How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Reine des Violettes Roses

Are you ready to add an old-fashioned aesthetic to your garden? Do you love a plant that has history and beauty all wrapped up into one? Planting a ‘Reine des Violettes’ rose may just be the ticket to take your garden to the next heavenly-scented level! Join gardening expert Taylor Sievers as she chats all about these scrumptious old-fashioned roses.

Close-up of a flowering Reine des Violettes Rose bush in the garden. This classic rose variety is characterized by large, fully double blooms. The blossoms feature a rich, velvety texture and exhibit a stunning shade of purple, exuding a sense of royalty. The petals gracefully unfold, revealing a symmetrical form that adds to the rose's overall charm. The Reine des Violettes Rose is complemented by dark green, glossy foliage that serves as a lush backdrop to the regal blooms.

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If a plant can provide both beauty and serve as a talking point in my garden, I am all for adding it to my lineup! Old roses like ‘Reine des Violettes’ display beautiful, old-fashioned, blowsy flower shapes, and they’re varieties that have been around for a very long time (and prized by collectors!).

This rose is also appreciated for its unique color–a blend of mauve, violet, grape, and magenta. I want a piece of beautiful history in my garden. How about you? Let’s learn all about these special roses so you can grow one in your garden this season!

Overview

Close-up of a blooming rose 'Reine des Violettes' against a blurred background of green foliage. The flower showcases a lush, velvety texture with petals that gracefully unfurl to form a perfect, symmetrical rosette. The deep violet or purple hue of the petals is particularly captivating. Several immature buds surround the flower.
Plant Type Perennial shrub
Family Rosaceae
Genus Rosa
Species x hybrida
Native Area Northern hemisphere; France
Exposure Full sun to Partial shade
Height 4 to 8 ft tall x 3 to 6 ft wide
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests & Diseases Powdery mildew, black spot, leaf hopper, aphids, thrips, spider mites, scale, sawfly
Maintenance Medium to high
Soil Type Well-draining, rich loam
Hardiness Zone USDA Zones 4 to 9

What Is It?

Close-up of Rose in bloom in a garden. The foliage consists of dark green, glossy leaves with jagged edges. The large, fully double flowers boast a rich, velvety texture in a deep violet hue, exuding a regal charm. The petals gracefully unfurl to form a symmetrical rosette.
This is a praised heritage rose with large, violet-hued blooms and a delightful scent.

The old heritage rose first appeared in 1860 in France. Graham Stuart Thomas, a famous rosarian and author of The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book, describes this rose as “a large, graceful bush, as wide as it is high with smooth green leaves” and “well-covered” with blooms. 

The four to five-inch blooms open to throw shades of mauve, violet, and magenta, some eventually fading to “parma violet”– a color considered the deepest shade of violet. There has been a quest among rosarians to breed a blue rose (which is genetically impossible), but ‘Reine des Violettes’ may be one of the top contenders. Some have said it is “the bluest rose ever raised.” Others describe the bloom color as “out of this world.”

Of the over 40,000 named roses, you will be hard-pressed to find one that’s so highly praised as ‘Reine des Violettes’ (a.k.a. ‘Queen of the Violets’). Between the unique violet coloring and its delicious scent, this rose has long been a favorite in the garden and is certainly worth the fuss.

Characteristics

Close-up of a Rose flower against a blurred background of dark green foliage. The large, fully double blooms feature velvety, deep violet petals that gracefully unfold, forming an exquisite rosette.
A perennial hybrid perpetual rose, it has thornless branches and fragrant mauve blooms.

Just like other roses, ‘Reine des Violettes’ is a perennial shrub. It’s listed as a hybrid perpetual rose, although several rosarians argue it is more similar to a class of roses called Bourbons. 

Hybrid perpetuals are a class of old roses that arose in the 1820s. This class was mainly planted and hybridized from 1840 to 1890. They resulted from crosses between Bourbon, Portland, and Hybrid China roses. Hybrid perpetuals are known for their large, full, mostly fragrant blooms. 

The tall hybrid perpetual cultivars are usually “pegged” in the garden, meaning the arching branches are staked down to the ground or tied in loops around each other to produce a more shapely appearance and more blooms. 

It has slender, thornless branches (some may have a few thorns) with moderately sized flowers that lay flat when fully open and have a “quartered” appearance. The foliage is a smooth, gray-green.

Mauve to purple blooms repeat over the season and are highly fragrant. The blooms are considered “high-shouldered”, meaning the leaves are borne tightly under the bud, which sometimes causes the blooms to get lost amongst the foliage. 

Native Area

View of a blooming rose bush in the garden. The bush is covered with raindrops. The plant features sturdy stems adorned with dark green, glossy leaves that provide an elegant backdrop to the stunning blooms. The leaves exhibit a classic, serrated edge. The large, fully double flowers, in a deep violet or purple hue, are the centerpiece of this rose bush, showing a velvety texture and a symmetrical rosette form.
Rose varieties, with origins in China and the Middle East, can thrive globally.

Roses are native to only the northern hemisphere, but they can grow in many areas under many conditions, depending on the variety. The heritage of the rose is what will probably determine whether it can grow in your area.

Roses were domesticated several thousands of years ago, but we know roses were mainly native to areas of China, the Middle East (western Asia), and northern Africa and later spread from there through commerce and trade.

The ‘Reine des Violettes’ rose was bred and developed in France by breeder Millet-Mallet more than a century and a half ago.

Planting

Close-up of a gardener's hand in a frosted glove holding a young rose seedling in a sunny garden against a blurred background of a gray fence. The rose seedling has short, thin, upright stems covered with compound leaves of oval, glossy leaflets with jagged edges. The leaves are green with reddish tints on the edges.
Purchase small potted roses from specialty nurseries online.

You can purchase hard-to-find roses from specialty nurseries via mail order or online. Because these roses are considered “heirloom” or “heritage” roses, they are not typically available at big box stores or even local nurseries.

When purchasing this variety, you’ll likely be purchasing a small potted rose, typically in a quart or gallon pot. This rose was starting from a cutting around six months to a year or more before you purchased it. When I purchased my own ‘Reine des Violettes’ rose from a specialty rose nursery, it came in a one-quart pot as a tiny single stick with no leaves (mine arrived in early spring).

Transplanting

Close-up of a gardener planting a rose seedling in the soil near the garden. A deep hole is dug in the soil and a rose seedling is placed in it. The soil is loose, lumpy, dark brown in color. The rose stems are woody, thorny, and sturdy. Emerging from the stems are elegantly pinnate leaves, characterized by a serrated edge and a glossy, dark green hue.
Plant your rose in spring or fall, prepare a wide, deep hole, and water well after transplanting, considering container growth.

Transplanting is easy! More than likely, you’ll be planting your new rose in the spring or fall. These are the best times to plant perennials and shrubs in your garden. You can transplant during the summer, but beware–you will probably have to water your rose more if you transplant it during the high summer heat.

Many rose nurseries will ship plants prior to your last expected frost. Most roses are perfectly fine and can handle some frosts. If your plant is tiny, it may be wise to keep it in an unheated or cool, sheltered space (like a garage or basement) with access to light from a window or a grow light until you are closer to your last frost date in the spring.

Choose the location where you will plant your rose and dig a hole approximately 12 to 18 inches wide by 12 inches deep (the hole may need to be bigger if you’ve found yourself with a larger rose–lucky you!). 

Mix in any amendments thoroughly with the soil and backfill the soil so that when the new rose plant sits in the hole, the soil line around the rose is even with the topsoil soil line of the hole.

Begin backfilling your soil around your rose. Tamp the earth down firmly to remove any air pockets. Water well after planting. 

You may also choose to plant your rose in a container. Be aware that this shrub can become quite large, however. You may have to re-pot this rose over time into bigger pots as it grows.

How to Grow

Growing roses can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make it. Roses are warriors! There are countless stories of roses surviving in old cemeteries, neglected and often mowed to the ground every few years. These roses survive and even thrive on neglect.

Overall, ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses may require a bit more pampering compared to other rose varieties because of their heritage. As a hybrid perpetual rose, many of its ancestors were bred and developed under controlled environments of the greenhouse. These ancestors were bred for their blooms, no matter the cost.

Today, rose hybridizers breed for continuous blooms, disease resistance, and low maintenance. Since the “Queen of the Violets” wasn’t bred for all of these traits, reserve your best spot in the garden for this one (a.k.a. rich, loamy soil and afternoon shade—what a diva!). 

Light

Close-up of roses in bloom in a garden against a bright green foliage background. Each large, fully double flower showcases velvety petals in a deep violet and purple hue. The petals gracefully unfurl to form an exquisite rosette, exhibiting a rich and luxurious texture.
Plant in full sun to partial shade, thriving in morning sun and afternoon shade.

Most roses require full sun (six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day) in order to grow and bloom properly. There are always exceptions! ‘Reine des Violettes’ may be planted in full sun to partial shade.

It is one of the few roses that will actually thrive in a partial shade environment, particularly when it receives morning sun and afternoon shade. 

Water

Close-up of rose with water drops. The flower is large, fully double, exhibits velvety petals in deep violet, unfurling to form a perfect rosette with an opulent and luxurious texture.
Irrigate roses at least once a week at the base to avoid foliage wetness.

Roses are tough, but they will benefit from consistent watering or rainfall. During periods of drought or hot, dry conditions, it is best to water roses at least once a week. 

Water at the base of the plant in order to reduce wetness on the foliage, which can harbor disease. Always water in the morning so that any moisture on the leaves can dry with the sun during the day.

Anecdotally, roses will benefit from some water on the leaves now and then. It helps to cool the plant and wash off dust and debris, so don’t be afraid of rainfall or a light showering from your spray nozzle here and there.

Aim to give roses at least one gallon of water per week (unless you’ve received at least ¼ inch of rain). Roses will thrive with deep, infrequent watering. Aim for a few good watering sessions versus multiple small watering sessions.

It’s important to note that many roses will become semi-dormant during the high summer heat. If you live in an area that sees temperatures well above 85 degrees F (29 degrees Celsius) for any consistent period, you may notice your roses shut off growth. No worries! Do not overwater them. Maintain the same pattern of watering as normal.

Soil

Close-up of a young rose seedling in the soil in the garden. Emerging from the soil with slender, tender stems, the seedling showcases vibrant green leaves that unfold in a graceful and unfurling manner. The foliage is small and features a rich, healthy hue. The leaves are compound and consist of oval serrated leaflets.
Mix native soil with amendments, ensuring consistent watering and fertilizing for optimal blooms.

Roses prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 that is well-drained and high in organic matter.

However, roses are also highly adaptable, and if your soil is less than perfect, try adding some amendments.

Sandy Soil

If you have sandy soil, try adding some organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil. Sandy soils drain very well—sometimes too well. Adding organic matter will help. 

Sandy soils also have almost zero ability to hold onto nutrients. Organic matter is usually full of nutrients and will also readily adhere to other nutrient molecules so they aren’t leached through the soil.

Heavy Clay

Heavy clay soils can hold water really well! Almost too well. Adding organic matter will increase drainage and create larger pore spaces for water and air to pass through.

Loam

A loam soil is a good mix of sand, silt, and clay. It is usually the most ideal for growing many types of plants because it is fertile yet well-draining. Of course, a loam would be best for your roses, but don’t be dismayed. Many of us do not have this luxury in our backyards. Adding amendments like fertilizers and organic matter will help your soil immensely.

‘Reine des Violettes’ roses are known for being fussy when it comes to soil and nutrients. This is likely because many of its ancestors were hybridized in a greenhouse setting, where soil, nutrients, and water were highly controlled.

Pick an area of your garden with the richest soil to plant roses, and then make sure you are consistent with watering and fertilizer in order to see the most blooms.

It is important to note that you should not remove all of your native soil from the planting hole and replace it entirely with amendments like compost or peat. You need to thoroughly mix the native soil with the amendments. 

If you shelter your plant from its outside world, you may be in danger of your plant becoming root-bound. At the very least, the rose may struggle for a time when its roots grow large enough to reach the native soil beyond the planting hole.

Temperature and Humidity

Close-up of two blooming roses against a blurred garden background. The large, fully double blooms showcase velvety petals in a regal deep violet hue, forming symmetrical rosettes. The dark green, glossy leaves feature a classic serrated edge, providing an exquisite backdrop to the floral display.
Provide winter protection in Zones 4-5.

This rose is winter hardy to USDA Zones 4 to 9. It is one of the few shade-tolerant varieties of roses, which tells us it would prefer a cooler part of the garden in the summer, especially if you live in a warmer climate.

According to Liz Druitt, author of The Organic Rose Garden, hybrid perpetual roses like ‘Reine des Violettes’ grow better in cooler zones. With afternoon shade and mulching to promote a cool root zone, hybrid perpetuals can still be grown in warmer zones approaching USDA Zone 9 but will thrive in cooler zones. 

You may need to provide some winter protection (like extra mulching) if you live in Zones 4 and 5. Sometimes hybrid perpetuals struggle in these colder zones.

As with most roses, high temperatures of summer can cause the rose to go into a semi-dormant state. Make sure you are watering consistently and deadheading faded blooms to achieve maximum impact in the garden.

Fertilizing

Close-up of a gardener's hands in blue rubber gloves holding a handful of granular fertilizer next to a growing rose bush in the garden. The rose bush has vertical, thorny stems covered with compound green leaves. The leaves consist of oval leaflets with jagged edges and a glossy texture. Granular fertilizers are soft pink in color.
Adaptable roses thrive with occasional slow-release fertilizers and liquid nutrients in spring.

Roses have a bad rap for being needy, which is why many gardeners shy away from them. Roses are highly adaptable—you just may not see many blooms if you don’t give them a little extra boost now and then.

‘Reine des Violettes’ roses are no exception to this “extra boost” theory. They like to be pampered a bit more before they’ll show off for you in the garden.

The best fertilizer programs for roses usually include:

  • A slow-release fertilizer applied to the soil around the plant in early spring when the leaves begin to emerge
  • Consistent liquid or readily available fertilizer applications throughout the growing season
  • A late-season application of a readily available fertilizer
  • Stopping all fertilizer in late Summer to reduce excessive fall growth that may not overwinter

Slow-Release Fertilizers

Slow-release fertilizers can include anything from compost to well-rotted manures (cow, poultry, rabbit, etc.) or synthetic alternatives readily available at the garden center. Usually, these are labeled as 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 (or numbers similar) and come in a dry, granular form. 

Alfalfa pellets or alfalfa meal may also be used as your slow-release fertilizer.

Sprinkle or spread your slow-release fertilizer around the base of the plant in early spring when the leaves are beginning to unfold.

Liquid Fertilizers

Readily available liquid fertilizers are those that give the plant a small dose of nutrients in an easy-to-uptake form. Many growers opt for liquid fertilizers so they can spray directly onto the leaves or apply to the soil with water. Most of these are lower in concentration of nutrients, like seaweed or fish emulsion, compost teas, alfalfa tea, etc.

The key to maintenance fertilizers with readily available nutrients is to be consistent with the application. Some rosarians will argue you should fertilize every three weeks. Some say every six weeks. Others say fertilize after each bloom cycle. Some will say fertilizing based on blooming creates a high-maintenance plant. 

Regardless, pick a time frame between three to six weeks and stick to the schedule of fertilizing with a liquid or granular nutrient available fertilizer.

Give the plants a boost at the end of the season, usually between July to mid-August, with another fertilizer that’s higher in nutrient concentration but more readily available than your slow-release fertilizer. 

Some options may include blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, etc. There are fertilizers on the market with mixtures of both organic and inorganic sources. Usually, these are applied at the base of the plant and raked into the mulch.

When to Fertilize

Do not fertilize after mid-August. Sometimes, this cutoff date may be July if you have early first frosts in the fall. The reason for this is that fertilizers will often spur fresh growth.

If your plant churns out too much new growth and doesn’t have time to harden off before frost sets in, you may see a lot of winter dieback from your rose. 

Bottom line: Be consistent with the fertilization of your rose. Don’t over-apply—just fertilize on a schedule to produce a healthy, maintained rose.

Maintenance

Pruning

Close-up of a gardener's hands pruning the stems of a rose bush in a winter garden using red pruning shears. Rose bushes have upright, strong, leafless green stems with small prickly thorns.
For repeat-bloomers like ‘Reine des Violettes,’ prune during dormancy and deadhead after each bloom cycle.

Roses should be pruned differently according to how often they bloom and the class that they’re in. Roses that are once-bloomers should be pruned after flowering. Repeat-bloomers (like ‘Reine des Violettes’) should be pruned during the dormant season and then deadheaded after each bloom cycle (if you don’t want the rose to set hips in the fall). 

Because this is a hybrid perpetual, you will likely see some repeat blooming in flushes throughout the season. 

Some general guidelines to follow when pruning roses:

  • Remove any damaged or diseased wood.
  • Remove any weak or spindly growth.
  • Thin out the canes if there is too much growth towards the center of the plant where rubbing of the branches can occur. The friction can cause damage to the canes and, therefore, possible infection by diseases.
  • Do not prune heavily in the first few years of planting.
  • Always use a pair of sharp, clean pruners. (I like these Felco No. 2 pruners!). If you are pruning multiple shrubs, it is good practice to disinfect your snips in between shrubs to prevent the spreading of disease.
  • Prune during the later part of the dormant season to account for winter dieback that may occur. You don’t want to prune the plant too heavily at the beginning of winter and suffer more loss to cold damage later.

During the dormant season (winter), prune long, vigorous shoots back by one-third of their height. Small canes can be pruned back to three buds or pruned completely out if they are spindly. Ideal canes to leave are at least a pencil width thick. Clip out anything smaller completely, depending on the age of your rose.

After the first flush of buds has flowered, prune the short, twiggy growth. You will have the best blooms on your most vigorous canes after the first flush of blooms, according to rosarian Graham Stuart Thomas. 

Mulching

Protecting rose roots from freezing with sawdust. Close-up of several leafless and pruned rose bushes with mulched soil at the base of the plants in the garden. The mulch consists of sawdust, has a fine structure and is a light golden beige color. Rose bushes have vertical, trimmed, strong stems covered with small thorns.
Mulch is crucial for water conservation, cooling roots, suppressing weeds, and releasing nutrients.

Laying mulch is extremely important in the garden! Not only is mulch important for water conservation, but it will also cool the root zone during hot summer months, suppress weeds, and break down over time and release nutrients.

Apply a two to three-inch layer of mulch in the early spring and reapply as needed (although I typically only refresh my mulch once a year). 

If you are in an area that gets hit hard by winter freezes, consider mounding up some mulch around the base of your perennial shrubs to protect them, and then pull back that mulch in the spring when the plants begin to grow.

You can mulch with about anything—straw, hay, wood, pine needles, leaves, sawdust, compost, etc. There are benefits and drawbacks to each kind of mulching material.

For roses, I would recommend using a wood-based mulch if you have access to it. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but you don’t have as much effect on nutrient tie-up (like with sawdust) or pH imbalance (as with pine needles). It appears our friends across the pond in the U.K. mulch with compost because it’s more readily available for them.

Leaves, straw, and hay will break down much faster over time than wood mulches. Also, make sure you are sourcing hay or straw that has not been contaminated with herbicides. This can be a real problem in some gardens!

Training

Close-up of purple-pink climbing shrub rose. This bush climbs along a brick wall. The rose bush has climbing stems covered with lush green foliage. The leaves are compound pinnate and consist of oval, serrated leaflets. The plant produces lush, double flowers with frilly purple-pink petals.
To shape, use pegging for more blooms or train as a climber.

While you can certainly leave ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses alone and let them grow naturally, sometimes they’re not as mannerly in the landscape as we would like.

There are two popular methods for training:

  • Pegging
  • Training as a climber

Pegging is the process of letting the arching branches grow long, then pinning the ends of the branches down to the ground or circling them back and tying them onto other canes. Each branch is pegged down to create a sort of “spider” shape. 

The reason for pegging is that the bending will induce more bud break (meaning the buds will grow new shoots along the stem) and, therefore, more blooms. 

Pegging also keeps the plant from having a bunch of gangly stems flopping around back and forth.

You can also train ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses as climbers (usually up to 10 feet).

Climbers are trained as such:

  • Main canes are allowed to grow long.
  • Long canes are tied to a wall or trained horizontally.
  • The horizontal placement of the canes induces bud break along the branch, so smaller canes will ideally shoot out vertically with flowers.

The overall idea for both methods is to keep the branches in horizontal placement to induce bud break and, therefore, more blooms.

Deadheading

Close-up of female hands dead-heading a wilted rose flower using white secateurs in the garden on a blurred background. The rose bush has dark green leaves with a glossy, smooth texture. They are arranged alternately along the stems and are pinnately compound, featuring multiple leaflets on a single leaf stalk. The edges of the leaves are serrated. The flowers are medium-sized, lush, double, forming beautiful, organized rosettes of pink petals.
For continuous blooms, deadhead by cutting above a leaf with five leaflets using sharp snips.

To keep a continual supply of blooms throughout the season, you will need to deadhead your rose.

After the blooms have faded, let your eyes travel along the stem. When you see the first set of leaves with five leaflets down from the flower, you can cut off the stem and bloom right above this leaflet. 

A general rule of thumb for rose deadheading: The deeper you cut into the plant, the longer the new stems will regrow. You can cut as deep or as shallow as you’d like. Just make sure you are deadheading down to a leaf with five leaflets. Do not cut more than one-third of the bush back.

Always use sharp, clean snips when deadheading. You can stop deadheading in the fall as the excess cutting on the plant may induce new growth, which won’t become hardy in time for winter.

Propagation

Most roses are propagated via cuttings. If you plant a seed from a rose, the new baby rose plant will often look and act nothing like its mother because of its inherent genetic variability

The good news is that ‘Reine des Violettes’ is an “old rose”, meaning it was first created prior to the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. In fact, it was bred in 1860. 

Most plant patents expire around 20 years after their instigation. So, ‘Queen of the Violets’ is not only free to propagate via cuttings but is also often offered as a smaller, cheaper plant at specialty nurseries. 

Some roses are better at producing cuttings than others. You may have to experiment with taking cuttings from the rose at different stages to see what works best for you.

Cuttings

There is a lot of information on collecting rose cuttings out there. The two primary methods of rose propagation are semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings. 

Semi-hardwood Cuttings

Close-up of rose cuttings planted in plastic brown pots with soil indoors. These cuttings are vertical, strong, green stems with several pinnately compound leaves. These leaves are dark green, with a glossy texture and jagged edges.
Take semi-hardwood cuttings in June or July.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken during the growing season, typically after the recent growth has begun to harden. This is usually around June or July after flowering.

Ideally, you want to select a cane that is green and about a pencil width. Make sure it isn’t too flimsy but still has a slight bend if you are forceful. 

Take Cuttings

Using clean, sharp pruners, cut a section out of the cane that qualifies as semi-hardwood. Make sure you will at least be able to get a four to seven-inch cutting from the cane. Sometimes, you can get multiple cuttings from one branch, depending on the size and quality of the wood.

Clip off any softwood or faded blooms on the top of the stem. Count the buds along the stem (the buds are little swollen areas where the leaves and new shoots come out). Make sure that you have at least three to five buds

Pull off any leaves on the lower buds especially. You can choose to leave a small amount of leaf material at the top. Cut the leaves in half if you choose to do so to prevent your cutting from struggling to grow roots and maintain leaves at the same time. 

Root the Cuttings

Dip the bottom of your cutting in rooting hormone. It is unnecessary but may help. Some gardeners say to wound the stem at the bottom by scraping away the outer layer of tissue on the cutting. Others say to avoid that. 

Regardless, you want at least one to three of the buds of the cutting to be buried. This is important! These are the nodes where roots will form.

Place your cutting in a moist, loose, sterile potting mix in a small pot. Usually, this mixture contains peat, perlite, sand, or coconut coir. You may choose to plant multiple cuttings in the pot at first and transplant them later.

Firm the potting mix around the cutting. Place a plastic milk jug or soda bottle over the top of the pot to hold in moisture.

You should not have to water your cuttings if you are holding in moisture properly. However, sometimes you may need to mist them occasionally to add a bit of water.

Keep the cuttings in a warm area, but do not subject them to extremely high temperatures.

Hardwood Cuttings

Close-up of Hardwood Cuttings in large black plastic pots with a layer of mulch. These Hardwood Cuttings belong to the rose plant and are upright, sturdy stems that are green in color and have their thorns cut off.
Take hardwood cuttings in late fall or winter.

Hardwood cuttings are taken in the late fall or winter. These are taken from the current season’s growth, but they have hardened up in anticipation of winter. There may not even be any leaves left on the branch you take the cutting form, but you should still be able to see the dormant buds. 

Hardwood cuttings take a long time, but they may be a much simpler process for you. If you have a garden bed that’s protected in a tunnel or a pot you can shelter over the winter, you can try this process.

Select cuttings in the same way as above, but choose sections of the stem that do not bend. Make sure the cuttings are from the current season’s growth. Older wood that has turned completely brown or is very thick will not make a good cutting.

Stick the cuttings in rooting hormone and place them in your garden bed or pot. Let them sit for the winter, watering occasionally. Pay attention to the cuttings in the spring when the temperatures rise. You may need to water more as temperatures dry out the garden bed or pot. You should see some growth by late spring or early summer (hopefully!). 

Common Problems

The most common problems are few repeat blooms, powdery mildew, and black spot. Adequate and consistent fertilization and water can boost most of the repeat blooming qualities of this rose.

Pests

Pests that may affect your rose are aphids, thrips, scale, and spider mites. It’s important to note that a healthy plant is less likely to be affected by pests or diseases, so making sure your plant is watered and fertilized properly will make all the difference.

The same goes for leaf hoppers and sawflies. Both feed on rose leaves, causing mottling in the process. You can control both with a habitat of flowers that attract and host beneficial insects. This prevents any diseases they may bring to your rose bush.

Aphids

Close-up of young rose buds covered with a swarm of aphids in a sunny garden. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects of green color. These tiny insects have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae and two tubular structures, called cornicles.
To control aphids on roses, blast with water, encourage beneficial insects, and consider insecticidal soap.

Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects that feed mainly on succulent, new growth of roses. They like the high sugar content of new tissues, which is why you will mostly see them on emerging leaves and buds. They can reproduce rapidly and feed on plants using piercing, sucking mouthparts that easily spread viruses. The key problem with aphids on roses is that they can cause distortion of the new leaves and flowers.

To reduce aphid pressure in the spring, you can blast your rose with a forceful stream of water to knock off aphids. Do this until you notice a reduction in pressure. Encourage beneficial insects like parasitoid wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings in your garden by either releasing them or providing them with habitat (i.e., leaving some garden debris in the winter so insects can overwinter and lay eggs on this debris). 

You may also try applying an insecticidal soap for severe infestations, too.

Thrips

Close-up of Thrips. Thrips are minute, slender insects measuring around 1 to 2 millimeters in length, with elongated bodies that are fringed with fine hairs. This insect has distinctive, narrow wings that are fringed. It is of a light beige-yellowish hue.
Combat thrips by blasting with water, removing infected flowers, and encouraging beneficial insects.

Thrips are extremely tiny cigar-shaped insects that are very hard to see with the naked eye. You will likely see damage before you see the actual insects. Thrips leave unsightly trails on the petals of flowers and will often cause flower distortion because of their feeding. 

Blasting flowers with a forceful stream of water may help. You may also clip heavily infected flowers and remove them from the garden. 

Unfortunately, because thrips are so tiny, many less harmful sprays are not as effective at killing thrips because they can hide deep within the flower petals and sepals. Encouraging beneficial insects that feed on thrips and monitoring infestations will help. 

I’ve found that thrips are more highly prevalent in greenhouse situations, but my roses growing outside are not as affected. 

Spider Mites

Closeup of spider mites on rose leaves in sunlight. The leaves of the rose are compound, consisting of oval green leaflets with jagged edges. Spider mites are minuscule arachnids, measuring about 0.5 millimeters. They are reddish-brown in color and form a thin web on the leaves and stems of the plant.
Combat spider mites with a forceful water stream in the morning or insecticidal soaps.

Spider mites are likely to emerge in the hot, dry periods of summer. They are extremely tiny “mites” (i.e., similar to ticks with eight legs instead of an insect’s six). In severe infestations, you may see some bronzing of the leaves and web-like structures on the underside of leaves. 

Again, the best way to control spider mites as a home gardener is to knock them off with a forceful stream of water. This usually takes care of the problem. When using this method, make sure you are spraying water in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry in the sun early in the day. Sometimes water can spread disease, so reducing the time water is sitting on the leaf is important.

Mites infestations may also be treated through the use of insecticidal soaps.

Diseases

There are two major diseases that plague ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses. In fact, these diseases are ones that plague almost all roses: black spot and powdery mildew. Let’s learn more about these common rose diseases!

Black Spot

Close-up of a rose bush affected by Black Spot disease. Rose leaves afflicted with Black Spot (Diplocarpon rosae) are characterized by circular to irregular black or dark brown spots with fringed or irregular edges. The affected leaves develop a yellow halo around the lesions.
Prevent black spot in roses by ensuring good air circulation and removing infected leaves.

Black spot is caused by a fungus that infects roses. The spots appear just like its name–black spots that are 2 to 12 mm wide with feathery margins that develop on the upper (and sometimes lower) leaf surfaces. Leaf tissue surrounding the spot will eventually turn yellow and will continue to spread. The black spots enlarge slowly. Leaves will eventually turn fully yellow or brown and fall off.

Stems may be affected with black spot as well. The canes will have raised, purple-red, irregular blotches. Eventually, spots will become blackened and blistered. They are usually small and will not kill the branches, but these lesions may harbor the black spot fungi over the winter. 

Splashing water, either by rain or by people, spreads this disease. Infected, fallen leaves that are dispersed by wind may also spread the disease locally when water splashes onto the infected leaves and then onto the plant. That is why the removal of dead, diseased leaves is important. 

Development of black spot is optimal around 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), but the disease cannot withstand extreme cold or temperatures above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) for a prolonged period. The number one factor determining the spread of this disease is water, especially when the leaves are moist for 24 hours or more. 

To prevent and mitigate this disease, make sure your roses are well-spaced in the garden to provide good air circulation so the foliage dries quickly. 

  • Do not plant in an overly shady area where the sun can’t dry the leaves naturally.
  • Remove dead foliage at the base of the roses and prune out diseased canes.
  • Dispose of the canes by burning or burying them when you finish pruning.
  • Avoid overhead watering as much as possible to limit the time the leaves are exposed to moisture.

You may also use a systemic fungicide to help treat black spot, but this has to be applied preventatively (so before the disease develops). Always read the directions on the bottle before applying to your roses.

Powdery Mildew

Close-up of a rose plant affected by powdery mildew. Powdery mildew on rose shoots is characterized by the presence of a powdery, white to grayish fungal growth on the surface of the young, tender plant tissues. This fungal infection forms a distinctive powdery coating that resembles flour dusted on the shoots.
Control powdery mildew in roses by removing affected foliage and promoting good air circulation.

Powdery mildew is a common garden disease that is caused by a fungus. In roses, the symptoms may first appear as slightly raised, blister-like, red areas on the upper leaf surface, according to the Compendium of Rose Diseases and Pests, 2nd Edition. 

Usually, you will see white, powder-like growth that appears as patches on the leaves and eventually spreads across the leaf. 

The young leaves are usually the first to be infected. Affected leaves may fall prematurely. Stems may also be infected, usually around the base of the thorns, and flowers may be affected as well. 

Severe powdery mildew infestation ultimately affects the photosynthetic ability of the plant, and therefore, plant growth and vigor suffer. It also makes the rose lose aesthetic value in the garden.

Powdery mildew is most present when humidity is high at night. It likes drier conditions (i.e. less rainfall) but high humidity. 

Remove all diseased foliage from around the base of the plant and destroy it. Promote good air circulation around your roses by increasing the spacing between plants. 

When conditions are right for powdery mildew, some fungicides may be used, but most of the time, these must be used before symptoms show up.

For the most part, powdery mildew will not kill your rose—it is just unsightly to look at, and it can spread to other plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of the ‘Reine des Violettes’ rose?

The ‘Reine des Violettes’ rose was bred by the French rose hybridizer Millet-Mallet in 1860. It was a seedling of the rose ‘Pope Pius IX’, a pink rose with crimson shading, which was also a hybrid perpetual rose. Hybrid perpetual roses were popular during the Victorian era for their large blooms and fragrance.

What does ‘Reine des Violettes’ mean?

The rose’s name comes from a French phrase that means “Queen of the Violets”. The rose got its name because of its unique mauve-purple coloring. At the time of its arrival in 1860, there were few roses available with such unique purple coloring.

Can you plant ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses in shade?

It is one of the few roses said to be shade tolerant. Do not plant this rose in full shade because most flowering plants need a certain amount of sunlight to bloom properly. If you have an area in your garden that receives morning sun and afternoon shade, this rose may be a perfect candidate for that spot.

Final Thoughts

Are ‘Reine des Violettes’ roses worth all the fuss? You may be wondering this by the time you’ve come to the end of this long, in-depth article. My answer–yes! There is a reason why humans have continued cultivating this plant bred way back in 1860. She’s beautiful, she’s fragrant, she’s got an “out of this world” color! Bring some old-fashioned flare back into your garden today with this delightful, long-treasured rose. Just give her a bit more care, and you will be rewarded soon, my friends. Happy growing!

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