How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Great Maiden’s Blush Roses

‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ roses are charming old garden roses with a history dating back to the 15th century. Clusters of blush pink rosettes carry exceptional fragrance, and blue-gray leaves complement the rose’s attractive form. Gardening expert Katherine Rowe explores the many merits of these beautiful roses for any garden collection.

Close-up of great maiden's blush roses displaying soft, creamy-pink petals in densely layered blooms, set against a backdrop of glossy, dark green, oval-shaped leaves.


Rosa ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ is a historic rose with silky pink blooms and an exceptional pure rose fragrance. The rich flowers are lush globes full of petals. Attractive gray-blue foliage is pretty among other green shades in the garden border, even when the rose isn’t in flower. 

This cultivar is an alba rose, a classification among the oldest garden roses bred for beautiful flowers, vigorous growth, and high fragrance. With a heritage dating back to the 15th century, this plant makes a beautiful heirloom rose in any collection today.

Old garden roses bring exceptional disease resistance and adaptability. Combined with ‘Great Maiden’s’ tidy form, unique foliage, lovely cupped blooms, and fragrance, there’s no denying the embellishments she adds to the garden.

‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ Rose Overview

‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ Rose Overview. Close-up of a blooming cluster of delicate, blush-pink flowers and dark green, oval-shaped leaves.
Plant Type Rose
Family Rosaceae
Genus Rosa
Species ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’
Native Area Garden origin
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height 5-8’
Watering Requirements Medium
Pests & Diseases Disease-resistant; possible black spot, powdery mildew, rust, aphids, scale, Japanese beetles
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Average
Hardiness Zone 3-9

What are ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ Roses?

Close-up of a large lush rose bush in the garden, showing soft, creamy-pink blooms with numerous petals, set against glossy, deep green foliage and thorny stems.
This rose enchants with fully-petaled pink blooms and exquisite fragrance.

This rose graces the garden with fully-petaled pink blooms in the early summer. Each rose boasts an exceptional old rose fragrance, described as one of the most refined and purest rose scents. She’s an alba rose, a class of old garden roses known for their vigorous growth, hardiness, disease resistance, beautiful white and blush pink flowers, and glaucus foliage.

Thought to be a sport of ‘Maiden’s Blush’, this cultivar is similar in flower and perfume but larger in stature than the original. Some hybridizers use the two as synonyms. Alternate names include ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’, the French counterpart of this rose.

This rose is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit and an America Rose Society award winner for flower beauty and garden performance. It tolerates a range of growing conditions, including partial shade.


Close-up of blooming roses, which present pale pink, double-layered flowers, accompanied by serrated, dark green leaves.
Dating back to the 1400s, this rose has a storied history.

Great Maiden’s Blush’s origins are muddled, though we know it’s from the 1400s and was cultivated commercially in France and England in the 1700s.

Alba roses result from crosses between two heirloom species, Rosa gallica and a relative of Rosa canina (the dog rose). Further hybridizing led to more cultivars. Both long-lived roses are indigenous to central and southern Europe and Northwest Africa.

Gallica roses, in cultivation since the 13th century, are grown commercially for their bloom and vigor and medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic uses (also called “the apothecary rose”). R. gallica ‘Officinalis’ became popular in Victorian gardens and is the ancestor of many other roses, like damasks and albas.

The dog rose is a rambling beauty that yields fragrant, large, white-to-pink single flowers with yellow stamens. Rosa canina gets its species name (“sharp teeth”) from its curved, pointed thorns. Dog roses bloom beautifully in June and July.

Extremely long-lived, the oldest known living rose is a dog rose. The Thousand Year Rose grows at Germany’s Hildesheim Cathedral, where it’s allegedly grown since the 800s, the time of the church’s founding. The extensive, shrubby climbing rose survived the church’s bombing in World War II and continues to bloom today.

This rose possesses the traits of both rose species in its alba form. ‘Great Maiden’ is the parent to Rosa ‘Queen of Denmark,’ introduced by James Bosth in 1816. The difference between the two roses is the bloom color and form. ‘Queen of Denmark’ blooms medium pink and has a bushy habit. It grows four to six feet tall.


Close-up of a gorgeous soft pink rose flower against a blurred background of green foliage.
This rose dazzles with its sweet fragrance and abundant pink petals.

These roses feature loosely double, cupped rosettes with forty or more pink petals per flower. Buds begin creamy yellow and open to pale blush-white blooms.

As an alba rose, this is a single-season bloomer, flushing with clusters of large, showy blooms in early summer. Clusters hold up to 10 blooms each. The pale pink to white flowers and captivating fragrance are showstoppers when plants are in bloom. Ample leaves, serrate and soft in gray, blue, and green tones, add to this well-shaped rose’s multiseason beauty.

This rose grows five to eight feet tall with a broad spread of four to five feet. Plants have an upright form with tall, arching canes for a fountain effect as a landscape specimen. Heavy canes bear light prickles. 

It’s at its finest when allowed to grow and sprawl naturally with little shaping. This carefree rose is low-maintenance in the landscape.

When the flowers are fully open, bright yellow stamens attract pollinators. As blooms fade, rose hips emerge, bringing lasting winter interest and food for birds and other wildlife.

Native Area

This rose blooms with layers of blush-pink petals, contrasted by bright green, finely toothed leaves and thorny, arching stems.
These roses thrive across diverse European climates.

Albas are native to central and southern Europe, from Mediterranean climates with warmer temperatures to continental climates with colder winters. Derived from hardy species of roses, they tolerate various light conditions, including partial shade. They also adapt to different soil conditions and periods of drought.


Hardy old garden roses like this cultivar grow in various situations. Allow plenty of room for mature growth and good air circulation around plants. Leave ample space around the plant for air movement and to ensure roots have enough room to spread

To avoid overcrowding, leave at least one foot between roses and companion plantings and three to four feet between larger plants. This rose is glorious in her upright, arching form, where tall canes have room to retain their natural, tidy form.


Close-up of a gardener replanting a rose bush into soil in the garden.
Plant roses during cooler seasons for optimal establishment, avoiding extreme temperatures.

Roses can be planted year-round, with the best conditions generally in late winter, early spring, and fall. Cool temperatures and seasonal moisture give plants time to establish before winter and summer temperature fluctuations. For the least stress on the new plant, avoid frozen or waterlogged conditions and extreme heat or drought periods.

Roses ship potted or bare-root, usually from January through May, depending on your climate. Look for “own root” roses, plants propagated from a single variety with a developed root system or grafted stock for increased vigor.

Bare root roses arrive dormant without soil but quickly fill out after planting as temperatures warm. They’ll establish over the spring for summer blooming. Before planting a bare-root rose, soak it in water for 24 hours.

For nursery potted and bare-root plants, dig a hole six to eight inches larger than the root ball to loosen the surrounding soil and accommodate all the roots. Then, amend the native soil with compost.

How to Grow

This is a carefree rose free of fussy maintenance and specific cultural requirements. However, all roses benefit from certain growing conditions for optimal health and flowering.

Ensuring air circulation for plant vigor and health while preventing foliar diseases is essential to growing healthy roses.


View of a blooming rose bush against a background of blooming blue delphiniums, which displays romantic, light pink flowers with densely packed petals, paired with lush, deep green leaves on graceful, thorny stems.
For optimal growth, these roses need ample sunlight.

These roses grow best in full sun, where blooming and disease resistance improve . They also grow in partial shade (at least four hours of sun is a good rule of thumb for shaded roses). Dappled sunlight is fine for this tough alba, though full shade decreases blooming and overall health. 

In hot summer climates, they’ll benefit from the morning sun with protection from direct afternoon rays.


Close-up of a rose flower with delicate pink double petals covered with water droplets, against a blurred background.
Deep watering once a week is ideal for these roses.

Water your roses deeply rather than frequently throughout the growing season to a depth of one inch. When newly planted, ensure the soil stays moist until the roses establish (about one month). 

Once established, these roses need an average of about one inch per week during dry spells. Watering too frequently increases root diseases. When established, these roses are drought-tolerant.

All roses do best with morning water, preferably drip or ground-level irrigation. Refraining from overhead watering helps prevent foliar diseases, especially by avoiding evening or nighttime sprinklers. Some gardeners do fine with overhead irrigation for roses, watering in the morning to give leaves time to dry in the sun.


Close-up of a young rose bush consisting of short, strong green stems with young red shoots.
Loose, rich soil with good drainage is perfect for them.

Like other roses, this cultivar prefers loose, rich, neutral to slightly acidic soils. They thrive in well-draining soils with even moisture but don’t protest if conditions are less than ideal.

They grow in a variety of soil types, from clay to loam to sand. Ideal soils contain organic material added to the native soil. At planting, add three to six inches of compost from completely broken-down plant material, especially in poor soils like clay and sand.  Compost will help with aeration, moisture retention, drainage, and nutrition. 

Temperature and Humidity

A blush rose under the rain against a blurred green background, showing clusters of pastel pink blooms with petals slightly curled back.
These roses handle various climates and temperatures with ease.

This rose cultivar is hardy down to USDA zone 3. It withstands hot and cold climates. For planting, roses prefer temperatures between 40 and 60°F (16°C).

Mulch around plants to help regulate temperatures, keeping roots cool in the summer and providing insulation in the winter. In cold winter areas, protect the rose crowns for best overwintering.

In areas with high humidity, give this rose plenty of air circulation. Ensure enough space around the plant and avoid overcrowding with other plants.


Close-up of a woman in blue gloves fertilizing a rose bush in a sunny garden with granular fertilizer using a metal spatula.
Feed with a balanced fertilizer for robust growth and blooming success.

A balanced fertilizer in early spring and early summer ensures a vital growing season. Fish emulsion, seaweed extract, or an organic rose fertilizer do the trick throughout the growing season. Mycorrhizal fungi promote healthy roots and soil.


Close-up of a gardener's hand in a blue glove pruning a rose bush using red pruning shears.
Maintain with mulch, skip deadheading, and prune minimally for perfect roses.

This is a low-maintenance rose. For the best growth, provide roses with mulch year-round. Maintain a three-inch layer to retain moisture, regulate temperature, and suppress weeds. Mulch also adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

Since these roses are single-season bloomers, they don’t require deadheading. Leave spent flowers in place so showy hips will set for fall interest and wildlife forage.

Remove diseased leaves, plus those from the ground during the growing season and in winter, as part of regular maintenance. Removing fallen leaves and flowers promotes overall rose health and reduces the occurrence of pests and diseases.

This rose doesn’t require special pruning. As preventative maintenance, remove any crossed, diseased, or dead canes in late winter before spring buds set.


This rose cultivar propagates best through softwood cuttings. Rose cuttings may take a few years to develop into full, multi-stemmed plants, but reproducing the parent plant through cuttings is relatively easy.


Close-up of a woman's hands holding rose cuttings, which are short, thorn-covered stems with several pairs of oval, jagged leaves.
Take stem cuttings in spring or fall for propagation.

Propagate roses from cuttings in the spring or fall. Take multiple cuttings since not all may root. Here are guidelines for taking rose cuttings:

  • Cut a six-to-eight-inch piece of stem from the tip of a healthy cane. Remove any flowers or hips down to the first layer of healthy leaves.
  • Remove the foliage from the bottom ½ of the cutting, keeping any upper leaves intact. Keep cuttings moist until ready to pot.
  • Optionally, moisten the cutting and dip the lower stem in rooting hormone, coating generously. Tap off any excess rooting powder.
  • Stick the cutting at about half its length in a pot with moist, well-draining potting mix. Vermiculite and perlite make suitable mixtures.
  • Place the pot in a bright, warm location, avoiding direct sunlight (especially direct afternoon sun).
  • Water/mist as needed, keeping the soil evenly moist. When roots have taken hold and new growth emerges, transplant stems to a larger pot or into the garden. New plants will be tender.

Common Problems

Choosing a disease-resistant plant like Rosa ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ and providing the appropriate cultural conditions are the first steps to a healthy and beautiful rose. These plants have few problems, but as roses, they are susceptible to black spot, powdery mildew, rust, and rose rosette. They may also experience aphids, beetles, scales, and spider mites, among other insects. 

Planting in full sun with plenty of air circulation and average moisture helps stave off infections. Pruning and removing diseased leaves helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases. For best health, remove fallen leaves and flowers from the base of the plant during the growing season and in winter.

Certain companion plantings for roses, like lavender, catmint, allium, geranium, and agastache, help repel pests like aphids and beetles. They’ll also attract beneficial insects, creating a well-rounded garden system.


Close-up of a rose stem with small green buds covered in swarms of aphids - tiny, soft-bodied, green-tinged insects.
Spot insects early to prevent damage.

The best way to control insects is to spot them early. You’ll likely see the insects themselves or notice their sticky waste on plants, nibble damage, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth.

Aphids are common garden insects usually treated with non-chemical means. Often, they cause no plant damage, but severe infestations cause plant stress. Signs of stress include curled leaves and stunted growth.

Scale are common garden pests that pierce plants to feed on sap. You may notice a sticky residue from sap-sucking pests. The little (seemingly) legless blobs usually appear on the undersides of leaves and stems as black, gray, or silvery dots. Leaves may yellow and drop, with branches dying back in heavy infestations. Remove affected leaves and branches if severe.

Spider mites live on the undersides of leaves, indicated by webbing and light yellowing of leaf surfaces. Beneficial insects like ladybugs and predatory mites help control populations.

Japanese beetles feed on leaves. They cause leaves to skeletonize or turn yellow and drop.

In the active growing season, spray the plant with a strong stream of water to deter and knock insects off the stems. Do this in the morning so leaves dry in the early sun. Handpick larger pests, and pop scale off the plant with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. A simple horticultural soap rids the plant of insects if an infestation occurs, but be sure to follow label directions, as these affect beneficial insects as well.


Fungal rose black spot disease appears as circular black spots with fringed edges on rose leaves, causing the surrounding tissue to yellow.
Prevent black spot disease by keeping leaves dry.

As with pests, the best disease control is prevention through cultural conditions. In general, the best practice is to remove problem roses from the garden to minimize chemical treatments and promote the health of surrounding plants.

Black spot is one of the most common diseases for roses. The black spot fungus causes black spots with feathery margins on leaves and stems. Black spot occurs when leaves remain overly wet from overhead watering or periods of prolonged moisture. If spraying leaves with water to deter pests, do so in the morning when leaves will have time to dry in the sun.

Powdery mildew is another common fungal disease indicated by a gray-white powdery substance on leaves, stems, and buds. Leaves may distort and drop.

Rust, a common fungal disease, occurs in hot, humid summer climates. Powdery spores appear on the undersides of yellowing leaves. If you spot rust, cut off the infected leaves. Rust spreads readily, so it’s best to destroy the infected plant parts.

Rose rosette is a virus that causes growth malformation (like witch’s broom clusters) and kills the plant. Remove roses with symptoms of rose rosette to prevent the fast-spreading disease.

Horticultural oils like Neem treat black spot, rust, and powdery mildew (but again, these impact beneficial insects, so be sure to follow application requirements). Before a spray treatment, try removing diseased leaves and plant parts from the plant and ground to prevent spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ roses known for?

This is an old garden rose dating from the 1400s. It has abundant blush pink blooms in early summer and an exceptional pure rose fragrance. The foliage is blue-gray, attractive even when plants aren’t in flower. An alba rose, this cultivar is extremely hardy, vigorous, and has good overall plant health in a variety of garden situations.

Are ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ roses thornless?

This rose cultivar has fine thorns (prickles). Canes are less thorny than many others but not thorn-free.

Do ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ roses grow in the shade?

These roses are among the special old garden roses that tolerate partial shade. While full sun (at least six hours) is best, dappled sunlight suits this rose just fine. Morning sun benefits this rose most, or at least four hours of sun for best health.

Final Thoughts

A rose with unique foliage, form, and old-fashioned charm is unbeatable in the collection. This rose possesses these qualities plus versatility and easy care in the garden. 

The blush pink blooms of this beautiful heirloom rose envelop the beholder in beauty and fragrance and are perfect for the cutting or cottage garden, as well as for hedging and borders. High impact, low maintenance: ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ is a wonderful antique rose addition to the contemporary garden.

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