Rosa laevigata
Common Name: Cherokee rose 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Southern China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Other: Thorns


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it is best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best flowering and disease resistance generally occur in full sun. Water deeply and regularly (mornings are best). Avoid overhead watering. Good air circulation promotes vigorous and healthy growth and helps control foliar diseases. Summer mulch helps retain moisture, keeps roots cool and discourages weeds. Remove and destroy diseased leaves from plants, as practicable, and clean up and destroy dead leaves from the ground around the plants both during the growing season and as part of a thorough cleanup during winter (dormant season). Prune as needed in late winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rosa laevigata is a climbing rose native to fields, thickets, farms and low-elevation mountain areas in China. It was first brought to the U.S. in early colonial times. At one point, it acquired the common name of Cherokee rose (which it retains) in large part because it was being cultivated and widely distributed by Cherokee Indians. In 1916, under the mistaken belief that it was a U.S. native plant, it was designated as the state flower of Georgia. It has now naturalized throughout much of the southeastern U.S. from North Carolina to Florida west to Texas. This is an evergreen (in mild climates) climber that will grow to 6-20’ long on arching stems armed with hooked thorns. It also can be grown as a sprawling free-standing shrub. Stems are clad with trifoliate dark green leaves with coarsely toothed leaflets. Single, fragrant white flowers (to 4” diameter) with scalloped petals and yellow stamens bloom for several weeks in spring. Unfortunately there is no repeat bloom. Flowers are followed by large, bristly orange-red hips (to 2” long).

Genus name comes from the Latin name for rose.

Specific epithet means smooth.


Will spread somewhat aggressively in certain parts of the southeastern U. S. This species rose is generally not susceptible to the disease and insect pests that attack many of the hybrid roses. For roses in general, potential disease problems include black spot, powdery mildew and rust. Potential insect pests include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, rose midges and leafhoppers. Spider mites may appear.


Interesting vine for trellises or fences. Screen or barrier plant (quite thorny). Mounded shrub for open areas. Naturalized areas. Sprawl over a wall.