What is a Confederate Rose?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Sometimes referred to as the cotton rose, the Confederate rose is a unique Chinese shrub that is found throughout the southeastern United States. The unique popular name for the Confederate rose is based on the fact that the general area where this beautiful shrub is grown roughly corresponds to the section of the USA that once seceded from the Union and was known as the Confederate States of America.

The Confederate rose, properly identified as hibiscus mutabilis, is different in appearance from more conventional types of roses. Grown on plants that are shrublike and can grow to a height of twelve to fifteen feet, the Confederate rose has the unique property of changing color during the course of the day. The bloom on the rose opens in the morning as a beautiful white or a subtle pink, and gradually darkens during the course of the day. By evening, the petals of the Confederate rose typically achieve a deep red appearance.


The individual blooms of the Confederate rose are usually within four to six inches in diameter, with the individual petals possessing a delicate and somewhat billowing appearance. In deeper portions of the southern United States, the shrub tends to grow larger. Around the perimeter of the region, the Confederate rose tends to function more as a perennial, and may grow to a height of six feet. Typically, Confederate rose shrubs will feature a large number of blooms at any one time, adding a wonderful splash of color to any landscape.

Obtaining cuttings from the Confederate rose is usually done in the early spring, when conditions are favorable for the cuttings to root properly. The plant tends to grow best in sections of the landscape that receive direct sunlight or no more than partial shade. The soil should be rich in nutrients and minerals, as well as be well drained. While it is permissible to prune the Confederate rose, many people choose to allow the plant to grow at will.


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Post 1

A co-worker of mine has a Confederate rose and used to bring blossoms to work. They last for perhaps a day, but they are lovely flowers. She grew up in Mississippi and her father was a botanist. He raised the shrub and hers is grown from a cutting of that shrub.

The rose she had was a delicate pink, and stayed pink all day, unlike some other varieties.

I'd love to have a Confederate rose, but I don't think my thumb is green enough. I do best with plants that thrive on neglect, which certainly does not describe this rose. I can get a lantana to live, but I've had very little luck with anything with "rose" in the name.

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