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How to Care For Damask Rose (Rosa  Damascena)

Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by Plant Mom Care

Damask Roses originated around Roman times. They are world-famous in the perfume industry and their fine fragrance makes them a fragrant and beautiful addition to gardens. This plant arrived in Europe from Damascus, hence the common name. 

This beautiful flower is called Lokelani in Hawaiian and is the official flower of the island of Maui. It’s a cross between Rosa moschata, Rosa Gallica, and Rosa fedtschenkoana and doesn’t grow in the wild. It can live for almost 50 years when it is well-maintained and cared for properly. 

There are two types of Damask plants, respectively called summer and autumn damasks – one blooming only in summer while the other blooms in summer as well as autumn.

how to care for damask rose

This plant is a shrub rose, usually well-known for its spreading growth habit. It can grow almost 7 feet high and 4 feet wide. The flowers grow loosely in clusters and the blooms are generally pink although some varieties have different shades of pink, red and white. 

The grayish-green leaves are pointed and elongated with downy undersides. This plant has a spreading habit so it can grow as a climber if provided with suitable vertical support.

The flower’s beauty has inspired innumerable poets and enchanted people for countless years. It is one of the oldest varieties of roses and has been selectively bred to create numerous other varieties of roses. 

Essential oils, perfumes, and rose water have been extracted from the petals for hundreds of years, a process that continues today. It takes around 4 – 5 tons of petals to extract 2 pounds of oil, making it one of the costliest essential oils. 


Damask Roses Light Requirements

This plant should ideally get 6 hours of daily sun, with partial shade in the afternoon and during hot summers. 


Damask Roses Watering

This is a hardy plant whose strong roots can gather plenty of water and nutrients from the soil. It usually depends on local weather conditions and doesn’t demand water. 

Outdoor roses generally need a once-weekly watering, reducing this to once in 10 days or so when the weather turns colder. Like most roses, the soil should become relatively dry before watering again.


Damask Roses Humidity

It prefers relative humidity levels between 20 – 76%, although it needs humidity levels to exceed 60% for flowering.


Damask Roses Temperature

This plant is suitable to grow in zones 4b to 9b as it is a hardy and cold-tolerant plant, but it thrives better in a mild and temperate climate.

While it can grow in hotter and colder climates, it will produce fewer flowers that will wither more rapidly than in temperate climates. It thrives under temperatures between 35 – 90°F. Flowering takes place in temperatures between 77 – 90°F.


Damask Roses Soil

It thrives best in fertile, well-draining, and slightly acidic soil.


Damask Roses Repotting

This plant has a moderate growth rate and can be repotted every year or when its size doubles in height and width, whatever comes first. Use a bigger pot, first adding a 1-inch layer of rough gravel in the pot to help water drain away faster. 

How often do Damask roses bloom

Now add potting soil to fill 2/3 of the pot. After planting, tamp down the soil to give the plant proper support. Water thoroughly afterward.

Damask Roses Propagation

There are several methods to propagate this plant. While the popular method is cuttings, it can be propagated by division or by layering.

Propagation From Cuttings

You can use hardwood or softwood cuttings, subject to the season. For example, you can use hardwood cuttings in spring, after the plant ends dormancy. Or you can use softwood cuttings in autumn. 

For hardwood cuttings, use older branches that are about 2 years old. Cuttings are best taken from the middle of the branches when temperatures start rising in spring. Each cutting should be around 6-inch long with 2 buds at least. 

Immediately after taking the cutting, cut the lower end with an oblique cut while the top should be flat to prevent water evaporation. Insert the cuttings around 2 – 3 inches deep in the soil.

You can use rooting hormone and cover the cuttings with a makeshift humidity tent (plastic bag) to improve your chances of success. Don’t try rooting cuttings in water since there is an increased risk of root rot.

Propagating by Division

Division involves more effort but also has a higher degree of success. Select a healthy plant with plenty of stems emerging from the ground and a history of producing abundant blooms.

Aim to divide the plant either in spring or late autumn. Before dividing it, thoroughly water the plant to loosen up the soil. Dig up the plant carefully and lift it out of the ground.

When dividing the root ball, make sure each section has stems and roots. Plant the sections at the same depth as the “mother” plant in the garden or individual containers and keep the soil moist.

Propagation by Layering

Select a healthy branch with both softwood shoots and hardwood. Mark a 2 – 3-inch section in between the two sections and peel the outer bark (epidermis) away to reveal the inner endodermis. 

Bury the peeled section in a container of soil or cover it with damp moss or coco peat and wrap it with plastic film to encourage new root growth. Once roots develop, you can cut the rooted section away from the mother and transplant it in a larger container or the garden.

Additional Care

There’s no need to fertilize potted plants if you repot them every year as they will get all the nutrients they need from fresh soil. Plants growing in gardens can benefit from a nutritional boost – adding organic compost is best, you can also use fertilizers specifically formulated for Damask roses – follow the instructions to prevent over-fertilization and root burn. 

This plant requires good pruning and deadheading to help improve air circulation and prevent diseases. Deadheading also encourages continuous flowering. Summer Damasks should only be pruned after flowering as they only produce flowers on old wood. 

Autumn damasks repeat their flowering season on new and old growth so they can be pruned whenever necessary. Aim to cut down side shoots by 1/3. This will improve the overall appearance of the plant and also encourages new foliar growth.

Damask Roses Common Problems

Some problems you might come across are pests like aphids, spider mites, whitefly, thrips, caterpillars, and fungal diseases like powdery mildew and root rot. Most of these problems can usually be prevented with proper plant maintenance and care. 

Good air circulation is important so prune and deadhead whenever necessary and remove any weeds growing near the plant. 

Where do Damask roses grow?

These plants, as their name indicates, were discovered by Europeans in Syria around the 13th century. They most likely originated from Central Asia and have been cultivated for centuries dating back longer than ancient Roman times.

Is damask rose rare?

While the plants are still commercially cultivated in the Middle East, parts of Asia, and Eastern Europe to produce oils and perfumes, very few are commonly available to the average gardener these days.

How old are Damask roses?

They were cultivated for many centuries to make essential oils and perfumes, dating back earlier than ancient Roman times. They can live as long as 50 years with good maintenance and proper care.

How many petals does a Damask Rose have?

Each can have over seventy fragrant petals.

What type of flower is a damask?

It is a rose developed by crossing R. Gallica, R. moschata and R. fedtschenkoana.

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