Rugosa roses are easy to grow plants perfect for tough landscapes. Gardeners who like naturalized gardens will find wild shrub roses low maintenance plants.
Rosa rugosa plants are sometimes called wild shrub roses for the woolly disheveled look that can occur when growing in naturalized landscapes. But, rugosa roses are worth a consideration because they are easy to grow low maintenance plants that bloom profusely all summer.
Easy to Grow Rugosa Roses
Of all roses, Rosa rugosa plants are the hardiest, from zones 2 – 9, depending on the cultivar. It is definitely a choice for the northern gardener.
This rose tolerates a wide range of soils as long as it has good drainage. Rugosa roses can withstand salt spray, some shade and is semi-drought tolerant after established in a landscape.
Naturalized Gardens with Wild Roses
Rosa rugosa is not a native plant in the United States but does grow well in naturalized gardens. When dried flower heads are not removed from the plant, large reddish orange rose hips will develop. These make excellent fall and winter interest in the garden. The thick mass of these rose bushes will also attract pollinating bees and birds that value the nesting environment. In addition, many types of Rosa rugosa have fall colors ranging from yellow to orange to red.
The rugosa rose plant generally grows 4’ – 6’ tall and 8’ wide requiring a large garden space. The shrub is excellent for mass planting and coastal locations. Large blooms cover the plant from early summer to fall. The flowers have a fragrant sweet scent.
Growing Rosa Rugosa Plants
The rugosa rose plant develops into a large rounded shrub. The foliage has strong structure with leaves having deeply textured veining. The stems are green when young turning brown as they age and are covered with sharp thorns. This characteristic makes wearing gloves while pruning necessary, however also deters rabbits and deer from foraging.
Like all roses they grow best in full sun. Although susceptible to common rose plant aliments, rugosa rose toughness allows them to thrive without chemical spraying. This makes them an appropriate rose plant for organic gardens.
Rosa Rugosa Alba and Rubra
Both the Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ and ‘Rubra’ grow 6’ – 7’ tall and wide over a 10 year time span. Each has very fragrant single petal flowers 2” – 3” in diameter. These rose plants are hardy zones 3 – 8.
Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ opens from long bluish pink buds to very white flowers. The large orange rose hips and yellowish orange fall color, especially after the first hard frost adds excellent fall and winter interest to the garden.
Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’ has flowers described equally as mauve, wine and crimson. The deep pink coloring is dramatic, especially as the reddish orange rose hips begin developing in late summer lasting through winter.
Rugosa roses are tough, easy to grow plants for a naturalized landscape where low maintenance is needed. For northern gardens, where hardiness is an issue, these wild shrub roses are a useful consideration.