Rugosa Roses are Tough, Fragrant and Ever-blooming - What More Do You Need?
This is one hardy rose that can be grown by everyone in the north.
It does not do all that well in more southerly gardens as it doesn't like the heat, dry soils and high humidity of summer. My sense of this is that the Southern gardeners can envy us for this gorgeous plant as we envy them for the things we northerly gardeners can't grow.
And a fact for your next rose party – the rugosa rose was introduced into Western rose gardens in the late 1700's by plant explorers and we've fallen in love with it ever since.
'Rosa rugosa 'Bluete'' Image courtesy
Appearance Of Rugosa Roses
You'll know rugosa roses or one of its hybrid rose offspring because of the dark green, crinkled leaves that are characteristic of this species (rugosa means "wrinkled" in horticultural Latin)
The flowers are usually "single" blossoms with one row of five petals but there are hybrid rugosa roses with double flowers that have managed to keep the hardiness and strong floral fragrance of the rugosa rose and combine it with the double flowering of the other parent. Generally, you're going to see reds, whites, pinks and a few purples in the bloom colours.
Remove Spent Blossoms
Here's a thought - if you want this rose to keep blooming, you have to remove the spent blossoms. Do that and it will produce another flush of blooms. However, if you leave the dying blossoms on the plant you will be rewarded with an amazing show of red rose hips that will last for a very long time (as long as the birds don't get them) into the fall and winter. I note that rose hips are an excellent source of vitamin C and you can harvest them yourself for teas and cooking.
This rose can fight back as you'll quickly discover when you try to prune it. The canes are pretty much covered with stiff thorns. Follow the instructions elsewhere on this site for rose renovation and pruning techniques.
'Rosa rugosa red Image courtesy
And if you grow this rose on its own roots, you'll find it will send suckers up reliably every spring. Do allow it to spread if you want to a showy shrub and do plant it so it is not overly confined by neighboring plants (allow 6 feet for this rose). You can however dig up the suckers in the early spring to restrict the spread of the plant and simply plant the sucker (as long as it has roots on it) in another part of the garden.
Keep that transplanted sucker quite damp for several weeks and the odds are it will survive to form another shrub rose. Alternately, you can dig and move the first year suckers in the fall after the leaves have fallen off. They will move and establish themselves easily at this time.
Tough and Disease Resistant
The rugosa rose is also a tough and disease resistant rose. You'll rarely see black spot on it and even if it does get a foothold, the plant shrugs it off. The one characteristic of this rose that can create problems for traditional rose growers is that if you spray it with a fungicide or chemical pesticide, it can drop its leaves in protest. Don't ask me why this is true but it really doesn't even like soap sprays all that much. You may see Japanese beetle on it or some small amounts of caterpillar damage. Let me suggest you use a heavy water spray to knock off any pests and control them if necessary when they reestablish themselves on nearby plants.
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