Roses are traditional additions to many gardens, and seem to be an easy choice for someone who's planting flowers. But the rose family incorporates a dizzying array of choices, in regard to bush or vine, size, color, tolerances and bloom appearance. Variegated roses offer another choice, as a mutation that occurs both in nature and through selective breeding.
Variegated roses are standard roses that display striped or mottled flowers. The blooms may incorporate different shades of the same color or a variety of different colors. This hybrid occurs both naturally and through selective breeding.
According to Old Garden Roses and Beyond, no one truly understands how this mutation originally took place. Possibilities include a natural change, roses seeking to return to their original color, and rose viruses. Roses are bred for variegation through cross-pollination in controlled environments.
Some standard and popular variegated rose varieties include Vick's Caprice, Lambelin, Rainbow, Rosa Mundi, York and Lancaster. Many Old Gallica roses are naturally striped as well.
Bush Versus Climbing
Since the term "variegated" refers only to bloom color and pattern, a variegated rose's form adheres to the same rules as that of a standard rose. Variegated roses may be bushes--shrubs that grow in a roughly vase shape up to 6 feet--or climbing--wood bases that grow clinging, reaching vines.
Variegated roses require six to eight hours of sun every day for full blooming, and do best in quick-draining areas with rich, loose soil. According to the University of Illinois, roses should receive two to four feedings a year and 2 inches of water a week.