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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Rosa gallica 'Versicolor'
syn. R. gallica var. officinalis 'Versicolor'
Pronounced: RO-sa GA-lih-ka
Sunset zones: All (Western.)
USDA zones: 3-9.
Heat zones: 9-1.
Height: 3 1/2-4 feet (1-2 m).
Width: 3 feet (1 m).
Variegated, light pink with fuchsia striping, semi-double, fragrant flower.
Dark green, elliptic leaves.
Fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil.
Fertilize once a month with a complete organic fertilizer during the growing season.
Softwood cuttings in early summer.
Hardwood cuttings in autumn.
After flowering in early summer, cut back any shoots that spoil the rounded shape by 1/3 and side shoots, cut back by 2/3. Cut out any dead shoots or crossing branches. Flowers on second year wood. Cut out about half of the old canes every 2 or 3 years.
Pests and Diseases:
Aphids may be a problem.
Rainy Side Notes
Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' is one of the most famous of all the old garden roses. Also known as R. 'Rosa Mundi', it is a sport of the red apothecary rose or Provins rose--Rosa gallica var. officinalis. This rose shrub is sometimes confused with R. damascena 'Versicolor'.
R.'Versicolor' will often revert to a non-striped type. However, my shrub for over ten years is still sporting stripes on its flowers. Having said that, I hope I haven't jinxed it by my proclamation.
This rose proves to be problem free in my organic garden. The beautiful green foliage that remains insect and disease resistant spoils me. It does get a brief aphid attack in spring but beneficial insects in the garden counter attack and wipe the rose clean. The shrub looks good all season long and is fantastic in the mixed border. In my garden, it blooms for about three weeks in June. The rest of the season, it is a beautiful backdrop for later blooming perennials. A vine, Clematis alpina 'Helsingborg', is reaching over from the fence it is growing on and beginning to climb into the rose shrub. I am letting it go for now to see how both handle the relationship. The clematis blooms at a different time in early spring, so it wouldn't take away the spotlight from the rose blossoms in June. Even if they bloomed at the same time, the purple flowers of the clematis leaves in the photo at the top of this page, on the right side of the rose.
This rose is an easy one for the beginner, and a great shrub for the organic gardener that doesn't want to fuss with blackspot and bug chewed roses. You may be looking at that photo of the aphids on the rosebud and damage to the leaves and are probably thinking, I thought she said this plant was bug free? Some years it has an aphid outbreak. Why don't I spray them? Because within a week after seeing this mess, I can go back and find the shrub almost picked clean of aphids and it does not bat an eye or drop a petal from the attack. Some years when the aphids are more numerous than normal, I will squirt the buds with water from the hose. If you must kill the aphids, use a non-toxic insecticidal soap. Be sure to read the label and follow the directions carefully.
Photographed in author's garden.