Heirloom Roses: Zephirine Drouhin

Ilona Erwin

Roses that have perfume, re-bloom, and withstand winters are top of the list for good garden roses. This heirloom rose, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ has those qualities in spades. Flowers in clear cherry pink exude a raspberry scent.

History of Zephirine Drouhin

The Bourbon roses combine hardiness and repeat bloom, and are named for their origin on the Île Bourbon off the coast of Madagascar. Introduced in 1868, it has remained popular and is easy to source.

Characteristics of this Climbing Bourbon

Rosa Zephirine Douhin - Francia 1868The pink of the blooms is bright, but not strident. Whether you call it a hot or shocking pink, it both stands out and blends well. Friendly not only in color, but because of its trait of having almost no thorns. It is nice for an entry for that reason.

The long canes have medium green, fairly healthy foliage. The flowers are a loosely doubled form of about 20 petals and four inches in diameter.

  • Blooms: repeat, fragrant, in a very bright, attractive pink.
  • Without noticeable thorns, good for entries, play areas, etc.
  • Height: long canes are between 6 and 7 feet in my garden, up to 10′ to 20′. Width is 3 to 6 feet.
  • Soil: fertile, well drained, average moisture.
  • Light: roses love sun, but this one tolerates a bit of shade.
  • Hardiness: Zone 5-9
A Note

Old fashioned roses which repeat are sporadic after an initial burst in early spring. Unlike the modern hybrids, which have perpetual flowers during the summer months, this one is a gentle, occasional show after June’s usual rose season.

Combining with a polite, late blooming clematis would be ideal, if you need more color.

Hardiness of this Bourbon Rose

The Zephirine Drouhin has withstood horrible Ohio winters for the almost two decades I’ve grown it. I had planted her, and two sister shrub roses ‘Louise Odier’ and ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’. They disappeared during a particularly cruel winter, but she has survived unprotected all this time.

Perhaps not entirely unprotected: this rose is sheltered by an Alberta Spruce and a twiggy Princess Spirea. This is a Zone 5 garden; the hardiness range for this rose is 5 to 9.


Care of a Climber

Prune in late winter.

  • Any signs of cane borer and dieback are taken out. The canes can be pruned back by a third in late winter.
  • Deadhead spent blooms
  • Fertilize regularly during the growing season. Use one for blooming plants which has a mild 6-12-6 formula.

Organic feeding, recommended by the ARS:

  • 1 cup bone meal or superphosphate (0-20-0)
  • 1 cup cottonseed meal
  • 1/2 cup blood meal
  • 1/2 cup fish meal
  • 1/2 cup epsom salts (magnesium sulphate)

Summed Up

This is a rose I would always like in a garden. It gives perfume and delightful color on a relatively low maintenance plant (which is saying a lot for a rose). I like that it can be used closeup to areas of the yard where people walk by without threat of thorns.

Its hardiness means that Central Ohio gardeners can plant it without any more worry than to keep it out of the most exposed areas of the yard.

The bloom itself is a casual one which makes some of the best flower arrangements. I prefer this type to stiff and formal hybrid teas.

Sources for Roses:
heirloom rose
Zephirine Drouhin Climbing Rose
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.