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Butterfly Rose Rosa chinensis

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Rosa bengalensis
  • Rosa chinensis var. semperflorens
  • Rosa indica
  • Rosa semperflorens
  • Rosa viridiflora
Phonetic Spelling
RO-zuh chi-NEN-sis
Description

China rose is one of the oldest cultivated roses, having been brought from China before 1894. It is a rounded, woody, deciduous shrub in the rose family (Rosaceae) and native to south and central China. The genus name Rosa is Latin for rose; the specific epithet indicates its origin. 

China rose enjoys full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained loam with a neutral pH; moderate watering; and good air circulation. A full-grown China rose can reach 6 to 8 feet in height and spread. When planting allow for one foot of space all around the mature plant to promote good air circulation and reduce the chances of foliar diseases. Do not irrigate from above, as this too can lead to foliar disease. Water at the base, and apply mulch generously to conserve moisture. Deadheading will promote further flushes of bloom. Prune China rose in the early spring. Look here for a guide to pruning shrub roses. Propagate China rose by grafting or stem cutting. 

Because of its mature size, China rose makes a good accent plant or can be used to provide height in a garden bed. Mass planted, it makes a good hedge, or it can cover slopes. The flowers attract honey bees and butterflies, and the hips are a food source for birds. Place it beside a patio or include it in a butterfly, cottage, cutting, English, or pollinator garden.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: China rose is susceptible to black spot, powdery mildew, rust, and rose rosette. It may be attacked by aphids, Japanese beetles, borers, scale insects, thrips, rose midges, leafhoppers, and spider mites. This plant is frequently damaged by deer. For full information on common pests and diseases, please see the Rosa page.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Semperflorens'
    Dwarf
'Semperflorens'
Tags:
#deciduous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#honey bees#slopes#accent plant#mass planting#high maintenance#deer browsing plant#prickly#purple stems#fruits fall#cutting garden#butterfly friendly#fruits mid-summer#bee friendly#fruits late summer#patio#fruits early summer#hedge#frequent insect problems#frequent disease problems
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Semperflorens'
    Dwarf
'Semperflorens'
Tags:
#deciduous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#honey bees#slopes#accent plant#mass planting#high maintenance#deer browsing plant#prickly#purple stems#fruits fall#cutting garden#butterfly friendly#fruits mid-summer#bee friendly#fruits late summer#patio#fruits early summer#hedge#frequent insect problems#frequent disease problems
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rosa
    Species:
    chinensis
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South-Central China
    Distribution:
    World wide in Temperate Zones
    Wildlife Value:
    China rose flowers are visited by honey bees. Birds eat the hips. These plants are frequently damaged by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Pome
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits of all roses are called hips and are considered a good source of vitamin C. The hips appear any time from June through November and, if the birds will let them, can survive the winter. The ovoid hips of China Rose are under one inch in diameter and red in color.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Wheel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers of China rose are under two inches in diameter but they are carried in groups of four or five so do have an impact. They are slightly fragrant. The single bloom has five petals. Sometimes the petals are semi-double or double. The colors range from white through pink to red or purple.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The compound leaves of China Rose are two to four and a half inches long and carried alternately. There are three to five one inch to two and a quarter inch by on half to one inch leaflets though sometimes seven leaflets are present. Young leaves are reddish purple changing to dark green on top and lighter green beneath. Both sides can be slightly hairy. They have slightly rounded bases with a pointy tip. The margins are serrated.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    The early growth of China Rose stems is a very attractive reddish purple. As the stem ages it turns from purple to green then brown. The stems are covered in prickles.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    English Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems
    Spines/Thorns