China Rose, Butterfly Rose 'Mutabilis'


Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rosa (RO-zuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Mutabilis
Additional cultivar information:(aka Tipo Ideale, Butterfly Rose)
Hybridized by Unknown
Registered or introduced: pre 1894
Synonym:Rosa chinensis
Synonym:Rosa chinensis var. mutabilis
Synonym:Rosa mutabilis
Synonym:Rosa turkestanica
Synonym:Rosa x odorata
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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Bloom Color:

Yellow blend (yb)

Pink blend (pb)

Bloom Shape:


Flower Fragrance:

Slightly Fragrant

Bloom Time:

Blooms repeatedly



Trained to climb

Patent Information:


Other Details:

Unknown - Tell us

Pruning Instructions:

Blooms on new wood; prune early to promote new growth

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

By grafting

By budding

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Berkeley, California

Lincoln, California

Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Sacramento, California

San Francisco, California

Tracy, California

Ukiah, California

Homestead, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Perry, Florida

Punta Gorda, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Barnesville, Georgia

Darien, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Coushatta, Louisiana

Logansport, Louisiana

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Roslyn, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Angleton, Texas

Austin, Texas (3 reports)

Belton, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Denton, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

Iredell, Texas

North Zulch, Texas

Pearland, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Rowlett, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Victoria, Texas

Arlington, Virginia

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 6, 2014, lancer23 from San Francisco, CA wrote:

As other gardeners have noted this is a very carefree rose with evergreen leaves, with little care it even blooms through winter freezes. Remarkable.


On Sep 3, 2012, mutablis from Red Rock, NSW
Australia wrote:

This rose is beautiful, tough and generous, and thrives in my garden in Sydney Australia.
She will grow to a height of 8 feet x 8 feet if given permission, does not loose her leaves and flowers all year. I don't think that you can ask more of a rose.
I keep pruning to a minimum, only removing twiggy growth and gently shape her
I water her weekly only in hot weather, feed with certified organic blood and bone, and foliar feed every two weeks with a solution of liquid seaweed (seasol in Australia) and fish emulsion (Charlie Carp in Australia). I mulch with organic sugar cane mulch twice yearly.
She will occasionally develop a bit of black spot, but I don't consider this to be a problem. No chemical sprays or treatments are used, and I always practice good garden h... read more


On Apr 14, 2010, robmtexas from Austin, TX wrote:

Mutabilis is a fine rose for regions in the SW, it has low water needs once established and flowers continuously.


On Feb 8, 2008, Elphaba from Rockport, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Thorns seem to be poisonous. When stabbed, I find the wound itches like crazy.

I've seen this rose grown as a small tree at two nurseries. This is not the typical tree rose. It is the rose, grown on its own roots, pruned into tree form. For me, it grows as a climber. It's grown into my neighbor's trees and on my side of the fence it's grown up my 12' bouganvillea. I originally tried to grow it as a bush, but could not prune it enough to keep it in check.

As for mildew and black spot, it will get both. It just doesn't care b/c it grows so fast. Problem is that it sometimes passes them on to other roses.


On Apr 6, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

This rose didn't make it through the winter for me (Zone 7a). It may be too tender, but Mme Alfred Carriere (a Noisette) survived just fine. It's hard to say what went wrong, but it definitely wasn't the supplier's fault.


On Jun 3, 2004, Paulwhwest from Irving (Dallas area), TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Won the Victorian award thirteen times from 1998-2001.

Parentage unknown.


On Sep 20, 2003, margaretx from Houston, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

Mutabilis is an "antique rose" as it was introduced to the Europeans prior to 1894.

Because there are so many varieties of roses available today, they have been divided into classes. Mutabilis is in the "China" class because it was discovered there. Other characteristics of Chinas are a particularly open growth habit, fine foliage and pointed leaves. These China roses were the first truly remontant or repeat blooming roses in the world.

Chinas do very well in the south and come in all sizes. Archduke Charles gets large but Martha Gonzalez grows low to the ground. Old Blush is constantly in bloom with a lovely pink.

The flowers of the China's won't win at the shows but they are classically old roses. A little mussy, lightly scented an... read more


On Sep 19, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
A good xeriscape plant that withstands extreme heat and drought, this "old-fashioned" rose has survived for generations with minimal care. It will bloom all season without supplemental watering. The buds are vivid flame-red. Silver dollar sized, simple, slightly fragrant blooms begin as yellow turn to apricot, then pink and finally crimson. It sets 1/2" globular hips in the late summer and fall. They are green at first and gradually turn a pumpkin orange. Plant it where it can do its thing without having to be heavily pruned. Flourishing as a fast grower, it needs a lot of space, both in heighth (6' to 10') and width (5' to 8'). In warm climates or a sheltered location, some specimens have grown to 20' tall.

An extremely healthy rose, it seems to have ... read more


On Jun 29, 2003, brianich from Pearland, TX wrote:

The blooms change color as they age (thus "mutabilis"), progressing through the colors listed above (although I'm unsure of the order) and ending in crimson just before the petals drop. It's a vigorous bush, can be trained as a climber. Mine grows up and over an 8 ft arbor and needs even more room.


On Apr 17, 2003, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

"Butterfly" is in it's 3rd year in my garden, 1st photo above is April 17th. I cut it back hard in January, first bloom was end of March. Although it does get Black Spot, it is said to be disease-free.

A fine rose for Southern gardens, the heat and humidity doesn't slow it down much, it blooms untill frost. Very different with lt yellow, peach, lt pink and dark pink all at once, not to mention the buds! It has been 4 x 6 in my lightly shaded spot.