The ancestors of the family of the rugosa rose originated on the sandy beaches of northern China, Japan and Korea. They are grown and bred for their disease resistance, extreme hardiness in challenging climates and soils and for their sublime fragrance. They have been so extensively planted along most of the eastern seaboard of the United States, many people mistakenly believe them to be indigenous.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 10, 2008.)
'Blanc Double de Coubert'Rugosa
Rugosas have very healthy deep green foliage and can show fall colors in hues from yellow to burgundy. They are very versatile in the landscape and can be grown alone as individual plants in perennial borders. Or as a focal point in a perennial bed. They also make great hedges an can be easily shaped with a bit of judicious pruning. Rugosas do have thorns and a nobody will try to come though a hedge of these; the hedge will win.
The lowest growing span approximately 6 to 8 foot wide and some examples are 'Charles Albanel' (mauve/pink) and 'Henry Hudson' (white) Not a true groundcover, but very low-growing and spreading plant. Rugosas come in a large variety of colors and are continuous bloomers with large, multi-petaled flowers.
More about Rugosas
In addition to their recurrent blooms, most rugosas also set lots of rose hips in late summer that remain on the plant until spring. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose and are often very colorful and large -- some the size of crabapples! They are high in vitamin C and can be made into jams and jellies. They also make the most wonderful smelling potpourri.
One of the most important thing to know about rugosa roses is their sensitivity to liquid chemical fertilizers, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. Even with organic liquid fertilizers, rugosas can be sensitive to a sudden dose of nitrogen, especially when applied to dry soil. So, always, always make sure you apply liquid fertilizers to wet soil, not dry soil. Water first, then fertilize. This is a good thing to practice for all plants -- water first, then fertilize.
Other than their sensitivity to chemical fertilizers, these are tough roses. They have the best winter hardiness, next to roses species that are indigenous to cold climates. They are drought and salt tolerant, because they evolved along ocean shorelines where they were exposed to sandy, dry soil and salt spray. This tolerance is great for those who want to place a hedge of roses next to a road that gets salt in the wintertime.
Rugosas will generally send out suckers and slowly expand their range. You can dig these up and replant them in your garden or give them away to friends.
For those who want roses that are fragrant, vigorous, winter-hardy, disease-tolerant and bloom repeatedly throughout the summer, rugosas are a sure bet. I am planning on adding the 'Hansa', 'Therese Bugnet', and 'Wasagaming' to my own rose beds this year.
Rose Hip Jam (this recipe has been around since the 1700s) 1 pound prepared rose hips (about 4 quarts) 1 cup of water Sugar In a large pan, add the rose hips and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until very soft--about 20 minutes (add more water if necessary). Press or strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any seeds and to reduce large chunks of hips. Add one pound of sugar (about 3 1/2 cups) to one pound of pulp and simmer. Check the taste and add more sugar if desired. Cook until the mixture has thickened to jam-like consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. This is good to eat when you have a sore throat.
Rose Hip Puree (This is from an old 16th century recipe used to make ose hip tart) 1 1/2 cup prepared rose hips 3/4 cup water 2 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Simmer the prepared rose hips in water until soft -- about 10-15 minutes. Stir in sugar, spices and lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Use puree for tarts, ice cream toppings or to eat as a sauce.
Rose Hip Tea Prepare the rose hips as described above and place in a single layer on a drying screen. Allow to completely dry, then store in an air-tight jar in a cool, dark place. Hips may be used whole or slightly broken. Pour boiling water over the hips and allow to steep for 2 minutes. Strain.
Information for this article was gathered from areas of public domain and conversations with some of my fellow Master Gardener rosarians.
Credits: All the photos are courtesy of fellow members of Dave's Garden and can be found in PlantFiles.
The photo of the 'Hansa' rugosa is courtesy of fallingfeather, the 'Blanc Double de Coubert' and rose hips provided by philomel and the 'Henry Hudson' and 'Therese Bugnet' by Todd Boland.
Thank you all for taking the time to provide these photos of your lovely flowers to all of us.
About Catherine Smith
Hubby and I have been doing Organic Gardening off and on for over 25 years. Just finishing the Virginia Master Gardening classes at the end of Nov 07. I love talking and teaching gardening to anybody that will listen.