A rose may be a rose, but clothe it in green flowers and give it a peppery scent and it confuses the senses. Rosa chinensis var. viridiflora – nicknamed the green rose – is such an oddball that passersby don’t always notice when mine’s in full bloom.
Technically, its flowers aren’t flowers at all. Probably a greenhouse mutation from the 19th century, the green rose is made up entirely of sepals rather than petals. There are no stamens or pistils either, so the plant is sterile. The only way to propagate it is to take cuttings.
Viridiflora is neither big nor splashy, but despite its abnormalities, I’m rather partial to this green rose. It makes a spectacularly unusual and long-lasting cut flower and it doesn’t take up too much room in the garden, growing to a modest 1m high. It has bright green foliage with a hint of red in its younger leaves, and its pompom flowers are splashed with a reddy bronze as they mature. It’s compact size makes it ideal for pots too.
Rosa chinensis var. viridiflora was a favourite in New Zealand a few years back (many older gardeners still have it) but it’s not so freely available now. Try specialist rose nurseries, like Mutueka’s Tasman Bay Roses. Or contact Hamilton’s Wairere Nursery. Both nurseries do mailorder.
Photo by Jerry Gaiser – check out his awesome Flickr images here.