part a fantasy film where a film character decides to walk off screen and enter the real world (magic/ethereal).
A somewhat more recent film, the 1996 film Bed of Roses, is a wistful romance involving a secret admirer who starts sending the leading lady flowers out of the blue. In one scene of the movie the love interest covers his rooftop garden with lavender roses to woo his woman.
Where as the traditional red rose represents love and romance, the purple rose adds an air of mystery, magic and fantasy.
How to Grow Purple Roses
If you’re going to try and grow purple roses in your garden, the first thing you need to do is determine what color you’re actually after and what properties you’re looking for. All lavender roses are not created equal, and you don’t want any surprises!
Here are a few high quality varieties and their properties:
- Ebb Tide – a great deep purple rose
- Midnight Blue – good for containers (nice to keep near the house or the door)
- Neptune – heavy producer its first year, great for the impatient gardener
- Purple Heart (Tom Carruth) – very fragrant, spicy aroma
- Sweetness – rose of the year in 2009, large lavender blooms
A quick Google search for those names plus “purple rose” will yield many places where you can buy the plants.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when growing these wonderful blooms:
- they need sun most of the day
- make sure the soil is moist (getting 12-18 inches of water per week), but never soaked or with pools of water at their base
- use chipped mulch for keeping the moisture down near the roots where it’s most needed
- prune the plants as needed, removing dead blooms with your fingers, and prune more heavily after the first frost of winter
- during the winter season add a layer of straw around the base, above the mulch to keep the plant warm – but discard the straw in spring
- fertilize with a rose food fertilizer like 10-10-10, once before blooming and once during the season
Recent purple roses are much hardier than the varieties of the past, and bloom multiple times per season. So they’re easier to take care of and produce bounteous flowers. Enjoy them, and even if you’ve been in love for a very long time, it never hurts to surprise your love with a single purple rose.