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The White O’Hara Rose

If you think you’ve never seen white O’Hara roses, you may be wrong! If you’ve been to a wedding or other occasion where white roses featured, these beautiful roses may very well have been there too. With their large blooms, abundance of petals and wonderful fragrance, they’re a popular flower for professional and personal display.

A white O'Hara rose bloom.

The white O’Hara rose is a French rose, specifically cultivated for its attractiveness and deep fragrance. Its year-round availability for florists makes it a very popular flower for formal events.

What can be better than enjoying these beautiful roses as part of your bridal bouquet, table arrangements at a banquet, or as a romantic reminder decorating your home? Growing your own White O’Hara roses to enjoy in your garden and home year after year!

Keep reading to learn about one of the most iconic wedding roses and how to make a white O’Hara rose the belle of your garden space.

History of the White O’Hara Rose

The O’Hara rose is a French garden rose that was created by Georges Delbard to produce a rose that stands out from the others.

There are legends that white roses were the first roses on earth, so the white O’Hara rose, a memorable and unusually formed flower, has a mythical legacy behind it.

Meaning of the White Rose

Flowers are often said to have different symbolic meanings. White roses, such as the white O’Hara rose, are associated with innocence and purity, but also loyalty, compassion and sincerity.

Characteristics of the White O’Hara Rose

The white O’Hara rose is a popular rose, noted for its beauty and strong fragrance, which comes from the many petals with which the flowers are layered.

Closeup of a bouquet of white O'Hara roses.
White O’Hara roses.

The blooms of these roses are large and unusual with a heart that can be seen to be in quarters.

Although these particular roses are known as white roses, the blooms are not pure white. In the center they have a touch of blush, which is a very under-stated light pink-purple, with a red undertone. This gives them a hint of color, but still retains the overall appearance of a white rose.

Different Qualities of the White O’Hara Rose

White O’Hara roses can be grown in different conditions and locations. Interestingly, blooms of white O’Haras grown in different countries and at different elevations are not exactly the same in appearance. Even their scent may differ based on the climate they were grown in. 

O’Hara roses grown at a high altitude near the equator, where it is relatively hot and humid year-round, grow at a slower rate. The cut flowers also last longer in arrangements.

Shrubs grown at lower elevations and in climates where it’s not quite so humid grow more quickly and have thinner stems. The blooms have more blush than white and open quickly, although the cut flowers take longer to open in a vase.

When To Plant Your White O’Hara Rose

You can plant your O’Hara white rose bush virtually any time of year, because they are more resilient than many varieties of rose, although they do prefer warmer weather.

White garden roses in sunlight.

Caring For Your Roses

In general, roses are remarkably hardy plants and the O’Hara white rose is one of the most hardy.

Most roses will survive almost any weather if you provide proper winter protection. You can cover the leaves and blooms of the bush with burlap, or a similar material. Do not cover your rose with plastic! Doing so creates a humid environment in which fungal diseases may develop.

O’Hara white roses are dependable shrubs that flourish for most of the year. To keep them healthy, provide them the care they need throughout the year. This means watering them regularly, feeding them as necessary, and pruning at the right times.

Watering

When you water the rose bush, try to avoid overhead watering. For best results, thoroughly soak around the base of the shrub and water in the morning so any water that gets on the foliage has time to evaporate. If rose leaves become too moist and stay that way for a while, it invites fungal growth.

A white garden rose shrub.

Fertilizing Your O’Hara Rose

Fertilizing a rose bush is important to promote growth. The best way to feed your white O’Hara rose bush is to spread fertilizer on the soil around the plant. There are fertilizers and organic products that are formulated for feeding roses.

An all-purpose fertilizer will usually meet the needs for feeding your garden. These can be purchased at your local nursery or from online sites such as Eartheasy.com or Gardeners.com.

You will also find organic products such as Hungry Bin – Continuous Flow Worm Composter orOrganic Concentrated Compost – 18 lbs.

You can search for fertilizer for roses or choose an all-purpose fertilizer like Gardener’s Best® Flower Fertilizer.

There are various methods for fertilizing your roses.

Slow-Release Fertilizer

These types of fertilizer are created to release nutrients into the soil regularly over a period, such as months, for steady plant growth. There are even soil mixes available that already have nutrients mixed in. 

Granular Fertilizer

As the name suggests, granular fertilizer is in the form of small grains that are spread on the soil around plants. Most granular fertilizer is used for large areas, but some brands are suited for use in a home garden.

Liquid/Soluble Fertilizer

Some fertilizers come in liquid form, which means they are essentially a concentrate. They need to be mixed with water as per the instructions and poured directly onto the soil.

Soluble fertilizers can come in powder form and should be dissolved in water before being poured onto the soil around your rose bush.

Organic Fertilizers

If you would rather avoid the manufactured fertilizers, you can opt for organic fertilizers. There are various options made of microbes and other natural ingredients that feed the soil without changing the chemical balance.

Pruning the White O’Hara Rose

It may seem counterintuitive, but pruning is one of the best ways to encourage your rose to grow and to help it stay healthy.

Closeup of white garden roses starting to open.

Pruning allows you to remove any dead/diseased parts of the plant. It also keeps the plant from becoming too dense and allows air to flow more easily through it.

You also use pruning to train the bush into an attractive shape.

It is usually best to prune in late winter, before the new growth starts in spring. With your white O’Hara rose, you may need to vary the time of pruning, as the plant can flower throughout the year in warmer zones.

Easy Pruning Tips

Begin by removing all the dead flower heads. You may be able to do this with your fingers, but it’s safer for the plant if you use small pruning shears.

Cut any dead branches away from the plant.

Find the points at which the new shoots will grow on the smaller branches of the rose bush. Cut about an inch above the shoot, so that some stem remains.

Decorating With White O’Hara Roses

Because the white O’Hara rose is hardy and available year-round, it’s one of the staples of the cut flower industry. It can be used for a wide range of decorative purposes.

A bouquet of white O'Hara roses.

This is a visually appealing rose that’s particularly attractive in wedding bouquets and decorations. It has a long vase life – cutting the flowers at the right time allows them to open fully and keep their display for longer than most other roses.

If you think that white roses are too bland, then the slight blush of the O’Hara white roses will provide depth and mood that may be missing from pure white rose blooms.  They’re still relatively neutral in relation to their brighter colored cousins so they can be used as the foundation of a wide array of mixed arrangements.

White O’Hara roses are also beautiful on their own. When creating your own bouquet or arrangement, you can break up the solidity of the white by using greenery or a contrasting color rose.

Where to Buy O’Hara white Rose Bouquets

If you want an arrangement or bouquet of O’Hara roses, you have a few options:

  • Look for one at a florist/garden shop in your area.
  • Purchase the flowers and create a bouquet yourself. This could be as simple as arranging a dozen roses in a long vase, or integrating some foliage, or roses of a different color, between the O’Hara roses.
  • Order the floral arrangements online from a site such as proflowers.com or 1800flowers.com
A wedding bouquet including white O'Hara roses.

Where to Buy White O’Hara Rose Shrubs

If you want to grow your own white O’Hara rose bush, you can buy seeds so that the whole process will be yours – from germination to blooming. You might prefer to buy a small shrub or bare root rose, which means you’ll get to enjoy the gorgeous blooms sooner.

Seeds for roses are available from your local nursery or garden supply shop, or you could purchase them online, from a site such as seedsnow.com.

You can buy rose shrubs from your local garden store, or an online gardening retailer.

FAQs

Are all O’Hara roses white?

There are two colors of O’Hara roses: white and pink, although the white one has a tinge of blush in the center.

Why is the white O’Hara rose so popular?

The white O’Hara rose is available for most of the year, so it’s one of the flowers that florists can rely on. It’s beautiful on its own, but can also complement roses of any color in a beautiful display.

How do I make sure my O’Hara rose bush flourishes?

You need to water your rose bush regularly, but not let the ground become saturated. It’s also important to feed your plant with fertilizer and other nutrients. Make sure you prune your bush in late winter so it grows stronger when it begins to sprout in spring.

The Timeless and Elegant White O’Hara Rose

White O’Hara roses will be a standout feature in your garden. The hardiness of the shrub and its ability to thrive under different growing conditions means you’ll be able to grow and care for these roses relatively easily. The classic, elegant white blooms with a hint of blush and a lovely fragrance will make this rose one of your favorites you look forward to every year.

Closeup of a group of white O'Hara roses.

To learn about other roses to use in your garden design, read our roses blog posts.

Audrey McMurray

Wednesday 20th of July 2022

I can't find a White O'Hara rose bush to buy. Do you have a source that carries them?

Matt

Monday 25th of July 2022

Sorry I'm not sure; our main online nurseries don't have them right now.