15 Fascinating Facts About Rose Fragrance

This flower's powerful fragrance is one of the most costly scents in the world.
David Austin light pink rose 'Queen of Sweden' (Austiger)

David Austin light pink rose 'Queen of Sweden' (Austiger)

Rose fragrance is a complex, and costly, commodity.

Rose fragrance is a complex, and costly, commodity.

For all their eye-catching beauty, roses hide a few secrets in their lush blooms. Their fragrance can be mysterious, evocative, romantic and even surprising. No two rose-lovers experience their scent in quite the same way, a difference that’s due not only to our individual noses, but also to the genetic make-up and growing conditions of the roses themselves. Luckily, learning their secrets doesn’t detract from their allure in any way; it only makes them even more special.

Learn more about the secrets contained in a rose's scent:

  • Once a rose is fully open, the fragrance is different from the rose in bud. The chemicals that create the scent change as the buds unfold.
  • Warm, humid weather intensifies fragrance.
  • Rose perfume is at its most intense early in the morning. It’s thought that the scent dissipates as the blooms age.
  • Even roses of the same variety don’t smell exactly alike; scent isn’t always predictable. Rose breeder David Austin says, “We never quite know what we are going to get,” even though his company has been working with roses for 50 years.
  • Perfumer Robert Calkin, who retired from Yardley after a distinguished 40-year career in the industry, has worked with David Austin Roses for a long time, helping describe and evaluate the scents in new varieties. Calkin visits the rose trial fields to analyze plants that may one day be released for sale.
  • Everyone’s nose is different—or rather, everyone’s perception of scent is different. Some people have very little sense of smell—so it’s fine if you simply enjoy roses for their color and form.
  • Roses are traditional symbols of love and romance. Rose essential oil, also known as attar, is made from the Damask Rose (Rosa damascene) or the Cabbage Rose (Rosa centifolia).  Because the oil is so concentrated, it’s diluted before it’s used commercially.
  • A rose’s petals contain its perfume, although some stamens smell of musk or cloves.
  • The smell of roses is thought to be relaxing and restorative because it encourages us to breath deeply and slowly.
  • It takes at least 8 years for each David Austin English Rose seedling to win approval for its scent, so it can be offered for sale as a new variety.
  • Rose oil is among the most expensive of all oils. It’s made up of 300 active ingredients. Not all of them have been identified yet.
  • Rose oil, like fine wines, can be affected by many factors such as the soil the plants are grown in, the amount of rainfall they receive, and the altitude where they are raised.
  • It takes from 50 to 60,000 rose blooms—all of which are picked by hand—to make one ounce of the finest rose attar.
  • A rose’s perfume becomes stronger before a storm moves in.
  • You can learn about the scent of roses by comparing them to each other. Sniff one blossom and describe the fragrance; is it fruity, sweet, spicy or musky? Don’t experiment too long, or your nose will get fatigued. Try again later, or do as perfumers do, and take deep breaths through a piece of wool, or eat some dry bread, to refresh your olfactory sense.
Keep Reading

Next Up

Salvia clevelandii

Discover a California native that puts on a fragrant flower show.

Spicebush

Read on for tips on growing these starry-shaped flowers.

Chocolate Cosmos: Our Favorite Flowers

Love the smell of chocolate? Then you'll love these fragrant perennials.

Masterwort: Our Favorite Flowers

Scent up your garden with these fragrant flowers.

Frangipani

These colorful blossoms are often found in leis, those floral necklaces commonly associated with Hawaiian culture.

Facts About Roses

A dozen roses can be the language of love. Here, 12 fun facts about rose bouquets.

How to Plant and Care for Lilacs

Learn why the old-fashioned lilac is now popular among modern-day gardeners.

Fragrant Options for the Garden

Looking for something sweet? These fragrant plants will be a delightful addition to your garden.

Gardenia

Tips on why using the right soil is essential for gardenias to flourish.

Heliotrope: Our Favorite Flowers

This perennial offers a double-whammy of pretty flowers and a heady, vanilla scent.

On TV

Tiny Luxury

6:30am | 5:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Flea Market Flip

10:30am | 9:30c
11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Fixer Upper

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

Fixer Upper

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

12am | 11c

House Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Fixer Upper

2am | 1c

Fixer Upper

3am | 2c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.