Standard Roses

You may have seen these labeled as tree roses. Basically these are a grafted combination of two plants. Usually it will be a large flowering breed (hybrid tea or English) combined with a long stemmed multiflora as the base. People in milder climates may get a Dr. Huey on the bottom.

Roses in my garden
Some of the standard roses in my garden

The term is believed to have come from 1800s England, when Victorian gardeners were first making these creations in the royal gardens. Back then they were called rose standards. This term was later reversed to be the term often heard today. They were first used before that period though, probably in the late 1700s. Besides British growers, German gardeners in the mid to late 1800s also grew them extensively. Today you’ll find the English David Austin varieties remain very popular for these.

Use these rose to give your garden a variety of height. They can look very impressive when mixed in with some tightly manicured small shrubs or groundcovers. You can plant them in rows along a walkway, or are great for a lawn where a typical tree would be too big or unwieldy.

Most standards tend to be around a meter in height, putting the blooms at eye (and nose!) level. Recently, there has been an influx of dwarf varieties, which only get about 12 inches high or so. I’m not quite sure what the point of those are, but evidently some gardeners like them! We also have a very tall tree rose, – unknown variety – the stem of that is over 2 meters (more than 6′). While it looks fantastic from a distance, the flowers are just out of reach. Still, it makes a wonderful spot to sit and relax in the shade on those hot summer days.

The issue with standard roses is that the grafting can make them weak. Specifically, winterizing is the main problem. Any climates where the temperature will drop below freezing on a regular basis can be a problem for these. Unless you have indoor storage or can fully cover them, they might not survive the harshest winters. In most cases, they are best left for a mild or warm-weather climates.