Roses are members of the Rosaceae family, the largest and most economically important horticultural family in the world (Zlesak, 2006). Records indicate roses were cultivated as long as 5000 years ago (Guoliang, 2003; Widrlecher, 1981) in Europe and China. Gardeners grew them to meet practical needs such as for oils and medicine (Widrlecher, 1981), but the rose flower also is considered so beautiful that it has been regularly mentioned in poetry, religion, and represented in art and sculpture throughout the centuries (Cucciniello, 2008). In addition, roses are considered symbolic in many cultures, representing various ideas often based on their color (Hopler, 2017).
The domesticated rose is the world’s most popular garden and cut-flower, with thousands of cultivars available (Debener and Byrne, 2014). Roses are grown in greenhouses for the florist industry to produce both cut flowers and potted specimens (Pemberton et al., 2003; Short and Roberts, 1991). Garden, landscape, or shrub rose is a term used to describe those roses that are used outdoors in the landscape instead of as a potted flowering disposable plant or as a cut flower (Pemberton and Karlik, 2015). Garden roses exist in many forms and include hybrid teas, shrubs, and polyanthas, displaying a wide range of flower colors and forms and thus serve a multitude of landscape uses (Pemberton and Karlik, 2015).
Sales of roses in 2014 in the United States generated $203.5 million, producing 36.6 million plants by 1808 growers (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015). According to the Green Industry Research Consortium National Survey (Green Industry Research Consortium, 2013), roses contributed 3% of overall sales among 18 horticultural production crop categories of the $25.9 billion green industry value. Rose industry sales equate to contributions to the U.S. economy of about $777 million (Green Industry Research Consortium, 2013). Most roses (65%) are sold through retail outlets, with the remaining 35% of rose sales coming from landscape services (Green Industry Research Consortium, 2013).
Selection of rose types available to consumers is relatively limited, with big-box stores as well as retail garden centers selling mainly the most popular cultivars (Hutton, 2012). Often, when new rose cultivars have emerged, they were met with great demand (Hutton, 2012; Pemberton and Karlik, 2015). For example, ‘Knock Out’ and ‘Simplicity’ were especially well received among home gardeners and within the landscape industry (Pemberton and Karlik, 2015). However, growers sometimes find that a rose series may fall out of fashion after a few seasons and that it is a greater challenge to find a cultivar with staying power that can evolve over time to meet the needs of the consumer.
Historically, when breeding rose plants, information considered in creating new cultivars has been limited. For example, rose breeders traditionally bred plants based on what they personally have deemed appealing, or instead on variables growers have noted as vital toward the success in producing a vigorous crop (Debener and Byrne, 2014). That is not to say that some characteristics of the plants have not been noteworthy in their captivation to consumers. For instance, flower color was shown to impact consumer preference (Behe et al., 1999; Grygorczyk et al., 2014; Palma et al., 2011), and retail nurseries have used sales data to direct availability of plants with certain characteristics (Boumaza et al., 2010). Formal garden roses have less appeal compared with roses that integrate well into mixed planting beds (Hutton, 2012).
Rose producers have speculated that consumer demand is greatest for roses with high disease resistance and everblooming qualities. Other attributes mentioned as possible selling points for new cultivars of roses include a need for winterhardiness, fragrant blossoms, and new colors (Hutton, 2012). Related to this, research has suggested educating consumers regarding rose cultivars known to grow and perform well within their regions as important marketing tactics (Hutton, 2012). However, a formal study collecting information from consumers and growers as to their preferences for new rose cultivars has not been conducted.
The purpose of this study was to investigate growers’ and consumers’ opinions of roses available on the market and preferences for future roses coming into the market. The hope of the study was to determine future rose breeding endeavors to develop cultivars based on the needs of consumers and growers, thereby increasing rose use.
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