Rose hips are the fruits produced by rose plants after the flowers die. Rose hips are coveted by many gardeners since they are completely edible. They can be used in all sorts of recipes, and are a great source of Vitamin C.
Some people even think they might have medicinal benefits, including the relief of arthritis symptoms. So how can you grow yourself a good crop of rose hips?
Well, look no further. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to grow and care for roses to get the best hips you can.
What Types of Roses Are Best For Hips?
Rugosa roses are often said to be the best roses to grow for edible hips. They produce the largest and best-tasting rose hips. They are also easy to grow, resistant to pests and disease, and very hardy to the cold. This makes them a plant almost any gardener can grow.
These roses do they have the potential to become an invasive species. So use some care when planting Rugosa roses, and don’t let them spread out of your property.
Since Rugosas are the best roses for hips, this guide will focus on how best to grow this type of roses. Much of the advice can apply to other types as well, but some of the details may be different, so if you have another type of roses, be sure to find out what the best care for them is.
Grow Guide: How to Grow and Care For Rugosa Roses
This will be a comprehensive guide for planting, growing, and caring for Rugosa roses, so you should have everything you need to start growing your own edible rose hips! First, we’ll talk about general growing conditions, then how specifically to care for the plants.
Best Growing Conditions For Rugosa Roses
Rugosas are very hardy to cold, which is part of what makes them such a great plant. They are hardy in U.S. zones 2-7, which means they can often withstand temperatures as low as -40° F!
These roses can also withstand heat, and will be ok up to 100°F (38°C) and maybe even more. While they can withstand extreme temperatures in both directions, they will have their best growth during times with more moderate temperatures. Anywhere between 40-80°F (4.5-26.5°C) should be the ideal range for these roses to have the best growth during the warm months.
As long as you live in one of these zones, the climate should be good for your roses. If it gets significantly hotter or colder than this, you may have to think about how to protect your plants from the temperature, or getting a different variety of roses.
Like most plants, Rugosas are best planted in the spring, after the danger of frost has passed. However, you can also plant them in the fall, at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost. This gives the rose plants time to get established before the cold sets in, so they can overwinter and be ready to grow in the spring.
When thinking about the spot to grow your roses, know they need full sun to partial shade. The more sun they get, the happier they’ll be. Some shade is tolerable, but too much of it might stunt their growth.
Also, know that these roses will need a lot of space. They can be anywhere between 4 and 8 feet tall, and 4 to 6 feet wide. When planting your roses, make sure to leave enough space for each plant to grow fully, giving them at least 6 feet in between each bush.
Make sure your roses have a rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. You can always get a soil testing kit to find out the pH of your soil, and make adjustments if necessary.
Lastly, fertilizer. As long as they’re given good growing conditions, most roses don’t need a lot of fertilizer to be successful. However, a little bit can be helpful. Using an organic slow-release fertilizer like this one can be good. You should only have to apply it once every growing season, and you won’t need a lot of it.
Caring for Rugosa Roses
Once you’ve found a good spot and applied your fertilizer, it’s time to plant your roses! Whether planting from a cutting or a plant you bought from the store, the care is mostly the same, although be aware that cuttings will take longer to reach maturity.
After you plant your roses, make sure the area around them stays clear of other plants. Having to compete for space both above and below ground can be detrimental to roses, so keep the area free from weeds and other potential bothers.
Watering roses is simple. Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet, until growth really takes off. Once the plants are growing quickly, you can start to water more, although you still want to avoid having waterlogged soil.
Later in the season, typically around the end of September, you’ll want to slow down on watering again. This is when the plant’s growth slows and the flower petals start to fall, so the plant won’t need as much water.
If the roses are at least a year old, pruning them back in the spring can be helpful to promote new growth. Be sure not to prune them during the cold months, as this can cause stress on the plants. Prune once temperatures have warmed again and the plant is ready to grow.
It may seem counterintuitive to prune roses in the spring, but it actually promotes good growth. By cutting some of the plant, you are making room for more sections to grow. Also, the cutting encourages the plant to grow even faster to repair itself, which leads to a boost in growth early in the season.
Pruning the roses is easy. Get a clean, sharp pair of garden shears and snip off the top 3 to 6 inches of some of the stems. Don’t cut all of the stems— no more than one-third of the plant. Again, doing this encourages new growth and more blooms later in the season.
And with all of that, you should be able to grow your own delicious rose hips! But how will you know they’re ready for harvest?
Harvesting Rose Hips
First off, how long will it be until rose hips are ready for harvest? Well, as temperatures begin to drop again— in mid to late fall, or sometimes even early winter— the rose petals will wilt and begin to fall off, leaving behind the bright, juicy rose hips.
This means that it will take roughly 5-6 months until the rose hips are ready to harvest. They may flower after only 3 or 4 months, sometimes later, but the hips won’t be fully ripe until temperatures drop more. New plants are likely to take longer to be ready for harvest than established ones, so keep that in mind when growing your rose hips.
These hips can be snipped practically as soon as the flowers fall off. However, giving them a bit more time to mature can be helpful. In fact, many gardeners wait until after the first light frost. A light frost can make the hips taste even sweeter.
Don’t wait too long, though, because a heavy frost could damage the hips. It’s best to harvest them after the first light frost, before temperatures get too low and the ground starts getting really solid.
Once the hips are ready, harvesting them is easy. Grab a pair of sharp, clean gardening shears. Carefully grab each hip, and snip it off the plant, as close to the base as you can. Try to avoid making unnecessary cuts, to help protect the plant for future years.
Now, you have delicious rose hips! There are all sorts of recipes you could add them to, or you could start with some simple rose hip tea. Whatever you decide, you have the satisfaction of knowing you grew something so good yourself.
You can read more in our article What Are Rose Hips And How To Eat Them.
Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
Rugosa roses are resistant to many forms of pests and diseases, which is part of why they are so easy to grow. However, like any plant, they can still get affected, and there are things you should keep an eye out for and try to prevent.
There are two common diseases that affect these rose plants: black spot and stem canker. Both are caused by fungal issues, but you should be able to treat and/or prevent them from seriously harming your roses.
Black spot, like its name suggests, shows up as black spots on the leaves of the plant. It is often caused by the plant’s leaves being too crowded or too wet. Try to make sure the leaves have space to breathe, and aren’t being crowded by other plants. When watering, try to avoid wetting the leaves as much as possible. You can also try a DIY Milk Spray like this one which is also used to treat powdery mildew.
Stem canker shows up as canker spots on the stems of your roses. As soon as they show up, they need to be cut away to avoid causing more damage. Again, use a clean, sharp pair of shears to cut each spot away 5 to 6 inches below the canker.
In terms of pests, the main issues are going to be aphids, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. Aphids aren’t usually too harmful, but if they are bothering you you can try spraying them off with a blast of water. Or introduce other bugs, like ladybugs or wasps, that will eat the aphids.
Japanese beetles and spider mites pose a more serious threat to your plants. Luckily, there are ways you can fight them off. Spraying the plant down daily can help knock the bugs off. You can also spray them with neem oil like this one, which won’t harm the plants but will help kill the bugs and prevent them from laying eggs.
Growing Your Own Edible Rose Hips
Rose hips are delicious and used for a great many things. And luckily, they’re fairly easy to grow! Follow these guidelines, provide them with the proper care, and you will have a wonderful crop of edible rose hips.