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The Mister Lincoln Rose

Other than the heart symbol, nothing expresses the sentiment, “I love you,” more than the iconic red rose.  And when it comes to matters of the heart, nothing but the best red rose will do.  Enter the Mister Lincoln rose.

Gardeners have been singing praises about the Mister Lincoln for over 50 years.  This easy-to-grow shrub has everything you could ask for in a rose – lovely blooms, gorgeous color, and fragrance.  It’s obvious why it’s the best of all red roses.

Unfamiliar with this variety?  Then keep reading to learn how to make a Mister Lincoln rose part of your garden this spring!

SIngle red rose bloom against a black background.

History of the Mister Lincoln Rose

Created in 1964 by Herbert Swim and Weeks Rose Growers, the Mister Lincoln is a cross of  ‘Chrysler Imperial’ and ‘Charles Mallerin.’  It was named in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.

The Mister Lincoln rose was introduced by Star Roses in 1965 and it won the All-American Rose Selections award that same year.

This rose was used to create two other varieties in 1983 – ‘Big Apple’ and ‘Dublin.’

Mister Lincoln also goes by the shortened name, ‘Mr. Lincoln’

A single Mister Lincoln rose bloom.

Characteristics of the Mister Lincoln Rose

The Mister Lincoln is a hyrid tea rose with a vigorous, upright growth of up to 6-8 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide.  It has dark green, matte foliage and produces dark red blooms on long stems.  It’s not a prolific bloomer, but the blooms are large, stunning, and fragrant.

The shrub is hardy and tolerates hot climates as well as areas with big swings in weather conditions.

Mister Lincoln roses.

What Is Significant About This Flower?

The Mister Lincoln is a drought-tolerant rose which makes it popular in California gardens, but gardeners in Florida also grow it with good results.  The long-lasting flowers don’t fade, even in hot climates.

This rose is susceptible to blackspot, but because it’s such a fast-growing shrub, simply remove the affected leaves.

When Does It Bloom?

A Mister Lincoln rose blooms continually from early summer to mid-fall (in some climates it blooms into December).

Bloom Description

Mister Lincoln roses start out as “urn-shaped buds” that open to form large, 4-6” double blooms with 25-40 velvety petals.  The color is a dark red/maroon that turns purple when exposed to lots of sunlight.  It has a (very) strong, melon fragrance.

Can You Grow a Mister Lincoln Rose At Home?

Mister Lincoln roses are available to the home grower market, which means you can grow this rose in your own garden.

Why Would You Want To Grow It At Home?

Most gardeners have to choose between roses that can be used for beautiful arrangements or that have the classic rose smell we love.  It’s rare to find roses with both features.

With a Mister Lincoln you don’t have to settle for one or the other because you get both from this rose.  It has a shape perfect for cut flowers and a sweet, heavy scent.

How To Grow a Mister Lincoln Rose

Mister Lincoln roses are described as nearly bullet-proof in online gardening forums.  They stand up to weather conditions other roses can’t survive.  This means even beginner gardeners can successfully grow a Mister Lincoln.

When To Plant It

Plant roses in the spring.

Where Should You Plant It?

Mister Lincolns grow in zones 5-10 (there are reports of it growing in zone 4 as well).

When planting outdoors, select a location that receives full sun.  In very hot, low-humidity climates, it needs at least partial shade in the afternoon.  You can put structures in place, such as arbors or trellises to create shade.

Because this rose grows quite tall, it’s recommended for the back of gardens or by itself where it can stand alone as a specimen planting. Make sure the location has good airflow to prevent blackspot and powdery mildew (or other diseases).

Even with its large size, this rose can be grown in large containers, but the containers require winter protection.


The ideal soil for a Mister Lincoln is medium-moisture, slightly acidic (5.6 – 6.5 pH), well-drained loam.  It still does well even in soil that doesn’t fall into the “perfect” category.

A single Mister Lincoln rose bloom.


After planting, give the rose one deep watering a week.  A drip irrigation or soaker hose makes watering roses easy. 

Mister Lincoln Rose Bush Care

For best results, use 4 tablespoons per 10 square feet of a 10-10-10 fertilizer at the time of planting.  Work the granules into the top layer of soil and water the area well.  Repeat monthly.

In October, switch to a  0-10-10  fertilizer for a final feeding.  You won’t fertilize again until spring.

Pruning the Mister Lincoln Rose

In the spring, prune to half height or 18-20 inches above the ground.  Remove old canes and dead wood. Cut back any canes that cross each other.  In warmer climates, cut the remaining canes.  This spring pruning prepares your rose for its best growth.

Once new growth starts, if you want to grow a tall Mister Lincoln shrub, prune away lateral growth to encourage the shrub to grow up, instead of out.

Throughout the blooming season, keep an eye on bud growth.  Mister Lincoln roses do best if there’s only one flower per stem.  If you see more than one flower bud forming at a cane end, remove the smaller buds, leaving only the largest one in place.

Using Mister Lincoln For Bouquets/Decor

It’s unclear if Mister Lincoln roses are widely used in the floral industry.  Google searches didn’t return any results for arrangements featuring these roses.

A bouquet of red roses.

Where To Buy Mister Lincoln Rose Shrubs

Fortunately, there’s an alternative to buying cut flower Mister Lincolns – grow your own!  You can buy shrubs from nurseries, garden centers, and various online retailers (like Nature Hills Nursery).

Where To Buy Mister Lincoln Rose Cut Flowers

Contact local florists to ask if they carry Mister Lincoln roses.  Farmers markets are another possibility for finding vendors who sell these roses.

If you find a source for fresh Mister Lincoln flowers, we’d love for you to share it in the comments section to help out other readers in your area!

Wrapping Up the Mr. Lincoln Rose

A single red hybrid tea rose bloom.

If you want a rose in your garden that holds the coveted “best of its class” title, you’ll get that with the best red rose, the Mister Lincoln.  Even during the first year in your garden, this rose will produce the enormous dark red blooms it’s known for.

Plant a Mister Lincoln rose where you can enjoy the intoxicating scent when you’re outside, or cut flowers for creating arrangements to perfume your home.

Is there a Mister Lincoln rose making a statement in your yard or garden? If so, tell us all about your experiences with this rose in the comments section below! To read about other roses, click here for our rose blog pos

Excited for more rose content? Then keep reading all about these beautiful flowers, how to take care of them, and more on our roses page!

M Waller

Friday 3rd of March 2023

15 year old Mr. Lincoln in southern California. East side of house. Morning and some south sun. Shade in afternoon. Well ventilated spot between driveway and ground cover. Admittedly, have not taken great care. Not fertilized and soil is not the best. It is slightly raised above adjacent grade. Prune every year. Never let it get too tall or it does not encroach on the driveway. Maybe 48" h x 24"w. Base of plant has gotten gnarled. This is first year that every leaf was removed. New growth is red with some dark mottling and very small white specs. Could be mites. Have read that new growth can be naturally red or due to frost damage. not remember red growth in prior years. Adjacent rose (do not know variety) has nice green new growth. Could spray it with water if it is pests...or look for chemicals. Any thoughts?


Monday 6th of March 2023

You mentioned that "This is first year that every leaf was removed." What removed all the leaves?

Red growth on roses is quite normal.


Friday 8th of July 2022

My Mr. Lincoln is 50 years old and not looking well. It was planted before I moved to the house. Its leaves have either insects or mold or something else. It is not in an ideal place - against a brick wall and does not get a lot of sun or rain. I have hesitated to move it. what can I do to pep it up and get rid of the bad foilage. The flowers this year are kind of small and not healthy looking.


Friday 8th of July 2022

Sounds like it needs a kick in the pants with a good pruning program.

Careful on the timing though; it's likely too hot to do much about it right now. Think of it as a longer-term project.