Commemorative plant naming

It can be a fitting tribute to celebrate the life or work of a friend or relative to name a plant after them. Alternatively, there are a number of other ways to remember someone who loved gardening or gardens.

Commemorative plant naming
Commemorative plant naming

Quick facts

Suitable for A tribute to the life or work of a loved one or colleague


It is often neither quick nor easy to have a plant named after a relative or friend but there are several ways in which to remember a person through a plant;

  1. If you are interested in producing a commercial plant, give some thought to the name you would like, as breeders are interested in names which are catchy or descriptive and will help to sell the plants
  2. Plants may already be available with a suitable name – these can be searched for in the RHS Find a Plant
  3. As an alternative to a plant with a particular name, you could select a plant that your loved one especially liked, bears flowers in their favourite colour or perhaps has flowers at a poignant time of year
  4. It may be worth considering other ways of remembering someone special, for example planting or sponsoring a tree, or donating to a favourite garden

Naming roses

Depending on your budget and expectations there are two ways to approach naming a new rose:

Naming a rose that will become widely available:

It may be possible to get a commercial rose named in memory of a loved one by entering into an agreement with a breeder and paying them a fee. However, rose breeding is highly skilled and time-consuming; and the cost is likely to be in excess of £2000, and for very good ones more than £10000.

For further information see The British Association of Rose Breeders.

Naming a rose for private use:

Non-commercial roses for sharing with your friends and family can be obtained from several sources (see below). These roses will not be available in garden centres or nurseries and so unless propagated from cuttings there is always a risk that they will be lost to cultivation.

Although roses offered through this method may not have shown the promise to become commercial varieties, they will still be unique and can be attractive nonetheless. You might like to check that the name you have chosen will be accepted by the American Rose Society which maintains a list of all valid rose names. Expect the cost of such a rose to be between £50 and several hundred pounds.

There are a number of companies and organisations which advertise this service:

British Association of Rose Breeders
World of Roses
Country Garden Roses 
Rose Names 

Please note: The mention of any supplier or service does not constitute an endorsement by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Naming other plants

If you are interested in naming a plant from a particular genus, first check if there is a registrar, who oversees the naming of plants, for the genus of the plant that interests you. To do this, consult the register maintained by the International Society for Horticulture.

If there is a registrar, then contact them to enquire if they are able to refer you to any breeders who may offer this service. If they can help, the breeder is likely to make a charge for plant naming.

If you are interested in a particular plant without a registrar, it is more difficult to name a plant, but you could try approaching a nursery specialising in that plant to see if they could help.

Alternative ways to remember a loved one

Purchasing existing plants:

Many existing plants may include an appropriate word in their name and can be found using the RHS Find a Plant tool.

Failing this, there may be a plant with an appropriate name – ‘Remembrance’, for example – see our plants for special occasions profile.

Planting a tree:

Another lasting tribute could be the planting of a tree or shrub to celebrate someone’s life or work. Always give careful consideration to selecting a plant that would grow well in the situation (without becoming too large) and also be appropriate for that person.

If you don’t have room in your own garden then it may be possible to contact a favourite garden or park and arrange to sponsor a tree or planting. There are a number of organisations that can arrange a planting in memory of a loved one, including:

The National Forest
The Woodland Trust

Giving in memory

Many families choose to give an in-memory donation to the RHS. You can choose to donate towards a particular garden or towards the maintenance of the RHS flower collections or precious woodland and ornamental trees. All loved ones are acknowledged in one of the Books of Remembrance, held at each garden. For more details visit our website.

See also...

RHS Find a Plant

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.