A Guide to Choosing the Right Roses for Any Occasion

Roses are red and violets are blue, but sometimes roses are blue, too. What does a blue rose mean?

A variety of different-colored roses are grown, and white roses can also be manipulated with dyes by florists to create unique color combinations!

Generally, deeper colors are associated with more powerful emotions such as passion, pride, excitement and energy, while softer colors convey gentler emotions such as happiness, grace, cheer and appreciation.

Red Roses

The classic red rose (pictured above) is a sign of passion and deep emotion. It’s the typical sign of love, commonly given to a significant other on a holiday of love such as Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. This is a go-to for a reason, when it comes to letting someone know how you feel about them!

White Roses

The white rose is often seen as a sign of purity and spirituality. White roses are commonly used in weddings as a symbol of young and chaste love between a bride and her groom. They can also be used as a symbol of sympathy for a floral arrangement at a funeral, or given as a thoughtful gesture for someone who’s grieving.

Yellow Roses

Historically, yellow roses were sometimes thought to be a symbol of jealousy, but now they more commonly symbolize friendship and happiness. Giving this color of rose is solely a platonic gesture of joy and caring.

Peach or Pink Roses

Similarly, pink or peach roses convey sweetness and gratitude. These can be given as a thoughtful way to say “Thank you!” or to brighten someone’s day and let them know you’re thinking about them (romantically or not). These can also be an appropriate shade of rose to give to someone who’s grieving.

Orange Roses

Orange roses are cheerful and energizing. Similar to red roses, they symbolize fiery passion and pride.

Purple roses growing on a fence - A guide to choosing the right roses for any occasion

Purple and Lavender Roses

Purple roses are related to royalty and grace—the deeper the purple, the more majesty they convey. Lavender roses are ubiquitous symbols of love at first sight. Overall, shades of purple indicate a message of total enchantment with the intended recipient.

Green Roses

Green is the color of life, so it’s no coincidence that green roses are a message of renewed life and bounty. They also symbolize peace.

Black and Blue Roses

Blue and black roses are elusive and hard to find. Thus, they’re intended for very special people who are also elusive and mysterious. However, sometimes black roses are used at funerals or to end a relationship.

Rainbow roses - A guide to choosing the right roses for any occasion

Rainbow Roses

Rainbow roses can include all the colors of the rainbow or a specific color combination. They’re typically just white roses that have been grown with special techniques and dyes that have changed the colors of their petals.

These are a fun way to give someone special a unique bouquet, such as a bouquet of rainbow roses for a child. Colors can also be combined to send an array of messages, such as pink and white for gratitude or orange and red for energizing love and passion.

The Number of Roses in a Bunch is Significant

Even the number of roses in a bunch can be meaningful:

  • A single rose is a kind gesture of appreciation (or if you’re a contestant on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, it’s a symbol for moving forward with your love interest!)
  • Two interlaced roses (typically a white one with a red one) indicate togetherness, such as in marriage
  • Six roses convey admiration for someone you hold dear
  • Eleven roses are meant to be given to someone you love deeply
  • Thirteen roses are ideal if you’re a secret admirer

There are hundreds of species of roses that have unique blooms for the savvy rose shopper. Within each general classification mentioned below, there are also colloquial names for each variety of rose, such as “Double Delight,” “Miss Congeniality” or “Angel Face.”

Rose Species

Hybrid tea rose - A guide to choosing the right roses for any occasion
Hybrid tea rose

Hybrid Tea Roses and Their Cousins

Hybrid tea roses are most likely the mental image that comes to mind when we think of a classic rose. These tend to have a long stem and a bloom that flares outward from a more tightly wrapped center.

Grandiflora roses are similar to hybrid tea roses, but they’re much taller. They have larger blooms and may even have multiple blooms within a flower head. Some have been known to reach heights of 6 feet!

Floribunda and polyantha roses are another variation of hybrid tea blooms; however, they’re a smaller variation.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses are fuller blooms that are known for bursting open wide with petals that are a bit rounder at the edges. They get their name from their “climbing” along trellises or walls as they grow. Sometimes, they can also be referred to as “rambling” roses or “ramblers,” if they tend to stay low and cover the ground.

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses are splayed wide and flat, and they’ve been given their name because they grow within sprawling shrubbery instead of climbing, covering the ground or growing in bushes.

English rose - A guide to choosing the right roses for any occasion
English rose

English Roses

English roses, sometimes also referred to as David Austin roses, almost resemble peonies in regard to how lush and round the blooms are. These are a type of shrub rose as well.

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses look much like hybrid tea roses, except that they’re very small and form very small shrubs. A small shrub of this type can often be purchased in a small pot from florists. Some miniature rose varieties are also capable of climbing trellises and walls.

Tree Roses

Lastly, tree roses are another important category to mention, although they aren’t truly a breed of rose. They’re created by grafting a rose onto a trunk and pruning it in a specific way to achieve the desired appearance. They make good container plants!

Which One Will You Choose?

Roses come in so many shapes, colors, sizes and smells. Like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two roses are identical. No matter what rose you choose, presenting a rose is a beautiful way to convey a thoughtful gesture!

The Florist Guide