The Cabbage Rose, or Rosa Centifolia, is a commonly selected alternative to the typical wedding rose Floribunda, the “Iceberg Rose” as it is often termed. Also known as the Provence Rose and Rose de Mai, the Cabbage Rose holds Dutch origins being first grown in the seventeenth century. These shrubby, round roses are most often found in shades of pink, although white to dark red-purple Cabbage Roses are also less-commonly found. The name “Rosa Centifolia” means “the hundred petal rose” and this variety is marked by the distinctive, diverse and complex arrangements of petals found in the bloom of each cultivar, large or small.
Cultivars (Cultivated Varieties)
These historic roses are also known as Bullata Roses, or À Feuilles de Laitue. The petals are arranged in such a fashion that they closely resemble the form of a lettuce. Bright yet pastel pink radiates from the outside, growing darker towards the center. They grow to roughly 5 to 6-inches and have a full flower with a high petal count. These roses are quite hardy and persist without trouble throughout winter and cold weather.
The Crested Moss Rose, otherwise known as Cheapeau de Napoleon, or Rosa Centifolia Cristata, and blooms with a pure, deep and exceptionally pink color. The shrub grows to about five feet tall and is rather sparse on foliage, unlike most other common varieties of roses. The sepals have an uncanny resemblance to that of the parsley plant, making for a novel and attractive “moss-covered” stem. The fragrance however is one of the most distinctive scents found, carrying a bold, spicy, damask scent that lingers. You will find yourself smelling like roses every time you handle those of the Crested Moss variety.
Little Holland Roses, also known as Petite de Hollande and Pompon des Dames, are perfectly suited to the small garden. These medium to dark pink roses bloom in a clustered manner, two at a time. The shrub grows to a height of roughly 50-inches and takes up just under 40-inches of space in your garden bed. It is very compact and the bushy clusters of double blooms make for a beautiful arrangement. These miniature roses carry a sweet, strong scent and although the petal structure is scattered, the deep centered Petite de Hollande is a highly attractive cultivar of the Cabbage Rose.
Rosa de Meaux
The button shaped bloom of Rosa de Meaux can be found in shades of mid-intensity pink and less commonly, snow white. The shrub grows to approximately two foot high by two foot wide and the foliage is dense and abundant. Rosa de Meaux carries a subtle, sweet smell and the stem of this plant is rigid and firm. The roses bloom in pairs creating bursts of color set upon the deep greenery of the foliage of this rose, a truly novel and beautiful sight to behold.
The hardy White Provence Rose is also known as Unique Blance, Mutabilis, Vièrge de Cléry and Rosa Centifolia Alba, amongst its many names. This is one of the most popular Cabbage Rose cultivars, carrying many uniquely attractive characteristics. This rose has a very large, full double bloom that is found in pure white, near-white and blends of off-shades to white. The bloom has a silky texture and it is very bushy, carrying dark green foliage. The shrub grows to roughly five foot high and takes about four foot of space in your garden bed. Although the scent is very rose, carrying the distinctive damask scent to be expected, these roses are not very attractive to bees and other wildlife.
The Village Maid Rose is also known as Centifolia Variegata, Gallica, Unique Panchee and the Cottage Maid Rose. It is an arching shrub that grows to a height of 6-foot, taking up roughly 4-foot of space in your garden. The double blooms are striped, carrying a mix of creamy white striping the light, subtle pink and apple-blossom pink predominant coloring. Each of the cupped double blooms is roughly 2-inches in diameter and once blooming many elegant, large, cupped flowers bring color to the dark green matte formed by the foliage.
Cabbage Rose Characteristics
The Cabbage Rose is a deciduous, perennial shrub (it only flowers once) that blooms in Spring and Summer, with seeds ripening come Autumn. The flowers are hermaphrodites, the Rosa Centifolia plant carries both staminate (male) pollen producing flowers, as well as carpellate (female) ovule-producing flowers. Self-fertilized but pollinated by insects, Rosa Centifolia is a hardy shrub, with all cultivars resisting cold weather extremely well. Most are also extremely resistant to disease. Full, fragrant blooms are ever-present, with certain cultivars carrying spicy, musky undertones.
Growing Cabbage Roses
The Cabbage Rose grows optimally in rich soil that has a high composition of loam and Pete moss. Your soil must feature good drainage, leaving no chance of puddles forming around the roots. If good drainage is not facilitated your roses run the risk of developing a fungal infection that is near-impossible to get rid of. Clay soil is also a good growing medium. The soil should be fairly acidic, with P.H. levels measuring between 6 and 6.5.
Propagation from Seed
Cabbage Roses can take up to two years to germinate from seed, making them a project that you will only reap the reward of in roughly three years. One measure that can be employed to hasten this process is to scarify the seed, basically breaking down the seed wall to assist germination. There are many ways to do this but it is typically easiest to scratch the seeds lightly with a light file or sandpaper. The scratched seed wall will be thin enough to then plant into peat moss for two to three weeks at between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The soon to germinate seeds must then be placed in a cold area, keeping the temperature at no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for four month. Only then will your seeds typically germinate. Plants that are germinated indoors often suffer when subjected to the outdoors, battling under the change of environment and battering from the sun, wind, rain and organisms in the new area of planting. Although extra attention should be given to the transplanted plant, unless you are willing to wait out a duration of up to two years, then it would be best to use the controlled germination process given above. Seedlings should be transplanted when reaching a height of roughly 10-inches.
When planting outdoors try to ensure a spacing of 3.96-feet between seeds. This will ensure that you foliage will overlap, forming a dense, pleasing area of shrubbery. Sow your seeds at a depth of 0.25-inches for optimal growth.
Propagation from Cuttings
Cuttings can be taken as either soft-wood or hard-wood cuttings, but soft-wood cuttings root the easiest. Although they are more delicate and fragile by nature, you will be able to propagate from soft-wood cuttings the easiest. It is best to take a cutting about six weeks before your shrub begins to form leaves. Propagation from hard-wood cuttings in the fall is not impossible, it is just a longer and more difficult process. To take a cutting select any branch that you wish, and cut the end of the branch off. Each cutting should be roughly 5-inches long, be sure to take multiple cuttings to ensure success. The cut that you made to remove the cutting itself is enough to make the plant develop roots.
It is also possible to “scar” the plant to assist rooting, to do so simply scrape the bark or outer-located tissue off half of the base of the cutting, to a length of approximately ½-inch. If you chose to scar the base, then apply rooting compound or some honey there, otherwise just apply the honey or rooting compound to the cut that you made initially and place the cutting into your choice of growing medium. Peat moss works very well. Water your cuttings well and if possible protect with a cloche, and you will be rewarded with a rooted Cabbage Rose in roughly one year.
Planting Bare-Root Roses
When you receive a Cabbage Rose complete with its root it is best to soak the root for twenty-four hours in distilled water. Transplanting once soaked it best done early in the morning, just before sunrise, during a new or waxing moon. Be sure to plant in an area that has good drainage, full sun and if possible, mulch the base of your Cabbage Rose.
Cabbage Roses require full exposure to the sun, receiving a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day. Seedlings should not be directly exposed to the sun and should instead be protected by cloches. Cabbage Roses can be quite expansive and for this reason it is best to grow them supported by a trellis, assisting your control of the plant. The base of your roses should always be well mulched. Use a bark mulch or aged manure to bolster growth and absorb moisture.
All roses, especially Cabbage Roses, need to be pruned and shaped to facilitate the biggest blooms. It is best practice to leave one or two buds to a stem, this resulting in much larger blossoms. Dead or diseased stems should always be removed from the plant as they are noticed. Remove any stems that are growing towards the center of your rose bush. By shaping your rose bush towards an urn shape with an open center, you will ensure the best air circulation whilst making certain that new shoots to not get damaged by rubbing against others. All stems should be shortened to roughly half their original length, before the plant starts budding.
Plant parsley beneath your Cabbage Roses to ensure healthy, magnificent roses with big blooms. The root structure of the parsley plant helps for drainage in the soil, both parsley and roses require frequent watering, good nutrients and full sun.
Plant garlic nearby to your Cabbage Roses to protect your plant against disease and to deter attack by insects. Chives and onions planted nearby have the same effect, all of which prevent black spot arising.
Lavender and catnip are especially useful for keeping rabbits away from your garden and roses.
The root of the Cabbage Rose can be boiled and the water used as a mild astringent. The water resultant from boiling the roots is a very refreshing to the skin and can be used to treat mild abrasions and irritations, moisturizing and healing your skin.
The petals of the Cabbage Rose have a mild laxative effect and are often also brewed to a tea that is used to treat mild-constipation in infants.
As an essential oil the extract of the Cabbage Rose is extremely high in vitamin A, C and E. It is used primarily as a cleansing agent for exterior use on the skin.
Have you tried to grow Cabbage Roses? If so let us know how you did (Pics are always appreciated.) If not tell us what’s holding you back.