Scented rose or damask rose (Rosa x damascene) is grown in India for its pleasant, sweet smelling, large, pink to red flowers used for making rose water and Balia districts of Uttar Pradesh, besides smaller area is in Ajmer (Pushkar) and Udaipur districts in Rajasthan. It is a perennial, hardy shrub growing 2m long, with numerous stout hooked prickles intermixed with glandular bristles on its stem. Leaves are compound, imparipinnate having 5 to 7 leaflets, ovate oblong in shape with serrated margins. Flowers are borne in groups of 5 to 7 both in axillary and terminal corymb in varying shade of pink colour. The flowering is restricted to spring season for 3 to 4 weeks in a year. The aroma is due to essential oil secreted in papillae of epidermal cells (petals) and is given off as sooon as formed. Half open flowers have more fragrance. Other species R. centifolia (Cheti gulab) and R. borbonia (Edward rose) are also grown in small acreage mainly for making rose water and gulkand.
The cultivar, noorjehan, produces high yield of flowers (2 tones/ha) and is grown in Gangetic plains. Jawala is recommended for cultivation in subtropical regions in foothills. Another cultivar, Himroz, is suitable for temperate region (1,200 to 2,500m). it also produces higher flower yield. Recently rose cultivation is catching up in kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
Rose is grown in Gangetic plains over well-drained alluvial soils of 8 to 8.5 pH. However, the crop needs fertile, slightly acidic soils with high organic matter in temperate region with open sun for higher flower yield. A plantation is raised from simi-hard, woody stem-cuting (20 to 25cmlong), planted in nursery. It takes 3 months for initating rooting. Use of IBA (200ppm) over cut ends induces early rooting. A nursery area of 20m X5m is needed ot produces 10,000 rooted plants to plant a hectare crop, planted at 1mX1m spacing.
During October-December, 1m deep and 0.5m wide furrows are made in well-prepared fields. The soil is mixed with 2.5 to 3 tones/ha of farmyard manure and 20kg each of P and K is given at 3 to 5cm depth. Thereafter, rooted stems are planted in pits. A plantation needs 10 to 12 irrigations in a year and up to 200kg/ha of N is given in 2 equal splits during October and January,. Sometimes micronutrients are in short supply in the soil and a mixture of these nutrients (Available under different trade names) is given to the land which improves flowering, Pruning is done of 2 years old bushes in later part of December annually at a height of 50cm over the ground level. The bushes take 70 to 90 days after pruning to bear flowers.
Rose bushes commence blooming in march of the second year after planting but commercial yield is obtained from third year onwards and continues till 12 to 15 years. Flowers are hand-picked when they begin to open early morning hours before the sun rise. These should be distilled immediately but never later thean 24hr. where storage of flowers becomes necessary, sprinkle a weak common salt solution in water to check fermentation and evaporation of the oil.