A Dozen Wonderful Yellow Roses

Do you ever notice when walking through a rose garden or nursery that there are more pink, red and white roses than any other colors? The majority of old roses fall into these color classes and have been used most often by hybridizers. There are very few naturally occurring yellow roses, and it is believed that all current yellow roses can trace their heritage to Rosa foetida – one that dates back to the 1500s. The yellow to orange coloring in roses appears to be a recessive trait that would disappear under the dominant influence of pink. In 1900, a French hybridizer introduced ‘Soleil d’Or’, a cross between a red hybrid perpetual and Rosa foetida persiana. This cross created a yellow rose that was able to survive interbreeding. Unfortunately, Rosa foetida (which by the way has a rather sickly-sweet odor) was very susceptible to black spot, and this trait has been carried forward to many modern yellow roses.

The good news is there are many wonderful yellow roses – hybrid teas, floribundas, shrubs and miniatures. Included below are a dozen roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or better and are classified as a light yellow, medium yellow or dark yellow color. I grow many of these and can attest to their overall great performance.

Name Type Color ARS Rating Year Introduced
R. banksiae lutea Species Light yellow 9.2 ~1824
Reve d’Or Noisette Medium yellow 9.2 1869
Golden Wings Shrub Light yellow 8.6 1956
Mermaid Hybrid Bracteata Light yellow 8.5 1918
Elina Hybrid Tea Light yellow 8.4 1984
My Sunshine Miniature Medium yellow 8.4 1986
Gold Medal Grandiflora Medium yellow 8.3 1982
Sunsprite Floribunda Deep yellow 8.3 1977
Graham Thomas Shrub Deep yellow 8.2 1983
Mrs Oakley Fisher Hybrid Tea Deep yellow 8.2 1921
Rise ‘n’ Shine Miniature Medium yellow 8.2 1977
Casino Large-Flowered Climber Light yellow 8.1 1963

By Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian
Photos from top:  ‘Elina’, ‘Graham Thomas’; all photos by author
Updated December 2019

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