Learn About Rugosa Roses

Posted in: Other Fruits
Learn About Rugosa Roses

How To Sow    How To Grow    Tips    Common Pests    FAQ

How to Plant Rosa Rugosa

Planting Bare Root Plants:

  • Choose a location in full sun with well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. Rugosas can survive in sandy or poor soil. Avoid planting where bushes will compete with the roots of trees or large shrubs.
  • Soak the roots in water for 24 hours before planting. If you cannot plant right away, moisten the packing material around the roots and keep plants in a cool location until you are ready to plant.
  • Dig the holes about one foot deeper than the plants will be set and fill with a mixture of compost and soil. Make sure the hole is large enough to fit the roots without bunching.
  • Trim off very long or broken roots.
  • Place the crown of each rose on a mound and spread its roots.
  • Back fill the hole and gently tamp down the soil. Transplants need good root-to-soil contact. Do not press too hard because that can cause soil compaction and root damage.
  • Gently water deeply around the root ball to settle the soil and drive out air pockets.
  • Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.

How to Grow

  • Growing rosa rugosa flowerRugosa roses require little care and thrive on neglect.
  • Keep weeds under control during the rosa rugosa growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Keep plants moist but not wet until vigorous growth is underway. Do not water as frequently after early September unless the soil is very dry.
  • Fertilize sparingly using a slow release organic fertilizer.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Rugosa roses are remarkably disease resistant.
  • Prune to remove dead or broken branches. Remove the oldest canes to ensure bloom.
  • Mulch after the ground freezes in fall to prevent root damage from alternating freezing and thawing.

Rosa Rugosa Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Rosa rugosa produces the largest and sweetest rose hips. They are the sweetest right after the first frost.
  • Remove the hips from the stem of the plant; hips should be firm but have a little give. The color should be bright red. Avoid hips that are wrinkled, soft or not the right color. They should be discarded or left on the plants as a treat for birds.
  • Open the hips and remove the seeds (the hairy substance on the seed can cause irritation).
  • Hips may be used for fresh eating, or made into jams or they can be dried for tea.
  • Dried hips may be refrigerated or frozen.

How to Direct Sow Seeds

Common Disease Problems

Black Spot: A fungal disease that affects the leaves. It usually occurs during hot, humid or rainy summers. Black circular leaves appear on the upper and underside of leaves. The outer margins of the circles are ragged. The spots can enlarge and merge. The leaves often fall off the plant and the plant may be defoliated. Burpee Recommends: Remove all debris from under the plants. Avoid getting the leaves wet. A mulch under the plants will prevent spores from splashing up. Rosa rugosa is very tolerant of black spot.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning.

Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plant parts. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Garden pestAphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Deer: Plants may be eaten to the ground. Burpee Recommends: Try a deer repellent or physical barrier for young plants.

Scale: Small bugs look like brown, black, gray to white bumps on the stems of plants. Scale may not have any apparent legs and may not move. Scales have a sucking mouth part. Scale may produce honeydew so leaves and stems may be sticky. Scale can weaken the plant causing it to grow very slowly and may wilt at the middle of the day. Burpee Recommends: Completely spray the stems with Insecticidal soap.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap.


When will I get fruit? You should begin to get fruit the second year after planting. If your plants bloom the first year, it is best to remove the flowers to keep the strength in the plant.

What parts are edible of the Rosa rugosa? The rose hips as well as the rose petals are edible.

How do I get more flowers during the summer? To get more flowers through the summer months, remove the spent blooms. If you do this, however, you will sacrifice the first crop of hips. Stop deadheading in late summer to let the hips form in the fall.

Can I plant Rosa rugosa at the seashore? Yes they tolerate wind and salt spray. Their tolerance to salt also makes them ideal for planting close to the street where they may get exposed to road salt as well.

I sprayed my Rosa rugosa with a pesticide or fertilizer and now all the leaves are falling off what do I do? Rosa rugosa does not tolerate its leaves being sprayed by chemicals; do not spay the leaves. Fortunately Rosa rugosa is very disease and insect tolerant and usually does not need to be treated.

October 29, 2021
©2023 W.Atlee Burpee & Co