Pruning Zephirine Drouhin?

teeandcee(Florida 9b)March 30, 2009

I keep reading conflicting info regarding pruning Zephirine Drouhin. Since I also read she's either a once bloomer or repeat bloomer I can't figure pruning out. I live in southwest Missouri and wanted to know if I prune her in the spring or not? Does she require regular pruning? She's putting out a lot of pretty new growth currently. This is my first year growing her. She's about 3 by 3 feet.

Any help appreciated!

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Zeffy isn't considered a once bloomer, but you might not get any good repeat until the bush has matured. Mine is coming into its 4th year, and I had some scattered repeat last year. As for regular pruning, that depends on how much space you want to give her. She is quite vigorous grower, throwing out 8 to 10 feet (at least) canes. She's going to get big in no time.

"Normal" pruning consists of taking out the canes that have become woody and unproductive, allowing new canes to come up from the base. You would prune in Spring. You also want to prune according to the 3 Ds: take out Dead, Diseased, and Damaged wood.

Check out this video from Paul Zimmerman at Ashdown Roses:


Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning Roses That Grow from the Base

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:50AM
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Meant to post a picture. Here's a mature specimen at the Columbus Garden of Roses. They've let the plant fountain out naturally. Hopefully Florence (Zeffyrose) will post a pic of her Zeffy, it's really glorious. Not sure how she prunes hers.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:57AM
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teeandcee(Florida 9b)

Thanks, Cincy. That pic is luscious! I'm excited about mine. She's planted at the stairs leading up to the second-story deck, so I plan on fanning her out horizontally along the railing. Wow!

And thanks for the pruning info. That was what I'd concluded but kept running into so much info I just wasn't sure if I was correct.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:00AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I let mine go for a few years and this spring did the first real pruning (beyond deadheading and removing dead wood). I did exactly what was in Paul's email on climbers, I cut any laterals that were coming off main canes down to about 6 inches (he did 12). Some of these were very thick and large, but the bush was getting a bit unmanageable. I'm planning on having this one climb up a post, but right now it's just tied to a pole in a fountain shape.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 5:13PM
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albinnibla(z7a OKC)

And here I go in after the big spring flush, and just Haul off with the clippers and WHACK her back to about 4 feet.
All she does is throw tons of new canes and on and on she carries. :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:00AM
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teeandcee(Florida 9b)

I guess I can conclude she's not at all picky! That's my kinda gal.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 7:23PM
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My ZD is in her fourth growing season and has gotten more beautiful every year. The first and second year were very underwhelming, actually, but so glad to see her thriving now! My question is that as buford says, she is becoming a bit unmanageable. It's glorious when she's in full bloom, but now that the first wave has finished, she's almost an eyesore because she's all over the place.

albinnibla, when you say four feet, do you mean all canes? I love the way the canes are woven around our fence now, but should I be concerned about that?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 9:48AM
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Eric----I was unable to get a really good picture of my Zeffys this year---too much rain--I'm no expert on pruning---in fact I really need to have DH take out some old canes--I usually just chop off whatever gets in my way----so far so good---LOL
this is my DH favorite picture----

and another

I need a better camera---LOL Zeffy and Albertine


    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 10:42AM
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Just joined this site and while grazing came across your absolute gorgeous roses. This brand was recommended to me as I was looking for a pink climber. Your's are breathtaking! I'm new to gardening here in Florida (I moved from Connecticut). Do these need strong trellis'? My plan was to have them on either side of my lanai and hopefully, someday have them meet. Many thanks. Terri

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:12AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

If you keep up with pruning, ZD isn't a very heavy rose. Compared to some climbers I have the canes don't get huge and woody, they seem to stay thin and somewhat pliable. I cut mine way back while wrapping it around a pole and it put out about 20 new canes! I guess the sun getting to the root base caused that. I love this rose!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:50AM
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brhgm(z8b LA)

No. It takes a few years to grow to full blooming size. Mine didn't bloom for three years. This year, the fourth year it is blooming like crazy, but still not as much as what you'v e seen in the pictures. Leave it alone this year. This rose loves to climb. Just prune it for shape.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 5:54PM
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teeandcee(Florida 9b)

Sheltie, I gardened for years in Florida. ZD may not do well down there. If not you might grow Tausendschon. It's a big rambler with thousands of pink blossoms. Each blossom is only about an inch but are in huge clusters that cover the bush. I know for a fact it does wonderfully in Florida as I had several. No fragrance though.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 3:11PM
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My Zephirine is in it's 2nd year in the ground and full of buds getting ready to bloom and is about 8ft tall currently. In it's 1st year there wasn't a whole lot of blooming. I purchased it as a 2 year old potted bare root from the local nursery(what you typically buy). I think Zephirine is best pruned by lopping entire canes that you don't want or need out from the base. Really, for the most part, Zephirine just throws out new, long canes from the base all the time, more than it breaks significantly large laterals for me at least.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 3:15PM
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robiniaquest(z6 MO)

I'm in SW Missouri too, and I grow ZD. She does rebloom, but not very well for me. The first flush is really the big show, with very few, sporadic blooms after that. I have two, and they are about 5 and 6 years old. I agree with those who have said this rose is slow to mature. But when it does, oh wow. It is worth the wait.

I grow (or have grown) several bourbons, and the only one that reblooms really well for me is Coquette des Blanches - all summer long. It blackspots just a little under the worst conditions we are likely to get, and is perfectly healthy the rest of the time. Mme. Ernest Calvat will give a nice fall flush if you can keep it healthy after the first monster flush. Zeffy has always been superclean here.

As for pruning, I have some of my ZDs pegged to a wall and trailing over the porch, and the rest just doing what it wants in a fountain shape like cincy's picture. I have pruned in late fall and early spring, just for shaping and hygiene, and the bloom doesn't seem to be affected either way. After watching the Ashdown video, I intend to do a little after the first flush this year, because the bloom could really only be improved. Good luck with this gorgeous rose!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:08PM
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teeandcee(Florida 9b)

Robiniaquest, thanks for that info. Mine is in her second year, has tripled in size, and is covered in buds. I too have found her to be perfectly clean here, which I'm delighted about. I'm looking forward to more and more blooms and size.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 11:21AM
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Mine had Powdery Mildew pretty bad in Columbus, so I began spraying and it went away. I still spray now, however I'm presuming Zephirine would be able to fend off powdery mildew this year if I didn't spray as it's a little more mature.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 5:40PM
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segask(z10 sunset zone 23/24)

I planted ZD from a 5 gallon pot just last summer. I live in zone 10 in San Diego, CA. New growth buds are starting to emerge. Here in San Diego, January is when roses are pruned. Since my ZD is brand new I won't do any cutting, but should I take all the leaves off now? When the modern hybrid teas are pruned you remove all the leaves, correct? Do you remove all the leaves from the OGRs and David Austins also?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 2:48AM
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I am sooo jealous of all of you who can grow ZD - when it is happy it is certainly a glorious rose.

However, I just wanted to post a warning - those of us who have tried to grow it in areas of CA that are very near the coast have had horrible problems with it mildewing. I had one in my garden for 5 years, when I finally SHOVEL pruned it, which I have only done twice in my gardening life. It was pure white from the top to the bottom, and daily spraying with fungicides only helped a little. Might have been the marine influence, I don't know, but I have heard similar complaints from those on the So CA coast.

So, before anyone runs out to get it based on the lovely pictures, please be sure and check with your local rose society(ies) - they can give you the best advice as to whether it will be happy in your climate. It is a famous rose, so getting that sort of info locally should be easy.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 2:08PM
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segask(z10 sunset zone 23/24)

thanks for the warning. Actually I'm several miles inland from the coast. Maybe I should change my Zone info. On the Sunset zone map I'm right on the border of Sunset zone 24 - 23. Its several degrees cooler here than the inland valleys, but also several degrees warmer and not as damp as the immediate coast.

When the growth buds begin to swell are you supposed to remove all the leaves?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 9:06PM
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Dearest Florence:
To be honest I'd never heard of ZD. Who Knew. Last winter I found one of your exquisite photos. So I figured maybe I try it. So I did. Last spring it was a tiny baby. By the fall it was about 2' tall by 4' wide. It had had approximately 10-16 flowers during the summer. They were beautiful. This winter, so far the lowest temp has been 12 degrees and she's hanging in there with a tad of protection.
Lordie if she gets evey one tenth of the blooms you get I might just die. Oh and did I mention not a spot of BS so far. Yippie. She is placed on a Southern exposier backing up to our greenhouse. Hopefully I placed her well. We'll see soon.
Thank you so much you are a major enabler.
Bless you.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 9:37PM
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I would be interested to hear the about the leaf stripping/not stripping practices of others in these warm zones. Hybrid tea shrubs, okay, they don't have that many leaves, do go a bit dormant, and I grow some (Pernetiana) that, even here, can pick up some black spot during the winter, so it doesn't seem unreasonable. However, I haven't considered doing that with roses of any of the other classes -- good grief, life is short enough, and why? (A lot of these fools keep sprouting, growing, and even blooming all winter, anyway).

For what it's worth, ZD still holds the record for "most rust on any rose, ever" here (not to mention the PM). She was fairly quickly gone, replaced by Jaune Desprez, who has been spectacular and very well-loved.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 11:04PM
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It's about 7 ft tall & we keep it that way it has 1 big flush in spring & sporadic rebloom later for us this bush is 14-15 years old. It gets pruned in late February here

I'd leave it be for the first 2 to 3 years just shaping it removing any dead twigs

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 11:29PM
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Glad to find this thread. I've been doing my major pruning of Zeffy when I pruned the other roses in February, and wasn't sure if that was a mistake. Guess I'm doing it right. Tho, this next year I will definitely prune more after bloom since it got huge by the end of the year!

Mine was 4 years old last year and absolutely loaded with buds! I was so excitedly looking forward to it bursting open since I absolutely LOVE those fragrant blooms and knew this would be it's first really big year. And then we had a really bad hail storm that took off probably 2/3 of the buds. I cried.

One thing I have noticed with my Zeffy and Belinda's Dream is that the blooms are fragrant while on the plant, but when I cut them to bring indoors, the fragrance is almost all gone right away. Is this common?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 7:58PM
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I wish you Zeffy growers would tell us what you're fertilizing with and if you are spraying. Are you mulching etc.? I have had my Zeffy for 3 years now....last spring it had the most buds...but sawflies decimated it...I got like 5 blooms off of is about 9 feet tall too...with four strong primary canes. It gets black spot too..but I haven't really amended its soil except a few mulches...gave some guano last spring. ...that's the reason for more blooms.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 2:55PM
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My Zephy is on it's 4th year. Planted it on the S.E. corner of the house. It has eaten the entire corner of the house. My trellis has been torn apart by this monster beauty. After my spring flush, I'm going to make a strong trellis against the wall and let it eat my entire south end of the house. I use regular 10-10-10 fertilizer (low salt under .06%). and fish in the spring every other week 2 times before it blooms. When (if ever) I prune it, I'm just going to shape the bush. I spray every other week with the rest of my roses. Everything stays clean.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:53PM
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When Zeffy is happy she is the most gorgeous rose---I love the fragrance in early spring----I've had several surgeries for the past few years so all my roses have been neglected----when I'm able to walk around I will use Alfalfa----just sprinkle around and hope for the best---A few years ago I nade Alfalfa tea and the roses seemed to love it----My pruning consists of just cutting off whatever gets in my way--Hopefully this year my DH will be able to chop off some of the very old wood---Good luck---Florence ------BTW----I don't use any spray in my garden

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 6:27PM
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I have 4 Zephrine Ds in 4 completely different areas of my yard. Three of these are 4+year old cuttings from a 9 year old parent plant.

NONE of my ZDs have ever been vigorous or healthy, despite my many years of soil building, researching, praying, etc. The parent plant has never been more than a wussy 6 feet or so. I am almost to the point of ripping all of them out (funny - the roots are gorgeous!) and replacing them with Knock Outs (OUCH - my head hurts just typing that!).

I was once a K.O. hater/snob and felt they were the product of the commercial machine of satan, but I have grown to respect them.

Problematically coincidental - my 2 Mme. Alfred Carriere climbers are just as pathetic (same age, same scenario).

Thanks for letting me vent!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:34PM
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Thanks to Florences rave reviews of Zeffie, I planted her Spring 2010. She is noe 4x4 and 10' tall. She would be bigger than 4x4 but then she gets in the way and I have to wack her a tad.
Right now she is covered with tight buds. I'm hoping for a beautiful spring flush. Maybe half as nice as Florence's Zeffie. I fertilize with horse manure. Never spray with anything. The first 2 years there was some BS in the lower leaves. I took them away.
She's a workhorse in the garden. Between her and Big MAC there is always a bouquet.
Thank you Florence.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 7:52AM
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Tayinnawin Nell,

Interesting you should say that. I have a Zephirine Drouhin that is 30+ years old. It grew in shade to about 4 feet with 1 or 2 canes and had 1 or 2 flowers on it each year. I did not fault the rose. After all it was in shade. About 2010 we had an extraordinarily wet Spring and the rose grew to 8-10 feet and had maybe 12 blooms. If it can grow a little more it will be in sun and so I wait.

I have had 2 or maybe 3 Madame Alfred Carrieres. They have all died rather promptly. I think that none lasted more than a year. I have another one now in a pot and intend to grow it on until it fills at least a 5 gallon pot before I plant it in the garden.

The fact that we both seem to have difficulty with both of these roses makes me wonder if we have a mineral deficiency or imbalance, perhaps in one of the trace minerals. I think that I may try a fertilizer like "Dynamite" that supplies them. Alfalfa seems to help. Our water is very high in calcium and therefore also has a high pH so these could also be a factors.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:25PM
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Cath - perhaps it could be a mineral imbalance, but in my case it's more likely a mental imbalance.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:18PM
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I've had my Zepherine for about 7 or 8 years now, and have only fertilized with Alfalfa mixed in water.

One year in February I pruned the laterals way back; big mistake, the blooms were so sparse, and not pretty at all. Now I just cut out old canes and let her rip, she gets to do whatever she wants.

A few years ago Zeffy posted a picture of her Zeffy; an Autumn Sunset had mingled in, and what a beautiful sight! Of course I ordered one and love it. Thank you, Florence, you have made such an impact on so many of us "novices"!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:43PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

So pretty!

My Zeffy got cut off at the base (but own-root) last fall by a handyman removing the shed doorstop that had prevented that. I figured I'd see no blooms this year!

But she's got several new canes with buds on now, right on schedule!! She actually has more canes now than before the accident. I'm sure she'll gain back the height soon, and now she's much bushier :) She only had 2 (long) canes before, so this is even better.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 6:21AM
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I love all these pictures of Zeffy-----I just vsited a friend of mine and she cuts everything way back including Zeffy ---hers looks great-----Pruning is always difficult for me---Hard for me to cut back healthy canes but the roses seem to love it----


    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:28PM
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I'm in the city of Chicago. My own root ZD from Heirloom Roses is in it's 5th year and gets full sun. It grew a little the first year, a lot the second, and then exploded the third year. I didn't know anything about pruning and just cut it back heavily. It only bloomed a little in the 4th year as a result.

This year I watched the Ashdown Roses videos on pruning (see below for picture of pruned roses). This year my ZD just started to bloom the other day (about 6 blooms - the first two to pop shown) and has hundreds of buds. I trimmed all the laterals to 12" and cut down a few canes (there are just so many!) completely at the ground. I trained the canes horizontally across the fence. I plan to prune the laterals (and new canes as needed) all summer just to keep it in control (middle picture is pre-bloom about a month ago). I'm not sure how that will affect bloom but otherwise it will overwhelm all the plants in the garden in front of it.

Prior to planting the roses, I raised the whole garden (a six foot wide strip around my yard) up about a foot using cow manure, pine compost (my soil ph is high), garden soil that was there, top soil, and mushroom compost - holding it up with a short landscape wall of Home Depot interlocking pavers. I spent a small fortune on dirt. I fertilize a few times a year with granular organic rose fertilizer. Last year I used some Epsom Salts but this year I didn't have any. I sprayed in Feb. with a copper fungicide and put down copper dust around the dirt. I had bad black spot last year. The garden centers around here said everyone did.

I mulch with cocoa shells. In Feb. I top dressed with the pine compost and cow manure before mulching last month. I have 3 other climbers (Jude the Obscure, a red one?, and Darlow's Enigma) across that same fence. They haven't yet bloomed this year. They were mostly all planted the same year (except the mystery red climber) and all bloom profusely and repeatedly but the first spring flush is the most intense. None of them are the monsters that ZD is. I've got 3 more bush roses in front of the climbers mixed in with my perennial and herb garden. It smells great in my yard.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 6:58PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

marianne, that looks great! I'm happy you can keep ZD in Chicagoland. Doesn't she smell great?

I just trimmed mine back. I really didn't get to do it this spring, and since it's mostly a spring bloomer, I took this time to cut almost everything off except for the main canes. I also want to train it more on the deck railings. I think that will look nice.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Great info above everyone, I'll use a ton of it. Thanks
Great site you have here, I'll be back.
Here is a shot of about 70 feet of ZD's on the South side of our house. They go all the way around..... love them.... 30 total.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 7:56PM
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