Rosa 'Mutabilis'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 1 Professionals
Common Name: China rose
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to frost
Bloom Description: Yellow to orange to pink to red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Other: Thorns


Best grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil 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, keep roots cool and discourage weeds. Remove spent flowers to encourage rebloom. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6, so plants need a protected site and crowns need winter protection in the St. Louis area. 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 clean-up during winter (dormant season). Prune as needed in late winter to early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

This China rose is a rounded, repeat-blooming, old garden shrub rose which grows 3-6' tall (typically to 3' in northern climates and taller in southern climates). Features clusters of slightly fragrant, single flowers (3" diameter) which bloom in May and repeat throughout the summer into fall. Flowers change color (mutate as the cultivar name suggests) as they mature, opening yellow and changing to orange, pink and finally deep pinkish-red. Thus, a shrub in full bloom will feature a wide spectrum of flower colors. Medium green foliage and red stems. Orange hips will form if spent flowers are not deadheaded. Sometimes called butterfly rose because of the purported resemblance of the open flowers to butterflies. Synonymous with and formerly known as Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis'.


Roses are susceptible to a large number of diseases, the most common of which are black spot, powdery mildew, rust and rose rosette. Although good cultural practices are the first line of defense in disease control, regular preventative fungicide applications throughout the growing season are usually required, particularly in humid climates with regular summer rainfall such as the St. Louis area. This China rose has good disease resistance, however. Potential insect problems include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, rose midges, leafhoppers and spider mites. Local rose associations and extension services are usually able to offer specific recommendations and advice for selecting and growing roses.

Garden Uses

Shrub or mixed borders. Wild, cottage or rose gardens. Excellent specimen. Also effective as a hedge.