How to Grow and Care for Rosa Chinensis

Rosa chinensis in bloom

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Known for its red, pink, and white blooms, Rosa chinensis is a very popular rose to keep in gardens. The single or semi-double blooms give off a lovely, light, sweet fragrance and add a touch of elegance to your yard. These roses, like most other rose varieties, have prickles, or thorns along the length of their stems. The leaves are dark green, glossy, and pinnate. Rosa chinensis bloom from spring until fall, making them a beautiful statement plant throughout the entire growing season.

Common Name China Rose
Botanical Name Rosa chinensis
Family Rosaceae
Plant Type Perennial, Rose
Mature Size 6-8 ft. tall, 6-8 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, sandy, moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Spring, summer, fall
Flower Color Red, pink, white
Hardiness Zones 6-9, USA
Native Area Asia

Rosa Chinensis Care

Rosa chinensis can be cultivated in a wide number of regions if given the right growing conditions. They require plenty of sunshine, regular soil moisture, and good airflow. With a little care, these roses reward the gardener with frequent and abundant blooms. 

Deer are known to eat the foliage and blooms of this type of rose bush, so it is important to protect the plant. Aphids, spider mites, powdery mildew, and black spot may also cause damage. Overly humid or wet conditions can result in fungal diseases.  


Rosa chinensis plants thrive in full sun but can tolerate filtered shade. For the best growing results and bloom, choose a location with at least 6 hours of sunlight.


These roses prefer loamy, sandy, well-draining soil that stays consistently moist. However, they are tolerant of many garden soil conditions and can be grown even in heavy soils, as long as water drains away. They do not tolerate soggy, wet soil. Neutral pH levels of 6.0 to 6.9 are ideal, although this rose variety can also be grown in soil that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. 


Water regularly but avoid over-saturating the soil. It's best not to allow the soil to dry out completely. Check the first few inches of the soil to gauge its moisture level. If the first few inches begin to feel dry, it is time to water this rose.

How often you need to water depends on your location, rainfall, and the time of year. Rosa chinensis needs more frequent watering while in bloom. 

Temperature and Humidity

This hardy rose variety can be grown in zones 6 to 9, and is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. Temperatures dipping below 40 or reaching above 90 degrees Fahrenheit will cause this rose to go dormant. As for humidity, it does well in moderate humidity levels. If humidity is too high, the flower petals may stick together. High humidity levels can also lead to moisture-related diseases.  


For a good start, add compost or fertilizer to well-worked soil before planting to give the rose all the nutrients it needs. Fertilize established roses monthly during the growing season. Use a gentle, slow-release fertilizer so as not to over-fertilize. 

Types of Rosa Chinensis

  • R. chinensis var. chinensis: This variety is known for its hardy nature, bushing or climbing habit, and deep red, pink, or white blossoms that appear in clusters. 
  • R. chinensis var. spontanea: This variety is very similar in appearance to var. chinensis with red to pink flowers, but has a less tidy appearance and a more look as it climbs nearby objects for support. The small, flat or slightly cupped flowers usually appear solitary, not in clusters. 
  • R. chinensis var. semperflorens (Curtis) Koehne: This hardy variety, too, is similar in appearance to var. chinensis. Where it shines is in the blooms, which are deep red and semi-double to double. Flowers appears as solitary blooms or in clusters of two or three.  


Proper annual pruning of a rose bush is necessary for healthy, full growth. This is best done in the late winter or early spring. For roses kept as vines, keep the main branches long and prune away other branches to allow for proper airflow. For bushes, trim away any crossing branches or areas that are dying. Then prune the bush back to about one-third of its size. 

Propagating Rosa Chinensis

Rosa Chinensis can be propagated through cuttings, divisions, and grafting. Cuttings and divisions are more common and can be done without a rootstock plant. Grafting requires a rootstock plant. To propagate through cuttings, you need a sharp pair of snips, a pot, well-draining, rich soil, a plastic bag, and a clean stick. Then follow these instructions: 

  1. In the summer or fall, select a branch with several leaves. Using the snips, cut a piece about 6 inches long.
  2. Remove any lower leaves so that the cutting has 3 to 5 leaves at its tip. 
  3. Make small, shallow incisions from the cut end to one inch up the stem to encourage root development. Dip this end into rooting hormone. 
  4. Fill the small pot with moistened soil. Pack the soil down and poke a hole in the center for the cutting. 
  5. Firmly press the soil around the cutting to secure it in place.
  6. Place the stick in the pot next to the rose, then place the bag over the pot. This keeps the bag from resting on the cutting. 
  7. Keep the cutting in a location with bright, indirect lighting. 
  8. Air out the bag daily and keep the soil consistently moist. 
  9. Roots should form in 4 to 12 weeks.  

To propagate through divisions, you need a shovel, sharp garden snips, and a pair of garden gloves. Then follow these instructions: 

  1. In the early spring or late fall while the rose is dormant, use the shovel to dig up the plant along with its root system. 
  2. Select a trunk with a few branches and a healthy root system to separate from the main plant. 
  3. Using the shovel and the snips, separate the division from the main plant.
  4. Plant the main rose bush back in its place, then plant the new division in its own area. 

Potting and Repotting Rosa Chinensis

Rosa chinensis does well in the ground, but can also be grown in pots. Be sure to select a large pot to allow the root system to branch out and thrive. One with adequate drainage holes is also very important, as these roses cannot tolerate soggy soil. 

If the rose bush outgrows its container, it is best to repot in the early spring or late fall while the plant is dormant. Wearing protective gloves, tilt the pot on its side and tap it to loosen the root structure. Slide the rose out and plant it in a larger pot with fresh soil. 


For areas where frost occurs in the winter months, it is best to protect Rosa chinensis to prevent damage. Wrap the bush in horticultural fleece. Alternatively, create a collar around the trunk with fencing, then fill the space with leaves or straw to create a layer of insulation. Add a layer of mulch on the ground to help insulate the roots. 

How to Get Rosa Chinensis to Bloom

Rosa chinensis plants are prized for their long bloom season with lovely red, pink, or white flowers. The flowers are single or semi-double with a light, sweet aroma.

Trim away faded flowers to encourage more flowering. During the blooming period, apply a light fertilizer monthly and make sure the rose receives plenty of sunlight, since too little light will reduce the number of flowers. 

Common Problems With Rosa Chinensis

Rosa chinensis may present the gardener with problems if the growing conditions are not ideal. Here are some common problems you may encounter. 

No Blooms

A rose bush that is not flowering is signaling conditions inadequate for flower production. For Rosa chinensis this happens when the plant is not receiving enough light. Try moving it to an area that gets more sun daily. If the plant is receiving sun but is still not blooming, it could be due to nutrient deficiency. A monthly application of fertilizer during the growing season can correct this problem.

Yellowing Leaves

Rosa chinensis foliage can turn yellow for multiple reasons. If the foliage is yellow and dry, the leaves could be getting burned by too much direct sunlight. Potted rose bushes can simply be moved to areas where there's less direct sunlight, while in-ground rose bushes may require a shade cloth.

If the leaves are yellow and limp and the soil is excessively moist, this is a sign the rose is receiving too much water. Cut back on water and loosen the soil to help the water drain through. Add sand or another fast-draining material to increase drainage.  

Lastly, yellowing foliage could be caused by too much fertilizer. If this is the case, rinse the soil thoroughly to remove excess fertilizer and withhold fertilizer until the plant recovers. If there is a large buildup of fertilizer, you may need to replant in fresh soil.  

  • Are Rosa chinensis climbing roses?

    Yes, Rosa chinensis can be kept as a climbing rose. Depending on how you prune it, this plant can be grown as a bush or as a climbing specimen. 

  • Is Rosa chinensis fragrant?

    Rosa chinensis flowers have a light, sweet fragrance, making them desirable garden flowers. 

  • Does Rosa chinensis have fruits?

    Yes, these roses do mature to create small, red, berry-like fruits called rose hips. The rose hips can be harvested and are edible.