It seems that the first-ever moss rose materialized in the form of a sport of a centifolia much before the mid-eighteenth century. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, this group of roses included just a small number of single-flowered forms, which enabled some hybridists to cross these roses with other hybrid forms from different rose groups with the aim to extend their flowering season.
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However, the hybridists soon discontinued this practice. The flowers of moss roses have a sweet fragrance and, on an average, the individual flower measures anything between 2 ½ inches and 3 ½ inches (6.4 cm and 8.9 cm) across, these make the moss roses distinctive as well as charming.
In addition to the uniqueness of the mossing, roses in this class possess several other practical advantages. In fact, the plants of moss roses are cool-hardy shrubs and when they are grown in encouraging conditions, they are able to thrive for decades.
Moreover, although similar to most other antique roses, the moss roses also bloom only once in a year, their blooms are potently scented.
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Introduced - 1855
Occasionally, people confuse the flowers of 'Alfred de Dalmas' with those of a similar rose known as 'Mousseline'. This moss rose variety bears very double, light pink hued blooms that are pleasantly fragrant. The color of the flowers fades to white when grown under the hot sun.
The flowers appear in clusters and the individual blooms measure about 1 inch to 2 inches in diameter. The plants of 'Alfred de Dalmas' rose are compact and sprawling growing up to a height of anything between 2 feet and 3 feet. The plants produce numerous thorns.
The flowers are showy, but do not appear in abundance. However, this moss rose variety repeats its blooms.
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Introduced - 1855
Similar to other roses in this class, the sepals of 'Celina' rose covering the buds have a mossy growth that emits a scent akin to that of fir. The buds of this rose unfurl to semi-double, large blooms having shades of pink, mauve, lavender, crimson and purple. When the flowers are fully open, they reveal the vivid golden stamens surrounded by the petals.
The canes of this variety of moss rose are packed with long and sturdy thorns. 'Celina' rose is best suited for growing in garden beds and borders as they grow up to a moderate height and have a tidy habit. This is an extremely hardy rose, but has a propensity to be affected by mildew later in the growing season.
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Introduced - 1696
'Common Moss' is generally considered to be the very first rose of its class and even to this day it remains to be among the best of moss roses. The buds of this rose are distinctive and attractive. They have an overgrowth of mossy glands from which these roses get their name.
When the buds are brushed they emit a pleasant fragrance similar to that of balsam. The flowers are fully open either towards the end of spring or beginning of summer. The fully open flowers have a clear pink hue and the individual blooms measure about 3 inches (7.5) cm wide with a button eye in their center.
The flowers of 'Common Moss' have a potent and rich fragrance, which reminds one of the scents of classic old-roses. “Common Moss' produces arching stems that with multiple thorns, while the foliage is dark green and is roughly jagged along the edges.
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Introduced - late 1600s
Many rose lovers consider 'Communis' (also known as 'Common Moss') to be the most excellent moss rose. Similar to several other roses in its class, this variety of moss rose produces mossy growths on its buds, sepals as well as stems. The buds have a rose pink hue and they unfurl to pale pink double flowers having an intense fragrance.
The petals of this rose are reflexed and encircle a green button eye. Each flower of 'Communis' rose measures about 2 inches to 3 inches in diameter. The plants of 'Communis' rose have a moderate growth with an arching habit. They are somewhat taller compared to their width. This rose is perfect for growing in garden beds and borders. It is resistant to diseases and, at the same time, hardy.
Introduced - 1826
'Crested Moss' (also known as 'Chapeau de Napoleon' and 'Cristata') produces exceptionally attractive buds that peep through an assortment of deeply fringed sepals having mossy edges. These buds unfurl to medium pink, double and cabbage-like flowers.
The flowers are fragrant and each bloom measures about 3 inches to 3 ½ inches wide. While the flowering period of 'Crested Moss' rose is lengthy, but they do not recur. The foliage of this moss rose variety is light green and copious.
'Crested Moss' has a well-built and upright form with arching canes. You may grow this rose in the form of a medium-sized shrub in a garden bed or border. Alternatively, you may also train the plants to grow against any support - a pillar or wall. This rose is not only resistant to disease, but also fairly hardy.
Introduced - 1873
'Deuil de Paul Fontaine' is vulnerable to powdery mildew and, hence, it cannot be called an ideal rose. Nevertheless, it possesses several virtues that actually prevail over its flaws. If you want to keep the foliage of this rose healthy, you ought to plant it in a warm and arid spot.
The flowers of 'Deuil de Paul Fontaine' are among the darkest as well as the most remarkable among all the moss roses. The petals of this rose have a velvety crimson purple hue on the upper side, while their undersides are paler.
The mossing on the buds as well as the base of the blooms is dark red hued. The flowers as well as the moss of this rose are both extremely fragrant - something different from the other roses in its class. Unlike many other moss roses, this rose reblooms twice in a year - once towards the end of summer and again in fall.
Introduced - 1852
The buds of 'Gloire des Mousseuses' rose are heavily mossed and they unfurl to clear, vivid pink, double flowers. The flowers have a deeper pink hue at their centers. The petals of 'Gloire des Mousseuses' rose are arranged on top of each other.
The flowers are borne in clusters only once in a year above the large, pale green leaves of the plants. Each flower of this rose measures about 4 inches across. The plants grow up to a height of anything between 3 feet and 4 feet.
Introduced - 1863
Occasionally, 'Henri Martin' rose is also known as 'Red Moss'. This variety of moss rose bears glossy, semi-double, crimson-red flowers, each measuring about 2 ½ inches across. The flowers appear in clusters of anything between three and eight and bloom only once in a year.
The flowers emit a rich fragrance and they last for a long period when used as cut flowers. The plants are arching, produce numerous thorns and grow up to a height of 5 feet to 6 feet. The leaves have a medium green color and are finely textured.
Introduced - 1854
'Salet' is considered to be the most unfailingly recurrent among all the moss roses. The flowers of this moss rose variety are a large flush of full-size, rose-pink, saucer-shaped and fragrant. They blossom either towards the end of spring or at the onset of summer.
Subsequently, the plants rebloom sporadically until the fall. The flowers of 'Salet' emit a potently sweet fragrance, which is typical of this class of roses. However, the mossing on the buds as well as the base of the blooms is light compared to other moss roses.
The foliage is coarse and has a vivid green color. The size of the plants of 'Salet' rose makes it ideal for growing in the form of a specimen shrub. Similar to all other roses in its class, this moss rose variety also possesses a special evocative charm that suits well with a cottage-garden planting. This rose looks completely comfortable when grown in any herb garden.