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The Secret Rose

Doesn’t the word “secret” make you lean in and want to know more?  Then come closer so we can tell you all about the Secret Rose!  The name conjures up walls, fences, or hedges hiding garden spaces filled with all sorts of wondrous delights waiting to be discovered — like something from a certain beloved children’s book (you know the one).

Keep reading to learn the secrets of this rose.  Once you add a Secret Rose to your garden, we bet it won’t stay a secret for long!

Closeup of a hybrid tea rose bloom of cream edged with pale pink, similar to a Secret Rose.

History of the Secret Rose

The Secret Rose was created by Daniel Tracy as a cross between two hybrid tea roses, ‘Pristine’ x ‘Friendship.’  In 1994 it was introduced by the Conard-Pyle Co. in 1994.  That same year ‘Secret’ was named the All-American Rose Selection winner, the most-coveted award for any rose in the US.

‘Secret’ has been used to create the ‘Karen Ann,’ ‘Pope John Paul II,’ and ‘Secret’s Out’ roses.

As for the choice of the rose’s name?  Sadly, it remains a secret.

Characteristics of the Secret Rose

Secret is a medium-sized, bushy hybrid tea rose that grows 4-5′ tall and 2-3′ wide.  It’s easy to grow, a vigorous grower, and a prolific bloomer.  New growth foliage is a mahogany-red color that turns dark green — it provides a dramatic backdrop that the blooms pop against year-round.

A hybrid tea rose bloom with cream petals edged with pink.

What Is Significant About This Flower?

The Secret Rose is an incredibly fragrant flower with a sweet, spicy scent.  Blooms are usually one per stem and the stems have very few thorns.

When Does It Bloom?

Secret blooms in “flushes” from late spring into fall, depending on the zone.

Bloom Description

A Secret Rose is a medium-large, fully double flower.  It measures up to 5″ across and contains 30-35 petals.

The color is creamy-yellow with pink edges.  The patent describes the colors as “Naples Yellow” edged with “Venetian Pink” that turns to “Neyron Rose” when fully open.

Closeup of hybrid tea rose bloom, cream petals edged with light pink.

Can You Grow a Secret Rose At Home?

The Secret Rose is available to the home grower market.  So, yes, you can grow it and you should!

Why Would You Want To Grow It At Home?

Secret is an ideal rose for fragrance gardens, cutting gardens, and butterfly gardens.  It can be used for hedges, borders, beds, mass-plantings, stand-alone specimens, and container gardening.

Closeup of hybrid tea rose bloom of cream petals edged with pale pink.

How To Grow a Secret Rose

The following sections cover the basic information for planting and growing any new rose.

When To Plant It

Roses can be planted at two different times of the year.  To enjoy blossoms sooner, plant roses after the last frost in spring, before temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees.

To get your roses established before their first growing season, plant them in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first frost happens.  Fall planting gives the roots time to grow and establish themselves before the rose goes dormant.  You’ll have to wait until the following spring for your first blooms, but you’ll likely have more and better blooms than first-year spring-planted roses.

Woman removing rose shrub from a nursery container to plant in the garden.

Where Should You Plant It?

A Secret Rose grows in zones 5-10.  It’s heat tolerant, yet it also grows well in cool weather.

Growers in climates with severe winters (such as Wisconsin) have reported that Secret doesn’t catch up with other, hardier roses because of the damage from the cold temperatures.  If you live in an area with harsh winters, consider using the Minnesota tip method to provide winter protection for your Secret rose.

For best results plant in a location that receives full sun.  It’s shade-tolerant so a location with part-sun also works.

Plant Secret 36″ from other plants for air circulation and pruning access.

Person spreading soil amendments around newly planted rose shrub.

Soil

Secret grows in a wide range of soil types (chalk, clay, loam, sand) as well as acid, alkaline, and neutral soils.  Most important is that the soil is well-draining.

Watering

Secret Roses require average water amounts — about 1 gallon per week.  In hot, dry climates (or during droughts) spreading a layer of mulch around a rose retains moisture in the soil.  Even better is burying a soaker hose under the mulch around roses to deliver as much water to the roots as possible.

Person watering a newly planted rose shrub.

Secret Rose Bush Care

The best news about growing a Secret Rose is that it’s low-maintenance, needs only average rose care, is highly disease resistant.

Pruning a Secret Rose

After the first year, prune roses in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.  Remove dead or diseased canes, any canes that cross, and cut back 1/3 of growth (a little more in colder climates).  Spring pruning prepares rose for the upcoming growing season.

After each flush of blooms, cut spent blooms to encourage the next flush.

Prune lightly during the growing season to shape the shrub.

Person pruning rose shrub.

Using Secret Roses For Bouquets/Decor

Secret roses make beautiful bouquets, arrangements, and decorations with the added bonus of their lovely scent.  Hybrid tea roses work for all styles of arrangements — minimalist, “cottage,” and formal.

For the best practices for cutting flowers from a Secret rose shrub, refer to this video.

Bouquet of cream and white colored hybrid tea roses in a glass pitcher.

Where To Buy Secret Rose Shrubs

The Secret Rose is available from various online retailers.  You may also be able to find it in local nurseries or garden centers.

Where To Buy Secret Rose Cut Flowers

Speaking with Broadway Floral Home and Garden in Portland, OR, we learned that most hybrid teas as classified as “garden roses” rather than “cut flower roses.”  Garden roses aren’t ideal for commercial flower arrangements because of their fragrance and the blooms not lasting as long as roses developed for the floral industry.  When a specific flower is ordered for arrangements, it’s typically for large events such as weddings or banquets because of the quantity of flowers ordered from the supplier.

Contact a local florist to ask if they can order Secret Roses or find a similar rose for arrangements.

Wrapping Up the Secret Rose

Closeup of cream and white hybrid tea rose bloom.

Beautiful, fragrant, and easy to grow?  If there’s a “secret” here, it’s that the Secret Rose is a gardener’s dream and a rose that should be in every garden!  If winning the country’s highest rose award isn’t enough of an endorsement, the rave reviews of gardeners growing this rose should be.

Secret grows in a wide range of climates and soils conditions so chances are it will make a lovely addition to your garden.  Its medium size makes it an option for containers for patio, deck, or balcony spaces where it’s sure to be a focal feature.  Visitors to your garden will definitely ask what your secret is when it comes to this rose!

Do you grow Secret Roses in your garden? We’d love you to share your secrets about this fabulous rose in the comments section below! To read about other roses, click here for our rose blog posts.