Rosa mulliganii

single white species rose

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

"This species from China makes a spectacular focal point in a large garden, for it is ornamental for much of the year. Although its individual flowers are small and single," states rose expert Christine Allen, "they appear in such huge, pendent trusses that they cover the entire plant and cast their fruity fragrance far across the garden." In bloom, its flowers attract bees and butterflies. Its new leaves and shoots are purplish-green, these mature to dark, grayish green and are very healthy. In autumn, the leaves turn burnished gold and russet, and countless thousands of tiny blood-red hips in winter make this a rose for all seasons. This rose is best suited to the larger garden, where it has room to spread along a fence, on a large, very sturdy pergola, or up a large conifer.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 60 ft. 0 in. (18.29 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 25 ft. 0 in. (7.62 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: best in full sun, but will flower fine in light to open shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Seasonal Interest: a multitude of white flowers in summer

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: burgundy, gold, bronze

Great Color Partners: purple, pink, lavender, yellow

Culture Notes
This very vigorous and massive rose grows best in rich well-drained soil, but will tolerate sand and clay. The flowering will be best in full sun, but it will still produce a good show in light or open shade. Although it will tolerate a considerable amount of drought, occasional watering during dry weather will keep it looking its best. No pruning is needed to maintain this vigorous grower, but provide ample room for this large shrub to fully develop. It has good disease resistance. Young plants may take three to four years to reach a blooming size.
Geek Notes
From Yunnan Province, China this rose masqueraded under the name of Rosa longicuspis for decades. The late Brian Mulligan, former curator of the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Washington, sorted out its identity, and it was named for him.