About Hybrid Gallica Roses
By Steve Jones
Master Rosarian

Hybrid gallicas are the oldest of the "bred" old garden rose families. Until recently, they were classed as gallicas. Hybrid gallicas were popular from the 1700s through the first half of the 1800s. These are once-blooming roses that have fine to hair-like thorns, grow to about four feet tall, have rough, furrowed leaves, and very full, fragrant blooms in all colors save for yellow. Gallicas come in white, pink, red, mauve, purple, crimson, and blends of these. Because of their wild colors, they were called the "Mad" gallicas. The famous gardens in Malmaison, Josephine Bonaparte's home, were largely gallicas. Insects did most of the crossbreeding till then when it was found that man can also breed roses by hand. Modern Roses 12 lists 690 hybrid gallicas, which is close to the number of gallicas listed in William Paul's first edition of The Rose Garden (1848).

Hybrid gallicas, like many other once bloomers, are winter hardy and need a lot of chill hours to bloom well. They do very well in our climate (Santa Clarita) because we can get down to 21 degrees, while people in the San Fernando Valley can't grow them. The exception is Rosa Mundi, the striped sport of Apothecary's Rose seems to bloom regardless. Hybrid gallicas on their own-roots tend to form thickets, so it is best to get budded plants. If you have on own-roots, consider growing in a pot.

Hybrid gallicas are pruned after blooming, but can also be pruned going into the winter months. The plants are prone to powdery mildew, so keep them in well-ventilated areas, or use a fungicide.

My favorite hybrid gallicas:

Duchesse de Montebello (1824) -- This rose is gallica like, but not typical of the family, but I love it anyway. Very full, light pink, 2-3 inch blooms with a strong fragrance, and a pip center, bloom during the month of May. Often the bloom lasts until June. This rose should win dowager more often. I rate this gallica a "10" in my yard.

Assemblage des Beautes (1823) -- Another of my favorite gallicas. The strongly scented, 2-3 inch, very full purplish-red blooms come on a well-behaved plant. Good bloom cycle.

d'Aguesseau (1836) -- This gallica was a favorite of Dean Hole, father of the Royal National Rose Society, and I agree. Very full, deep pink blooms with a great fragrance!

Rosa Mundi (<1581) -- One of the best known of the gallicas, now classed as Rosa gallica versicolor, a species. Red and white striped, this rose blooms in most climates. The plant will often revert back to its parent, Apothecary's Rose (now Rosa gallica officinalis), so it isn't uncommon to see both roses on the same plant. 

Charles de Mills (<1790) -- This is a temperamental rose in our climate, loves more chill hours than we have. Whether it blooms each year or not depends on the weather. Super full, large, purple blooms, top show winner in northern states. Bad mildewer, not for the novice, but when it blooms, wow!

Tricolor de Flandre (1846) -- a small plant with very full, small, about 2 inch, pink and white striped blooms with a pip center. Also very fragrant. Should win more at shows.

Tuscany (<1598) and Tuscany Superb (<1837) -- This duo of deep purple red blooms are excellent roses. They grow about 4 foot tall, and the blooms are wonderfully fragrant. 

Nestor (1834) -- My favorite gallica that I don't have, but have been meaning to get it. Medium pink, very full, fragrant blooms. I have seen this rose in other gardens and I love it!

Belle de Crecy (1829) -- A lovely rose with larger blooms than those previously mentioned. Medium pink, very full blooms with a strong fragrance. Growth more spreading.


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 03.30.01

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© Copyright  Steve Jones. All rights reserved. 

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Updated January 3, 2016

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