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Heirloom Roses: Zephirine Drouhin

Updated on January 18, 2017
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.


Looking for a climbing rose that has all the beauty and hardiness of an heirloom rose and blooms all summer? Then Zephirine Drouhin is for you!


Introduced in 1868, Zephirine Drouhin is a Bourbon rose. Bourbon roses are crosses between Damask roses which bloom once a year in the spring and China roses which bloom all summer. It was a hit right from the start and remains one of the most popular climbing roses in Europe today.


Zepherine Drouhin is an incredibly versatile rose. It can be grown as a climber attaining a height of 15' to 20' high, or it can be pruned and grown as a shrub rose. Grow it on walls, trellises, arbors, fences or even around pillars. Prune it to 6' and grow it as a specimen plant or massed into a hedge.

It grows best in full sun but can tolerate some shade. It is hardy from zone 5 through 9. In zone 5, it should have winter protection.

Grown in normal to poor soil, it likes to be well-watered. Water in the mornings at the roots. Avoid watering from overhead which can encourage disease.

The flowers are dark pink with up to 20 petals and are 4 inches across. They appear in May like other heirloom roses, but then continue until frost. Remove flowers that are past their prime to encourage new blooms. Their fragrance is very strong and has been described as resembling raspberries.

The foliage is purple when young, darkening to green as it ages. The stems which are nearly thornless are also purple and can create winter interest in your garden after it sheds its leaves. The fact that it is nearly thornless makes it an excellent rose to grow if there are children in your family.

New plants can be grown from cuttings taken either in the spring or fall.


Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. Prune away any dead canes. Then prune the upright canes by 1/3, any side canes by 1/3 to ½. Rejuvenation pruning can be done by removing ¼ of the oldest canes each year for four years.

In the fall, dead leaves, branches and other brush should be removed from under your bush to prevent the spread of insects and disease.

© 2014 Caren White


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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      I do have a beautiful pink rose growing up the wall near the front entrance, not sure what kind it is except to say that it is single pink and old fashioned, nothing like a modern rose at all. I love it because it flowers so prolifically.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      The nice thing about climbing roses is that they don't need a lot of space. They can be trained up a trellis or a wall. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      OldRoses - I would never have the space for one of these but I guess I can admire them from afar.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      My favorites are the heirloom roses with their wonderful flowers and fragrances. Since they are so hardy, they are also easier to grow and maintain than the fussier hybrid tea roses. Thanks for reading and commenting, bac2basics!

    • bac2basics profile image


      4 years ago from Spain

      I was going mad for one of these climbers when I lived in the UK. I never did get one, but probably will when I eventually move back. I do love Roses, especially the more informal fuller flowered types.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Thanks, Flourish! They are very popular in Europe.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      These are beautiful. I think I saw these at Giverny climbing a trellis.

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      I agree, tobusiness! I've always wanted to grow this rose but never had the space.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Simply gorgeous!!


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