Rugosa Roses

Dec 1, 2023 | Gardening Advice

The Rugosa Rose came to us from the Orient, and has been transformed into a landscape work horse. These roses are cold hardy, insect and disease resistant, and have
excellent flower, fruit, foliage, form and fall color characteristics.

R. rugosas are a mounding shrub, which grow 3-6′ , spreading over a similar width. They are especially effective used in masses and as unclipped hedges.

Common names for R. rugosa are Tomato Rose and Beach Tomato. These names refer to the large orange-red fruit produced in late summer. Mature hips may be present along with flowers, making a colorful display.

Flowering occurs predominantly in June and July, with sporadic blooms for the rest of the summer. To increase flower production, remove the first crop of hips as soon
as the flowers fade, broadcast some 10-10-10 general purpose garden fertilizer beneath the bushes, and water a few times a week. This will allow the plants to put on another fine display when garden color, from shrubbery, is normally scant. Fall color is a pleasing yellow or gold. The showy hips only add to the display.

The species Rosa rugosa has two variants: Rosa rugosa, which has single flowers in various shades of pink, and Rosa rugosa alba, a single white flowered plant. These are most often seed grown, and once mature, spread by underground stolons to form large colonies. A trait which makes them ideal for erosion control by the seashore or any other sunny spot for that matter.

The species Rugosa are spreaders. Plant them where there is plenty of room. Do not plant them in small confined spots or in the perennial border, where its stolons will invade other perennials or shrubs. They are slightly hardier and more foolproof than the named cultivars, and are the best suited for erosion control. They need only well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil, and are salt tolerant.

The hybrid Rugosas are still very hardy, but slightly tamer and more refined. They need the luxury of better soil preparation to thrive and perform best. They are not invasive spreaders, so they can deservedly share the garden with a respectable array of horticulture’s star performers. Employ them with other shrubs, in the mixed border, as hedges, as a single specimen, in huge masses, or even in large containers. Flowers range from single, to semi-double, to fully double. Many cultivars have a heady fragrance, which just adds to their popularity.

The named Rugosa are sometimes bud-grafted. If there is ever trouble with these hybrids it most often occurs at the union. When you plant your hybrid rugosa , bury this union well below the soil line. There it will be protected from severe cold and drying winter wind. Keep careful watch for sprouts from the understock. They will have different characteristics than the named variety; cut them back to the main stock.

Photo courtesy of Prides Corner Farms

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