Rugosa Roses: What Are They And How To Care For Them

Rugosa Roses: What Are They And How To Care For Them


Big, colorful flouncy petals and incredible fragrance, the hardy Beach Rose is widely regarded as one of many gardeners' favorite landscaping Rose bushes! Butterflies, birds, and pollinators love rugged Rugosa Roses for their fragrance, size, sturdy growth, large fluttering petals, and ornamental Rose Hips! That’s what sets the Rugosa apart from the rest!

Their name was earned because the toothy pinnate leaves are heavily veined, appearing wrinkled, hence the name "rugose" which means wrinkled. The common names include Beach Rose, Sea Tomato, Salts Spray Rose, and Sea Rose, all of which harken to these ornamental plant's ability to handle salt spray and saline coastal conditions!

The Rugosa Rose originated in eastern Asia, China, Japan, and Korea and was introduced to North America as early as the 1700 -1800s. and is widely used as a flowering ornamental plant!

Let's dive into learning more about these gorgeous garden additions!

The Prettiest Beach Bum!

Extremely cold hardy, with some varieties handling down to USDA growing zones 2 and 3, but handling up to zones 7 to 9 heat and humidity!

Bee in a rugosaGardeners have access to a wide variety of Rugosa cultivars and many flower colors - including pink, red, purple, white, and yellow! With both single and double-flowering varieties. Flowering freely from early summer through fall, you’ll be treated to a show almost all growing season. Then once the colorful Hips arrive, you’ll enjoy fall and winter interest too!

Many of these thorny Shrub Roses have incredibly fragrant flowers, so they are ideal for cut flower bouquets - just wear gloves when you do! Each bloom is festooned with a center full of golden anthers for an additional showy accent! The sheer volume of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators that will make your landscape their favorite place to roam is mind-boggling!

In the autumn, as the crinkly textured green leaves begin to fade, Rugosa Roses produce very colorful "Rose Hips". While birds adore the seeds in the hips and you will love the winter interest they lend to the landscape.

Plus you get to enjoy fantastic fall colors in yellow, bronze, to orange hues to add to the showy Rose Hip display each autumn!

Our Favorite Rugosas At Nature Hills Nursery

Check out the qualities that each of these flowering shrubs bring to the landscape!

  • The most fragrant of the Rugosa (and maybe of all Roses) is the Blanc Double de Coubert Rugosa Rose! Featuring semi-to-fully double blooms, these perfume the entire area!
  • Pink RugosaThe Pink Rugosa Rose has the traditional Wild Rose look, fragrance, and single-petalled hot pink blooms! Hardy from zones 3 to 9, these are incredibly adaptable and versatile! Its counterpart, the White Rugosa has brilliant white blooms and cold-hardy down to zone 2, and features the classic English Rose scent!
  • The Hansa Hybrid Rugosa Rose a double deep pink romantic ruffled bloom Hansa is a fan favorite because of its huge, flouncy blooms with a sweet-spicy fragrance!
  • The brilliant green foliage and spicy sweet blooms of the F. J. Grootendorst Hybrid Rugosa Rose bring everything you like about Rugosa in a more compact 3-4 foot size! The full blooms have a slight serrated edge for added interest.
  • The delightful soft rose-hued Therese Bugnet Rugosa Rose is a taller Canadian offering that are highly fragrant. The soft double blooms can range from red-violet to pale pink, for a varied look when in bloom!
  • The elegant Belle Poitevine Rugosa Rose is a soft magenta Belle Poitevine Rugosablush double bloom with flowers up to 4 inches across! Its orange and yellow fall color is only outdone by its orange-red hips in the fall! Grown on its own root, Belle Poitevine can freeze back to the ground and spring back to full size each year!
  • Topaz Jewel Rugosa Rose is a mellow soft topaz yellow with double blooms that fade to nearly white at the end of their bloom. Strong canes vary in size and it's one of the few that do not make Rose Hips.

Rugosa Beach Roses In The Garden

Where is the best place to plant Rugosa Roses?

These beautiful plants require no special care, but add so much to a naturalistic garden landscape as flowering workhorses and natural focal points! Rugosa Rose shrubs are widely used in landscaping because they are tough and trouble-free! Create easy-going hedges and privacy installations, dividing property in a pretty manner! 

Useful as a barrier planting because of the thorny canes that few on two or four legs desire to tangle with! Even after the leaves drop in the fall, those thorns stick around to make trespassers think twice all year round!

The Beach Rose's salt tolerance means they are great to use alongside roads where deicing is regularly used! Coastal seaside gardens, roadside installations, and beach-front property again an informal summer-to-fall blooming Rose! Tolerating lower moisture locations, fast-draining sand, and hot sun gardens.

Rugosa Roses In The Garden Infographic

You can use these bountiful blooms in pampered Cottage garden settings as easily as Rock Gardens and out-of-the-way areas! Showy enough for a driveway circle garden, front berm, or a row screening your front yard from the street, the Rugosa Rose fits into any landscape clique!

While large enough to hold its own as a big accent plant, Rugosa looks equally good as backdrops and screening hedges! Their ability to form pretty colonies aids their ability to fill in large areas, mass plantings, and property division barriers.

In a more utilitarian sense, Rugosa are fantastic for holding sandy banks and slowing eroding slopes and hillsides. Transform that hard-to-mow hill into a shining specimen planting, slow wind or block drifting snow in key areas around your property, and give all the wildlife and birds a place to take shelter!

Do Rugosa Roses spread?

Rugosa can sucker and create small thickets when allowed, forming wildlife-friendly shelterbelts, groupings, and naturalized groves! The heavily thorned branches give this Rose species some fairly good deer tolerance and grow fast enough to recover if the deer do have a nibble.

Rose Hips

Healthy Rose Hips

Not only beneficial for birds and super showy in bouquets, but Rose Hips are also fantastic for us!

You can eat the sour-tasting cherry-tomato-sized fruit, but it is tastier to use them in cooking and preserves. Prized for their high Vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory qualities.

These round red to orange fruits can be dried in seasonal fresh bouquets and dried floral arrangements in addition to being great for your tea, jams, and jellies! These can be used in cooking and Rose Water and Rose Hip oil is a prized medicinal and beauty ingredient for moisturizing skin and slowing the aging process!

Caring For Rugosa Roses

These Sea Roses have great cold tolerance and are virtually pest-free. Growing best throughout USDA planting zones 3 to 8! Roses need full sun, at least 6 hours of sunlight a day for the most flowers, the best coloration, and the strongest canes.

Rugosa Roses prefer rich, well-drained soil with pH levels around 5.6 to 6.5. But, these Roses are very forgiving and can tolerate poor soil, and heavy (well-drained) clays and take lots of abuse and neglect. They are very forgiving for busy and new gardeners!

Pruning RosesPruning Rugosa Roses

Rugosa Roses can be pruned based on how large you want the shrubs to be. Rosa rugosa thrives on neglect, they do need a bit more maintenance if you want to include them in a more formal setting.

  • Prune Beach Roses almost to ground level in the spring to keep them in the 2-3 foot range.
  • Or, if you want to maintain these Roses taller in the 3-5 foot range, then simply Renewal prune out the oldest tallest canes and allow the thinner younger canes to remain in place. This lets your Rose grow larger but doesn’t deny you and your birds of any Hips in the winter.
  • Rugosa tends to sucker when happy, so remove these from the base of the plant in the early spring for a tidier shrub.
  • Read more about caring for Roses in the winter in our Garden Blog!

Do Rugosa Roses need deadheading?

There is no need to deadhead your Roses, as more flowers will emerge after, and deadheading will remove those showy Rose Hips! So put those shears down for now!

How do you winterize a Rugosa Rose?

Winter protection will help protect the long canes, crowns, and roots. Wait until the leaves have died and fallen away, raking them away from the area and disposing of them to prevent future cross-contamination.

Mound clean leaves, mulch, and/or compost around the base or create a large chicken wire cage to fill loosely with leaves in especially cold sites subjected to the icy northern winds. Read more about winterizing Roses, and un-wintering Roses in our Garden Blog!

Get Hip To Rugosa Beach Roses At Nature Hills Nursery!

With everything you love about Roses on a grand scale, the showy and fragrant Rugosa never lets you down! Find out just how rewarding and easy it is to grow these garden beauties by checking out all the Rugosa Roses available at Nature Hills today!

Happy Planting!

Shop Rugosa Roses

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