Rosa helenae

It has slowly dawned on me…

I planted Rosa helenae about 10 yrs ago and haven’t given it any care since then. The majority of the other roses that I planted at the same time have long since expired. The most recent wave of expirations has been due to Rose Rosette Disease. Along with decimating the local multiflora roses, it’s been claiming quite a few others too. [as soon as I mention this, I’ll probably be shown otherwise] But so far, the Rosa helenae hasn’t shown any signs of RRD. It’s a large plant and if it were a multiflora, it probably would have been infected by now.

I guess I should get busy trying this species out in some hybridizations. Is anyone else working with this one?

Apparently not…

Louis Lens used it in later years. I don’t have any of his R. helenae hybrids, so can’t comment on it. He used R. helenae in combination with hybrid musks.


The resistance to RRD might be a function of airflow in your garden. There are places in mine where I simply can’t plant roses; the RRD vector mites drop there. There are other areas that because of the bulk of the roses I would have expected RRD by now, but the winds don’t slow there.

I don’t know helenae, but would like to. Are the leaves at all similar to R. bracteata, which (according to work at West Virginia U) the mite vectors would land on and leave, not recognizing the leaves as rose leaves.

Other musings:

helenae is infected but asymptomatic

helenae is not infected because the mites don’t find it suitable

helenae hardens up early, before the mites are airborne and even if they are there, their stylets don’t reach vascular tissues in the less differentiated parts of the rose.

First question: Can it be forcibly infected?

By grafting (usually done in spring).

Is there any chance there’s an ag school near you with an isolation area? There are tests we just don’t want to do in our own gardens.