Fabulous Floribunda Roses
The Most Bountiful Roses in Our Gardens
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BIRTH OF THE FLORIBUNDA ROSE
The first floribunda roses were introduced in the early twentieth century. While breeding officially began by such hybridizers as Poulsen, Nicholas, and Kordes, it is believed that the very first floribunda was Peter Lambert's 1903 cross of a polyantha named Mignonette with a tea rose called Souvenir de Mme. Savlayrolles, which produced a variety called Schneekopf.
However, many rosarians feel that it was Eugene Boerner who developed the floribunda rose into what it is today. Boerner developed numerous floribundas during his 45-year career at Jackson & Perkins beginning in 1920, which lead to his becoming known as "Papa Floribunda." During that time he developed such floribundas as Vogue, Ivory Fashion, Apricot Nectar, and Gene Boerner (which was introduced posthumously). Gene Boerner hybridized more than 60 floribunda roses in his lifetime -- eleven were given the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) award.
J&P was the first commercial rose grower to use the term "floribunda" even though the American Rose Society initially found it to be unacceptable. ARS wanted to call this new breed of roses "large-flowered hybrid polyanthas," but J&P persisted.
More recent hybridizers of floribunda roses include Bill Christensen, William Warriner, Jack Harkness, Sam McGredy, and Wilhelm Kordes.
Floribundas literally have abundant flowers. Sprays (also known as an inflorescence or candelabra) give floribundas their unique personality. It's hard to beat Showbiz (medium red, Tantau), Sexy Rexy (medium pink, McGredy) or Europeana (dark red, deRuiter) for huge sprays of long-lasting blooms. Lavaglut (dark red, Kordes) has lots of small, frilly blooms in clusters. Floribundas are versatile for using as a really beautiful landscaping effect. Nicole, and the new Fabulous also produce abundant blooms. Dicky (orange pink, Dickson) can produce up to 36 sprays in one spring cycle, while it usually will only produce one-bloom-per-stem in the fall bloom cycle. Many floribundas can be used as a hedge or simply as accent specimens, such as Simplicity (medium pink, Warriner), or Iceberg (white, Kordes) which are favorites of landscapers.
OH, THAT SWEET PERFUME
Many floribunda roses have intense fragrance. Sunsprite (dark yellow, Kordes) is a vivid yellow with a strong, lemony fragrance. Sheila's Perfume (yellow blend) is strongly scented, and Shocking Blue (mauve, Kordes) is another floribunda with intense fragrance. The bright mauve blooms can be exhibited as one-bloom- per-stem. Another very fragrant floribunda is the single-petalled Escapade (mauve blend, Harkness). The blooms look so delicate, but oh what sweet perfume!
CLASSIC OR DECORATIVE FLORIBUNDAS
Some floribundas have classic exhibition form with perfectly spiraled centers, while others are more decorative. French Lace (white, Warriner), Kanegem (orange red, RVS), Summer Fashion (yellow blend, Warriner), Sheila's Perfume, and Pinnacle (red blend, Benardella) are examples of floribundas having exhibition form. These mostly produce individual blooms on long stems but can occasionally produce small sprays. On the other hand, Showbiz is a good example of a decorative-type floribunda. The medium-red blooms are produced in huge sprays, and this is how they exhibit best. Showbiz is a small, compact plant, so it can be used as a short, colorful hedge or placed in front of taller plants.
LOVE THOSE SINGLES
Playboy (red blend, Cocker) and Playgirl (medium pink, Moore) are decorative in form, and also they happen to be single-petalled roses since they have less than 12 petals. The stamens of a single-petalled rose should be very fresh, not dark, when exhibited, photographed, or cut for bouquets. Playgirl and Playboy appear frequently on the trophy table. They have a fast repeat cycle (around 28 days) and they always seem to be in continuous bloom.
STRIPES & OTHER DELIGHTS
There are a number of striped floribundas on the market today. Purple Tiger (mauve blend), Peppermint Twist (red blend), and Tiger Tail (orange blend) are examples of some striped floribundas currently available, which were all hybridized by Jack Christensen. Their flashy blooms are superb for the garden, and really make a great conversation piece. Bob Martin once entered a bouquet including all three of these striped floribundas in the Pacific Rose Society show which caught the attention of the judges and earned him a trophy.
Other good floribundas include Julia Child (medium yellow, Carruth), Trumpeter (orange red, McGredy), Sun Flare (medium yellow, Warriner), Cherish, (medium pink, Warriner), Pure Poetry (yellow blend, Zary), and Impatient (orange red, Warriner).
Floribundas are not eligible for Queen of Show, but most show schedules include several floribunda categories, such as One Bloom, Three Blooms, One Spray, Three Sprays, etc. I've seen gorgeous winning entries of Sexy Rexy sprays at recent rose shows. The pink ruffly blooms looked like giant cotton candy.
At the Pasadena Rose Society show a many years ago, we won the Challenge Award for the Pasadena Rose Bowl. This huge bouquet consisted of around 36 stems of Playboy and Playgirl all from just one bush of each. There were 3 to 7 florets on each stem The effect of this flashy pink, yellow, orange and red combination was unexpected and absolutely stunning!
Floribunda roses need plenty of feeding. They need extra nutrients to keep up with their abundant bloom production. So be sure to keep your floribunda roses on a regular feeding schedule. They will also appreciate a heavy layer of mulch.
Floribunda roses should be pruned somewhat lighter than you would prune your hybrid tea roses. Generally, this will produce more flowers, though not necessarily bigger sprays. Some floribunda roses are not fond of hard pruning (French Lace), while others take hard pruning very well (Playboy). Just be sure to clean out all dead wood and non-productive canes.
FLORIBUNDAS WORTH THE WAIT
Floribundas take a minimum of three years to reach maturity. After they establish a good root system, you will be rewarded with spectacular, showy sprays or blooms. You can grow them in the ground or in large pots. With proper care, regular feeding, and annual pruning, your floribundas will more than earn their space your garden.
© Copyright Kitty Belendez. All rights reserved.
This article was originally published in "Rose Ecstasy," bulletin of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.
Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez
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