Bourbon Roses

Bourbon Rose 'Louise Odier'
Bourbon Rose ‘Louise Odier’

It is a little strange to consider the Reunion Islands as important in rose history, however these islands were once called the Ile de Bourbon so this chance hybrid gets its name.

At best guess these roses are a cross between the Chinese roses and the Damask roses, all grown on the island. 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. 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 they are strong growing roses.


Madame isacc periere, a Bourbon Rose
Madame isacc periere, a Bourbon Rose

Bourbon roses are a repeat flowering rose, generally with large flowers, they are vigorous often with long canes. The strong fragrance is a wonderful quality.

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

Bourbon Rose 'Commandant Beaurepaire'
‘Commandant Beaurepaire’

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.

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