Bourbon Roses with their large flowers are naturally occurring hybrid originating from hedges or Reunion Island, formally known as the Isle of Bourbon.
Grown for the fragrance as well as the large double and ruffled flowers they range in colour from white through to reds and purples, some with striped flowers.
With a natural upright growth habit, they are tall growing and believed to be a cross between Old Blush China Roses and the Autumn Damask both grown on the island. They are repeat flowering and have attractive foliage. The seeds of these roses made their way to France in the early 1800s.
However Bourbons have a parallel history, with ‘Rose Edouard’ being grown in the Calcutta Botanic Gardens during the same period.
These are a cold hardy group of roses and quickly became popular in Europe.
Bourbon roses are a repeat flowering rose, generally with large flowers, they are vigorous often with long canes.
With a main flush of flowers in late spring, they will repeat with smaller displays in summer to early fall.
The large flowers are usually strongly perfumed and the fragrance is a wonderful quality.
How to Prune Bourbon Roses.
The best time to prune Bourbon Roses is during dormancy.
- Prune away any dead or damage wood.
- Remove any spindly or twiggy growth.
- Prune back any weak canes to the base of the plant to promote new growth.
- The remaining main canes can be pruned back by around 1/3
- Prune back any side shoots on the main canes to 2 – 3 nodes/eyes.
- Be aware that some varieties will flower better in later in the season and some better in spring.
- Some such as Zephirine Drouhin are treated as climbing roses so prune and train appropriately.
Some of the main features are :
- Repeat flowering
- Cold hardy, although some perform better in warmer areas.
- Large flowers
- Strong perfume
- Vigorous growers
Best Bourbon Roses
Some of the best Bourbon Roses include :
- ‘Gloire des Rosomanes’ – Very attractive dee velvet crimson flowers, however the history of this rose is a little clouded, maybe not strictly a Bourbon at all.
- ‘Commandant Beaurepaire’ – Fragrant, deep carmine and pink splashed flowers, a vigorous grower.
- ‘Mme Isaac Periere’ – Lovely magenta pink flowers with the best appearing in fall, very fragrant – Pictured Top.
- ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ – White to cream flowers blushed with pink, excellent in warmer zones and smaller growing than most Bourbons. Suited to containers.
- ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ – Pink – cerise flowers, a little smaller than some. Sweet fragrance and a vigorous plant. Often used as a climber.
- ‘Louise Odier’ – Pale pink silvery flowers have a real brightness to them, very fragrant, strongly cupped and a vigorous grower.
- ‘La Reine Victoria’ – Pink strongly cupped and very fragrant, also known as the ‘Shell Rose’.
- Kronprincessin Viktoria – A great white flowering Bourbon type rose.