Tyler preserves its long-held title, while producers introduce new varieties.
Roses are one of the most coveted flowers globally, and there’s only one Rose Capital of America: Tyler. The bloom enjoys a long history in the area and continues to have a major impact on the city’s economy.
A Blooming History
Tyler’s relationship with roses began a century ago. Tyler’s agricultural industry was originally devoted to peaches. When a peach blight struck the crop, farmers turned to growing roses. By the 1920s, the Tyler area was growing as many as 25 million roses.
“That’s why Tyler is called the Rose Capital of America,â€ says Certified Roses’ director of research and development, Justin Valdez.
Sadly, Tyler’s hot and humid summers along with diseases such as black spot and downy mildew took a toll, causing rose production to decline. By the 1980s, much of the propagation of roses moved to Arizona and California. Currently, 100,000 roses are grown in Tyler.
Economic Petal Power
Still, the link between Tyler and roses is indelibly written. The city’s Rose Festival season, which extends throughout October, has come into full bloom, bringing in $2.4 million in tourism to the local economy in 2016.
The pride of the season is the Texas Rose Festival, which was founded in 1933. Three years later, the festival’s name was changed to commemorate the Texas Centennial.
The 86th Texas Rose Festival, set for Oct. 17-19, will focus on the theme “Portraits of Inspiration.â€ One highlight will be the coronation of Hanna Claire Waits as the 2019 Texas Rose Festival Queen. In addition, the schedule includes the 67th Palette of Roses Art Show and Sale, two Texas Rose Festival Luncheons, the Texas Rose Festival Parade, the Rose Festival Arts and Crafts Fair, the Art Garden Party, the Kiepersol Vine Day and the Texas Rose Festival Queen’s Tea.
Sweet Smell of Success
Tyler’s roots in the rose industry also run deep as companies strive to make the beloved flowers accessible to gardeners of all levels. Certified Roses, Inc., founded in 1949, is one of the leading producers and wholesalers. The company prides itself in offering a wide selection of western-grown roses, including hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, climbers and hardy shrub roses.
Certified Roses offers approximately 170 varieties of roses and sells approximately 3.6 million packaged and container roses annually from mid-November through the end of June. Their customers – which include independent garden centers, midsize hardware stores, mass merchandisers as well as individuals – are located across the United States, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Company leaders strive to remain on the cutting edge of the industry, including considering which roses will perform well in different regions of the country. Company officials reached out to global rose breeders about six years ago.
“We told them that we wanted to bring new, exciting and innovative roses that perform really well in the landscape and are easy care, but also are big-flowered and have some fragrance to them,â€ Valdez says.
Those meetings led to the identification of 22 new rose varieties that have done well in Certified Roses’ rigorous three-year evaluation process. The company will be introducing those roses in two brands which are launching in 2019.
One brand, “My Bouquet,â€ offers hybrid roses with big tea blooms that perform well in the landscape and can be cut for displays. Another brand, “The Painter’s Collection,â€ includes striped roses that change color as the bloom ages. Additional rose varieties are planned for release until 2021.
Roses, whether a traditional rose that would be seen in a grandmother’s garden or a newer striped variety, are a valuable and beloved addition to every garden.
“The rose brings happiness. The first gift you think of giving is roses,â€ Valdez says. “The roses we’re coming out with are easy care and they allow you to go out in your own garden and cut fresh flowers that are full of fragrance to give to someone.â€