By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you need a forgiving plant to add natural beauty to your landscape? Maybe you live in the desert or by the beach? It can be hard to grow plants where they’re battered by ocean spray or forced to live under high temperatures with little moisture.
You’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through how to grow rosa rugosa (also known as the rugosa rose, the sea tomato, hedgehog rose and the beach rose). Here’s everything you must know to grow this type of rose and add gorgeous scenery around your home.
Growing Conditions for Rosa Rugosa
Rosa Rugosa can seem like a miracle plant. If you live where the climates are cold, you struggle to grow anything, and you’re desperately seeking color for your landscape, this plant can provide it.
If you live in a warmer, but harsher, climate, this plant can offer you a wonderful opportunity to grow something gorgeous with success.
The rugosa rose is a cold-tolerant plant. It can survive and thrive in planting zones three through nine. This plant can handle shade, salty air, cold temperatures, drought, and high humidity. It can also handle any type of soil.
If you’re going to try to create an ideal grow space for this type of rose, place it in full to partial sunlight with well-draining, nutrient-dense soil.
The more sunlight you provide this plant, the more blooms you’ll receive from it. The biggest thing to remember when picking a grow space is to ensure the plant has room.
This rose is tall and resembles a shrub. It can be as large as eight feet tall and six feet wide. It has a gorgeous fragrance but contains many thorns. Keep all of this in mind when deciding where rosa rugosa should be grown around your property.
You want to pick a place its beauty can be seen, but without it being in a position to inflict pain as people walk by it.
How to Plant Rosa Rugosa
Planting rosa rugosa is a basic process. You should begin by purchasing a plant from a local nursery and finding a location that meets proper growing conditions.
Once the spot is found, dig a hole that’s one foot deeper than the plant. Work compost into the planting location. Place the plant in the hole and fill with soil.
You can also propagate rosa rugosa from cuttings of other plants. This process is also simple. After the rose has finished blooming, cut the tips off the end of the stem.
You’ll need an eight-inch cutting. Leave two leaves on the cutting and dip it into rooting hormone. Place the cutting in a container filled with quality soil.
Lightly water the cuttings. You want the soil to remain moist without becoming soggy and water-logged. It should take approximately one month for the cutting to form roots.
Once the root system is developed, transplant the cuttings into their own pots or in ground grow space. They should become strong adult plants over time.
How to Care for Rosa Rugosa
Rosa rugosa is known for being a virtually maintenance-free plant. You can plant it, allow it to grow as it sees fit, and enjoy its beauty without lifting a finger. This type of rose will produce pink, white, red, and purple blooms from spring through early summer.
Maintenance only comes into play when you need to control the plant from taking over an area. As mentioned above, this plant can handle drought conditions.
However, if you’re able to supply water, you should. When you first plant the rugosa rose, it’s important to water during its first grow season to help the roots become established.
You should also try to keep weeds down around the plant to deter disease and pests. These roses shouldn’t be fertilized, and pruning will depend upon your preferences.
Pruning is mainly done to keep a specific shape. However, by pruning as little as three inches from the tips of the stems in late winter, your plant will produce new growth in the spring.
It can also help improve air-circulation around the plant which helps deter disease. You don’t need to deadhead these roses. This will help the plant produce hips during the fall and winter months.
Be sure to add mulch around the base of the rugosa rose. This will help insulate during cold weather and keep the weeds down during warmer weather. It also helps with retaining moisture.
During your first year of planting, if your plant tries to bloom, remove the blooms. Rosa rugosa shouldn’t bloom until its second year. By removing the blooms during year one, you’re helping to strengthen the plant.
Finally, some varieties of rosa rugosa have suckers. By removing the suckers early on, you can help control the spread of this plant.
If you plant rosa rugosa where it can spread and remain in its natural state, you won’t need to perform maintenance to the plants.
However, if you must contain these simple but beautiful plants, try these few tips to enjoy this style of rose around your home.
Garden Pests and Diseases for Rosa Rugosa
Rosa rugosa, unfortunately, has quite a few pests and diseases you should be aware of. Most of the diseases which form have to do with moisture issues.
Rust, powdery mildew, and black spot are all fungi-based diseases which occur when the foliage is left wet for longer periods of time. They can also occur when you water your plants overhead.
Either way, by pruning to increase airflow around your plant, watering earlier in the day, and watering from beneath the plant, you may be able to avoid these diseases.
If you notice these diseases forming, be sure to remove any damaged part of the plant and spray the plant with a fungicide.
Stem cankers are also formed by a fungus. This usually occurs when part of the stem becomes damaged. It can also happen via cross-contamination of dirty pruning shears and your rosa rugosa plant.
Be sure to keep your gardening materials clean, especially when handling diseased plants. You should also cut a few inches below the canker on your rose’s stem. This will stop the spread of the fungus, and the plant should heal.
The pests you should be made aware of are spider mites, Japanese beetles, aphids, borers, and scales. Spider mites are hard to notice because of their size. You will notice their webs before you notice them, in most cases.
Japanese beetles are a brazen pest that you should have no trouble spotting. Aphids come in a variety of colors, but they suck the sap from your plant. You should begin noticing plant discoloration when they take over.
Borers will drill holes through the stems of your roses. The best way to prevent them is to seal any open spot on your stems, after pruning, with glue.
Finally, scales are tiny little bugs that look like growths on your plant when they attach themselves. If you suspect pests are taking over your rosa rugosa, you can use insecticides to help clear up most infestations.
By being alert to the threats, which may come towards your rugosa rose, you stand a greater chance at helping your plant survive and prosper.
How to Harvest Rosa Rugosa
The rugosa rose isn’t a top choice for creating bouquets. However, this rose does create a product that many gardeners use.
If you’re going to grow this type of plant, it’s beneficial to know what else can be provided outside of its beautiful blooms.
The rosa rugosa plant will produce rose hips through the fall and winter months. Some gardeners use these hips to make a variety of jams or fresh teas.
You should harvest the hips when they’re at their brightest. The hips should be firm when touched but have a slight cushion to them when squeezed.
Don’t harvest your rose hips until after the first frost has passed. Like root vegetables, frost tends to make the rose hips more desirable.
When you’re ready to harvest, gently pluck them from the plant. You can refrigerate the hips if you’re planning on using them immediately.
If you’d like to enjoy the rose hips in the months to come, place them in a freezer bag and freeze them. Not only will the rosa rugosa plant provide beauty in places many plants can’t, but it will also supply a product that many gardeners enjoy.
Gardeners love the rosa rugosa plant for a variety of reasons. Enjoy the journey with growing this easy-going plant and potentially learning how to appreciate its harvest too.