Saturday, May 21, 2011

Roses of a Hundred Petals

Centifolia roses are roses of a hundred petals, or "cabbage" roses. Can you see why?

Justine Ramet (Vibert, 1845)
Centifolia blooms are very double, frequently showing a green pip in the center when fully open.

Gaspard Monge (Robert, 1854)
 They are usually very well scented...,

Fantin Latour (unknown origin, 1900)
...and range in color from white and blush to rose pink and purple.

Prolifera de Redouté (unknown origin, before 1759)
Centifolia roses are an old group of roses with mixed genes (including r. gallica, r. damascena and r. moschata), which gained prominence in the 15th century when the Dutch nurserymen began hybridizing tulips and roses.

Rosa Centifolia Major (unknown origin, 1597)
Flemish painters brought fame to centifolias by choosing them (along with tulips) as their favorite flower.

Jan Brueghel II. Flora. Image taken from Wikimedia
Centifolias are the only European roses I can think of that come in a dwarf form. The flowers of dwarf centifolias are tiny and the bushes grow only to a short stature, in proportion with the blooms.

Centifolia Minima (unknown origin, circa 1770)
Like gallicas and albas, centifolias bloom only once a year.

Centifolia Bullata (lettuce-leaved centifolia, sport of Gros Pompon)
They form fairly short and somewhat lax shrubs with canes often arching under the weight of the blooms.

Gaspard Monge
There are interesting hybrids between centifolias and gallicas. The Bishop is a wonderful and unusual rose which strongly reminds me of gallicas by its mix of magenta, purple and pink colors...

The Bishop (unknown origin)
The popularity of centifolias started to decline in the 18th century...,

Duc de Fitzjames (unknown origin)
 and these roses remain largely unknown today.

Le Rire Nias (unknown origin)
 I have seen only one modern centifolia (below), but what a spectacular one!

Parkjuwel (Kordes, 1950)
 Its blooms are always perfectly formed, rain or shine, and there are lots of them on a very well-behaved bush.

My next post will be on a particular mutation of a centifolia rose that gave rise to a whole new rose class. Any guesses?

P.S. All these pictures were taken at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden.


  1. Magnifique article masha, très instructif, comme d'habitude!! Fantin Latour est une des plus belles centifolias et je compte bien l'installer au jardin à l'automne prochain.. J'aime beaucoup le moderne, obtenu par Kordes!!Des roses pleines de charmes, avec des roses bien pleines, comme je les aime!! Bises

  2. I love these roses and wish I could grow them down here. The modern one by Kordes is really beautiful.

    Thanks for this wonderful series that you are doing.


  3. Oh, suspense! These one-time bloomers always steal the show. My neighborhood had many common once a year blooming shrub roses. They are all as old as the homes at around 100 years. Same with peonies too. But the neighbors removed many of these very old bushes to replace with grass. Sad.

  4. So pretty! They have so many petals, some of them almost look like peonies. Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for this post about Centifolia's. I have been in search of a white Centifolia i saw once at a Botanical Garden marked Ross Centifolia Caucasus. Do you know it? Would love to have one....

  6. Masha, Very nice post. Beautiful photos of even more beautiful flowers. Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons are as far back I go with the roses I grow but your post is very tempting. -Rev

  7. Merci, Sophie. I also love the full flowers and the wonderful fragrance. They are unique roses.

    Thank you, FlowerLady, I am glad you like them. European once-bloomers are so rarely grown today, I thought it would be fun to show some of them.

    Donna, thank you, and I am sorry those old roses are all gone. You are right, even though they only bloom once, they put so much effort into it that they look more spectacular than repeaters.

    Shannon, thank you, I haven't thought of peonies, but you are right - they do like them!

    Greggo, I am not sure what to say :). I am sorry you gave up...

    RR, I have not heard about such a rose. The only thing that comes to mind is a centifolia muscosa which would make it a moss of some kind...

    Thank you, Rev Roses. Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons are lovely roses too, perhaps I will do a post on them sometime...

  8. Great post about centifolias, Masha! It is sad that this beautiful group of roses is hardly grown nowadays anymore. I believe that the main reason for that is that they are only once blooming and with most people having very small gardens these days that just doesn't cut it. I wish that at least public parks would plant more of them.
    The new centifolia from Kordes 'Parkjuwel' is absolutely stunning! Thanks for featuring it. I hadn't seen it anywhere before.

  9. Masha, every time you post a photo I fall in love again! My heart belongs to roses.

    -- Penny

  10. I think its interesting and cool that you grow some of these old roses. I grow a lot of old roses too, (but more commonly available ones), for disease and southern heat and humidity issues, that many roses can't handle.

  11. Thank you, Christina, and I agree, once-blooming roses are not so popular anymore, but if gallicas are still grown for their mad colors, and albas for their purity and fragrance, centifolias are really and truly forgotten...

    Thank you, Penny, mine too.

    Jess, and you are right, old roses are much more suitable to hot humid climates than modern ones, you made the right choice! I am sorry to say I don't grow these, and thank you for reminding me to put a disclaimer in the post.

  12. Hmmm... "particular mutation of a centifolia rose that gave rise to a whole new rose class"? Could that possibly be moss roses?

  13. I didn't know about the Kordes centifolia. What a beautiful rose!

  14. Good guess, thibaud! You are very knowledgeable about roses.

    Thank you, Holley, I am glad I posted pictures of it.

  15. Another beauties! Thank you for the great post

  16. I just swoon every time you post about these wonderful roses. It would be worth moving across the country to California just for the Roses!

  17. Thank you, Klaraau01 and Jeannie! I am glad you liked the pictures.

  18. Hi Masha,
    This is a very interesting post with beautiful photos. It gives me a feeling of proud that such a beautiful rose comes from the Dutch (my Homeland). Combination of the rose with the tulip is still favourite in the Dutch.
    Have a nice sunday, lovely greetings, Elly

  19. Thank you, Elly, and yes, you have a lot to be proud of! I am glad you liked it.

  20. What gorgeous colors! I love full, lush, exuberant roses. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Hi Masha, the centifolias may not be repeat or continuous flowering, but my what a show they put on. I vote for you as blotanical Rose grower of the year.

  22. Thank you, Sandra, I am glad you liked them.

    Alistair, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.

  23. I cant have to many roses, my garden is to small, but I will try to found " Parkjuwel". Beautiful ! Thank you, Masha !!!

  24. Thank you, Dani, I am glad I found you a rose!

  25. Ale się nawąchałam, szkoda,że tylko w wyobraźni. Róże przepiękne. Ja wybrałam Fantin Latour i Parkjuwel jako najpięknięjsze. Pozdrawiam serdecznie

  26. Thank you, Giga. They are some of my favorites, too.

  27. I suspect your post may help to popularize centifolias again! They are gorgeous! Do you know why they fell out of favor? I think a lot of people turn their noses up at roses that don't re-bloom, but I bet a lot of those same people don't hold that against their favorite perennials.

  28. Deb, thank you. For some reason, they are not considered as interesting as albas or gallicas. Perhaps because the bushes are floppy and messy, perhaps because the bloom period is shorter, I am not quite sure.

  29. It's amazing that these roses are little known today, even if they are once bloomers. They are so beautiful and romantic-looking.


  30. Thank you, sweetbay, I agree with you completely.

  31. Hello Masha,

    Would it be possible that we use your picture of Prolifera de Redoute? Seeing this is an old garden rose it will only bloom in its second year and we don't have a chance to capture its beauty in its first year at our nursery. We would be using your image on

    I could not find an email to send this message to you and hope this form of communication is acceptable.

    With our warmest regards,


  32. Rachel, there is no way to contact you on Google+ or through Palatine Roses that I could find :). There should be an email address in "View my complete profile" in the About Me section below. Could you contact me through email please?


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