Bourbon Rose

A Bourbon Rose is an excellent choice to combine a longer blooming season with old-fashioned richness and perfume


This beautiful old rose variety was introduced to France in the early 19th century. The flower originates from the island of Reunion, the former Ile de Bourbon, in the Indian Ocean. They are crosses between Rosa Damascena and Chinas.

The flower was very popular in France for crossing and re-crossing, and with little competition in those years, many varieties were spread in several gardens worldwide.

Many of them are still available, including ‘Louise Odier’, ‘Souvenier de la Malmaison’ and the thornless ‘Zephirine Drouhin’.

Facts About Bourbon Roses

Most of the Bourbons make large shrubs with deep green foliage and thorns. Like their China ancestors they re-bloom.

Anyway, most of their blooms appear in late spring and early summer and continue to flower sporadically through the summer into the fall.

Bourbon’s are also:

  • Very winter hardy
  • Grow up to 6 feet
  • Climbers grow up to 12 feet
  • Make a perfect globe of petals

The coloring ranges from dark red to perfect pink to light blush and pure white. They usually spread an intense old rose perfume.

How To Prune Bourbon Roses

Some Rosarians recommend that Bourbon roses should be left alone and only cut out dead wood, but in my opinion, pruning stimulates the formation of new canes, where new blooms can flourish as the season advances. Bourbons flower on new wood.

Prune back 1/3 of the canes in early spring or early winter, as you would do with other shrub roses.

Remove all dead wood and thin out the shrub to get a good air circulation. Cut side shoots to three eyes.

Deadheading is also recommended in summer when the blooms vanish, to encourage repeat flowering.

For correct pruning check out the pruning guide. For climbing Bourbon roses like the ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, the pruning rules for climbers can be your guide.

Make Your Bourbon Rose Choice

Although the Bourbons have been superseded by English Roses, it is still worth to grow several of these beautiful flowers.

I have chosen some of the most popular and most beautiful Bourbons below.

Zephirine Drouhin

Zephirine Drouhin Rose

A beautiful Bourbon climber which is greatly valued for its virtually thornless stems and long flowering season. This flower is shade tolerant and perfect for gardens which do not get that much sun, although they do better with lots of sun.

They are perfect for training on arbors and arches and easy to handle because of their nearly thornless stems. 

The vigorous flower grows up to 8-12 feet and has deep pink 3” blooms with matte light-green foliage.

They have an excellent rating of 8 from the American Rose Society (Best rating will be 10).

Blairii Number Two

Blairii Number Two Rose

A Bourbon rose raised in 1845.

Untrained it will grow into an arching shrub, but its vigor makes it suitable for growing on a pyramid or against a wall, and it is often catalogued as a climber.

They have dark pink blooms in the middle of the flower, fading to pale pink at the edges.

The sweetly scented flowers are produced mainly in mid-summer.

On a wall, it grows up to 15 feet and a width of 8 feet.

Louise Odier

The fully double and coup shaped blooms have bright rose pink flowers and are softly shaded with a hint of lilac.

They show their blooms in midseason and repeat flowering until fall.

The blooms have a delicious rich scent, grow in clusters and their 3-4” flowers weigh down the branches showing an arching effect.

They grow up to a height of 5 feet and spread to a width of 4 feet.


‘Boule de Neige’ or ‘Globe White Hip’

Boule de Neige Rose

The fully double white flowers are 2.5” in diameter and spread a moderate damask rose  fragrance.

The blooms look like snowballs with a light green shading and appear in small clusters.

They have a glossy green foliage and are repeat flowering from summer well into fall.

The vigorous shrubs produce long arching canes and grow up to a height of 5 feet and a width of 3 feet.


Madame Isaac Periere

Madame Isaac Periere

Possibly one of the most fragrant roses, they show magenta colored double blooms from 3-6’ in diameter, depending on the climate. These plants are tough and hardy.

The large bush with massive growth shows semi-glossy foliage in a dark green color.

They grow up to a height of 5 feet and a width of 4 feet. They also can be trained as climbers up to 12 feet. 

The flowers are perfect for cuttings.


› Bourbon Rose

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