Mardi Gras Rose: History, Characteristics & Cultivation

The Mardi Gras Rose is a floribunda rose cultivar, bred by Dr. Keith Zary in 2007 and introduced into the United States by Jackson & Perkins in 2008. It was named an All-America Rose Selections winner in 2008. This rose is an upright shrub that can grow up to 4 feet in height. The blooms are medium-sized, with a high-centered bloom form, and they come in shades of pink and yellow.

The name “Mardi Gras” itself is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans is a tradition that dates back to the early 18th century when French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville landed near present-day New Orleans in 1699. They held a small celebration and named their landing spot “Pointe du Mardi Gras.” Over the years, Mardi Gras evolved into a city-wide celebration with parades, masked balls, and the iconic throwing of beads and doubloons from floats.

The Mardi Gras Rose is a popular choice among gardeners due to its unique color combination and continuous blooming habit. Its petals, which transition from yellow to orange to pink, provide a dynamic display that changes with the seasons, much like the ever-evolving celebrations of Mardi Gras. The rose also has a medium musk fragrance and large, semi-glossy, dark green, leathery foliage. 

Characteristics of Mardi Gras Rose

  • Size and Growth Habit: It is a medium-sized shrub with an upright spreading growth habit. It reaches 3-4 feet in height at maturity. It can be used for borders, hedges and containers.
  • Growth Rate: It is considered a vigorous grower. Once established, it puts on good growth throughout the season.
  • Flower: The flowers are borne in dazzling clusters of apricot-orange to red buds and blended bright pink, orange, and yellow blooms. The 4-inch double blooms have 20 petals and a light spicy fragrance.
  • Bloom Time: It flowers heavily in continuous waves over a long season, from late spring to late fall.
  • Fragrance: It’s described as a mild to strong scent with a mix of musk and sweetness.
  • Lifespan: It can be expected to live for approximately 30 years under ideal conditions.
  • USDA Zone: It thrives in a good range of climates, performing well in USDA zones 5 through 9. This means it can be grown successfully in many areas across the United States.
  • Hardiness: It can withstand a range of environmental conditions, including heat and moderate cold. In colder zones, some winter protection may be necessary to ensure the plant’s longevity and health.

Cultivation Tips

  • Planting: Plant the rose in a hole twice as wide and equally as deep as the depth of the container. Carefully remove the rose from its nursery pot, gently spread out its roots, and place in the hole, leaving the graft (the bulge right under the greener top growth) at the level of the soil surface. If planting bare root roses, soak the bare roots in a bucket of water to re-hydrate them before planting.
  • Sunlight and Soil: This thrives in full sun, so ensure it receives ample sunlight. Plant it in well-draining soil enriched with organic matter to promote healthy growth. Maintain consistent moisture in the soil, especially during the growing season.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced rose fertilizer in spring and early summer to support blooming.
  • Pruning: Prune in late winter or early spring to maintain shape and encourage new growth while removing any dead or diseased branches.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.