Hundred-leaf rose, May rose, Cabbage rose, Painters’ rose, Provence rose, Rosa centifolia: plant, cultivate, multiply

Rosa centifolia is the old rose, historic even since it dates from at least 1600. It is the typical rose-cabbage, with incomparable old-fashioned charm, wonderfully fragrant. Centifolias roses are quite rare and many of their varieties have been lost.

Rosa centifolia ‘Parkzauber’


Scientific N. Rosa centifolia

Synonyms Rosa x centifolia

Origin horticultural

Flowering May

Flowers pink, white, purple

Typelandscaped rosebush


Foliage lapsed

Height120 cm to 150 cm

Plant and cultivate

Hardiness hardy, down to -18 ° C

Exposition sunny to partial shade

Solvery tolerant, except soils that are too calcareous

Acidity acidic to slightly basic

Humidity normal to a little dry

uselow hedge, ground cover, embankment, massive

Plantationautumn Spring

Multiplicationcuttings, layers, graft,

Rosa centifolia 'Parkzauber'

Rosa x centifolia represents a cultural group of roses with many common names: hundred-leaf rose, May rose, Cabbage rose, Painters ‘rose, Provence rose, Holland roses … It must be said that the painters’ rose is historical, she was already known since 17e century, where it was displayed on the paintings of Flemish painters, and no doubt it already existed before.

The rosiers Rosa x centifolia belong to the family Rosaceae and are complex hybrids. As they are very old, it is not clear from which species they were selected, it is only known that they are probably derived in part from the damask rose (Rosa x damascena).

The hundred-leaved rose reached its peak during the 19e century, where we find traces of more than a hundred varieties. But the interest in new repeat varieties and the disappearance of old gardens have taken their toll: today we only have about thirty, preciously preserved by passionate rose growers.

Description of the hundred-leaf rose

Rosa x centifolia is a rosebush 1.50 m to 1.80 m high with erect then drooping stems, which can be grown as a shrub rose large or trained like a semi-climbing rose. Its forms are quite flexible and rather thin at their end, carrying small spines. Its foliage is often healthy, more or less dense. The leaves are composed of 5/7 bluish green leaflets, bordered by a thin red border.

It is not not going up, the blooms between May and July (depending on the variety), either by solitary rose or by corymb of several roses.

The rose has a very large number of petaloid sepals, close together, surrounded by slightly longer petals; the latter draw an almost perfect circle around a large, very dense heart. The whole is very globular at the start of flowering, then widens into a plateau.

May roses are often pink, sometimes dark, sometimes pale. But there are some pure white shapes or almost violets.

This round rose faces our gaze from the top of its branches, as its stems bend slightly under their weight. They do not show the rigidity of modern roses, which lends them a form of romantic delicacy.

Example of varieties still existing and possibly in production of hundred-leaf roses

  • a simply named rose Rosa x centifolia, medium pink, is the leader, obtained in Holland.
  • mutations generated the Rosa x centifolia ‘Muscosa’ who are so-called ‘sparkling’ roses.

It is not the rose that is frothy, but the peduncle and the chalice which display numerous and fine green growths of a few millimeters: they bring an astonishing character to this already very distinctive rose. Ex Rosa x centifolia ‘Cristata’ or ‘Napoleon’s hat’, a variety which is extraordinarily frothy with bright pink flowers.

Some other varieties of old roses hundred-leaves have crossed the centuries:

  • Rosa x centifolia ‘Fantin Latour’, is tall with beautiful foliage. Vigorous, it forms large, very pale pink flowers.
  • Rosa x centifolia ‘Rose of Meaux’ is a miniature hundred-leaf: compact and with small, durable flowers, tender pink.
  • Rosa x centifolia ‘Burgundy rose’, 150 cm high and with dark pink almost red flowers.
  • Rosa x centifolia ‘variegated’, with large striped flowers.
  • Rosa x centifolia ‘Le Rire Niais’, with dark pink flowers that brighten over time
  • Rosa x centiflolia ‘Virgin of Clery’, the white hundred-leaf rose.
  • Rosa x centifolia ‘Tower of Malakoff’, is a large bush with dark pink flowers.

How to plant the hundred-leaf rose?

Having lived through a few centuries, the roses of Provence have demonstrated their robustness in cultivation.

They like it ordinary soil, fertile and fairly draining, not too chalky. They need a exposition sunny to partial shade, sensitive despite everything to the competition of neighboring plants which shade them.

The hundred-leaf roses are planted between November and March, preferably from bare root plant. Roots can be praline possibly (soaked and coated in a sticky earthy mud). The planting pit is 2 to 3 times wider than the stump, a well loosened ground, a little enriched with compost or manure is placed around the roots, compacted and watered immediately to drive out air pockets.

May roses in a pot will be planted in the same way, but untangling the motte as much root as possible between November and March, or just a few roots if it’s later in season. It will then have to be watered often during its first summer as soon as it is dry.

Maintenance and pruning of the centifolia rose

To keep its stems high, the hundred-leaved can be tutored. He will be fed each autumn a little compost or decomposed manure, placed on the ground.

Size is not essential: but a light pruning, just after its flowering or at the latest in July is possible to rebalance it or if you want to give it a very regular shape.

A more severe pruning of 1/3 of the stems may be beneficial if it is not afraid of competition.

The scent of the rose

The centifolia rose gives off a impressive fragrance, very pleasant, sweet, even honeyed which has long been indispensable for perfumers. It was grown en masse in Grasse, but there are only a few hectares left in cultivation today, because harvesting its fragrance requires rigor and it only blooms one month of the year.

Species and varieties of Rosa

150 species and thousands of cultivars

  • Rosa banksia, the rosebush of Banks
  • Rosa foetida, the foul rose
  • Giant rose, sometimes 30 m high
  • Hugh rose, with yellow flowers
  • Rosa moschata, the musk rose
  • Rough rose, spiky with thorns
  • Ruby rose, the red rose hips
  • Rosa wichuraiana, the Wichura rose
  • Rosa pimprinelifolia, the burnet rose
  • Rosa multiflora, the multiflora rose
Plants of the same genus

Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by

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