Hybrid Rugosa Roses
If any roses ever deserved the label "easy", surely it is
the hybrid rugosa roses. Indeed, in the northern half of the United
States, these roses set the standard against which all
others are measured. The ancestor of this class is a central Asian species,
Rosa rugosa. This is a rose that can withstand Siberian
winters and temperatures as low as -50°F (-45°C). In
addition to its tolerance for cold, this shrub is also
extraordinarily tolerant of salt and dry soil and has escaped from
cultivation to colonize beaches throughout New England.
The best rugosa hybrids have inherited not only their
wild ancestor's hardiness but also its glossy, furrowed
foliage. This is almost completely immune to fungal
diseases, and because these roses are notably pest resistant,
they are perfect for those who hate to spray.
These roses bloom throughout the summer, bearing
clove-scented midsize flowers that commonly run 2 1/2 - 3 1/2
in (6.4-8.9cm) across, though a few may spread to 4in
(10.2cm). This display is followed by a fall show of enormous,
tomato red hips
that contrast boldly with the yellow, reddish, or purplish foliage.
These dense, suckering, thorny shrubs make excellent
hedges and are ideal landscape shrubs for windy and
exposed sites. The compact cultivars integrate easily into
a flower border and when massed serve as a handsome
ground cover. Carefree and reliable throughout Canada and in the
Northeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, and
Northwest regions of the United States, hybrid rugosas
are less satisfactory in the Southwest and Southeast,
where they thrive only at higher altitudes or in less humid
- 'Belle Poitevine' Roses (Introduced - 1894)
- The flowers of 'Belle Poitevine' are fragrant and
semi-double, with twirled petals. Their coloring is somewhat
dependent on weather, ranging from rose pink to magenta
pink, with lighter colors more prevalent under sunny skies.
In fall, the plump orange-red hips create a colorful display
against the deeply veined, leathery, dark green foliage.
The vigorous plants are nicely shaped, often as broad as
they are tall. This rose makes a good choice for a large hedge.
Like other hybrid rugosa roses, this rose is very hardy, disease resistant, and
easy to grow. This rose also tolerates seaside conditions.
- 'Blanc Double de Coubert' Roses (Introduced - 1892)
- This hybrid rugosa blooms heavily early in the season,
with scattered blossoms in summer and fall. Flowers are
semi-double, 2 to 3 inches wide, and very fragrant. Petals
are pure white with a delicate tissue-paper-like texture that
contrasts with the crinkled, dark, leathery leaves. Canes
are gray, and in fall large orange-red hips are produced.
Plants are typically as broad as they are tall and require a
lot of room. Extremely vigorous, they often send out
suckers several feet from the plant base. The rose is effective as a
hedge, in large beds, and as a specimen. One of the best
hybrid rugosas, 'Blanc Double de Coubert' is extremely
hardy, resistant to both diseases and insects, and
tolerates sandy soil and salt spray, making it a good choice for
- 'Delicata' Roses (Introduced - 1898)
- The bright pink to mauve flowers of 'Delicata' rose are semi-double,
containing 18 to 24 petals, and open to a width of
3 to 3 1/2 inches. Scented like cloves, the blooms appear in
abundance early in the season and repeat until fall. Large
orange-red hips follow the blooms and are present at
the same time as later flowers-which may create an
objectionable color combination for some.
Plants are low growing compared with other hybrid
rugosas, and they have a compact, well-branched habit.
Rarely over 3 feet in height, they are useful garden shrubs.
Like other members of this class, 'Delicata' rose is extremely
hardy, disease resistant, and tolerant of seaside conditions.
- 'Fimbriata' Roses (Introduced - 1891)
- The blossoms of this shrub do not look like those of the
typical rugosa; in fact, they do not look like roses at all, but
instead resemble pale pink carnations. But 'Fimbriata' is a typical
rugosa in its toughness, for this shrub tolerates not only extreme
cold but also poor soils and light shade. It isn't just disease
resistant; it's virtually disease free.
The spicily perfumed blossoms, clean foliage, and dense,
relatively compact growth make 'Fimbriata' an excellent accent in a
perennial border. Its hardiness and adaptability make this shrub a
good choice for the northern gardener with a challenging site.
- 'F.J. Grootendorst' Roses (Introduced - 1918)
- 'F. J. Grootendorst' rose produces clusters of up to 20 small,
scentless, crimson flowers throughout the growing
season. Individual blooms are double and have a carnation like
appearance with fringed petals. The abundant foliage
is somewhat coarse, leathery, and dark green. This rose has
given rise to several sports, including 'Pink Grootendorst',
which has soft pink flowers; 'White Grootendorst', whose
white blooms are borne on a considerably smaller plant;
and 'Grootendorst Supreme', whose blossoms are lightly
scented and a deeper red than those of its parent.
This rugosa hybrid is a vigorous grower with a bushy, upright habit.
This rose is easy to grow, tolerant of seaside conditions,
and disease resistant.
- 'Frau Dagmar Hartopp' Roses (Introduced - 1914)
- This compact rugosa is an ideal candidate for a smaller garden.
Its clove-scented, light pink, single flowers open to reveal knots
of golden stamens at their centers, and they recur throughout the
summer. Indeed, this rose is seldom out of bloom through the
warm-weather months and usually is heavily laden with flowers. In
fall, the flowers give way to large, tomato red hips as the leaves rum
orange or yellow. To ensure a good crop of hips and the best
autumn display, plant another rugosa rose such as the species type
Rosa rugosa alba or R. rugosa rubra nearby, as cross-pollination increases
the fruit production of 'Frau Dagmar Hartopp'.
- 'Hansa' Roses (Introduced - 1905)
- 'Hansa' is a large, vigorous rugosa with very thorny canes. It
creates an effective barrier hedge, but you may find it too
attractive to relegate to the edges of the garden, for this rose also makes a
fine specimen in the herb garden. 'Hansa' is particularly compatible
with herbs because, unlike most roses, it thrives in the dry, sandy
soils that most herbs prefer. Yet 'Hansa' doesn't object to a richer
soil, and it flourishes well in the perennial border. Its large, double,
reddish purple flowers have a strong, spicy scent, bloom freely
through the season, and in fall are followed by large, orange-red
hips. The foliage is typically wrinkled and glossy green.
- 'Henry Hudson' Roses (Introduced - 1976)
- One of the many fine roses introduced by Agriculture Canada,
'Henry Hudson' can be counted on for hardiness and color.
Its flowers are large, semi-double, and white with a tuft of golden
stamens at the center throughout most of the summer, though fall's
cooler weather may stain them with a touch of pink. The fragrance
of the flowers is classic rugosa: a spicy clove perfume. The foliage is
also typical of the class -small to midsize and deeply furrowed.
This dense, low-growing shrub is a perfect choice for a
long blooming hedge that requires no trimming, but it also holds its own
quite successfully as a specimen shrub. Like all the Agriculture
Canada introductions, 'Henry Hudson' roots readily from
and grows well on its own roots.
- 'Jens Munk' Roses (Introduced - 1974)
- Another hybrid from Agriculture Canada, 'Jens Munk' has the
same toughness and recurrent bloom as 'Henry Hudson', but
with large, double blooms of a clear medium pink. Gilding the
center of each rose is a knot of threadlike golden stamens. As an
additional attraction, 'Jens Munk' offers a strong, spicy perfume. The
foliage is medium green and clean. This rose is quick to establish
itself after transplanting, soon forming a substantial, well-rounded
shrub even in a challenging site. Its only flaws are a susceptibility to
stem girdler and a paucity of hips. Despite these
drawbacks, 'Jens Munk' makes a fine specimen plant as well as a tall and
- 'Linda Campbell' Roses (Introduced - 1990)
- This compact shrub was created by crossing a hybrid rugosa
with a miniature rose; fortunately, 'Linda Campbell' inherited
its rugosa parent's disease resistance and cold hardiness. Unlike
most red rugosa roses, whose flowers generally tend toward mauve
or purplish, 'Linda Campbell' has pure red blossoms. Borne in large,
impressive sprays throughout the summer and into the fall, these
flowers are cupped and double; their only defect is a lack of
fragrance. The foliage is dark green and semi-glossy, and the shrub is
bushy and upright. This is a first-rate rose for a hedge or for use as
a landscape shrub, foundation planting, or specimen shrub.
- 'Max Graf' Roses (Introduced - 1919)
- Although the single pink flowers of 'Max Graf' are somewhat
modest-looking, they are borne in large clusters rather late in
the season, when most other roses are past the peak of their first
flush of blooms. 'Max Graf' has been widely used as a
low-maintenance ground cover along highways and in urban areas, where it
thrives in the most miserable growing conditions. Given the more
friendly conditions found in the average garden, the large, dark
green, slightly glossy leaves provide an elegant backdrop for other
plantings or the shrub's own blossoms.
- 'Roseraie De L'Hay' Roses (Introduced - 1901)
- The long, pointed, scrolled buds of 'Roseraie de L'Hay'
open to deep crimson blossoms with cream-colored
stamens and age to a magenta pink. Flowers are 4 1/2 to 5
inches across and semi-double, with loosely arranged,
folded petals. The blooms are very fragrant. Few hips are
produced. Foliage is dense and apple green, with vibrant
color in the fall.
Like other hybrid rugosa roses, this vigorous rose is a tough
plant with good disease resistance, and it tolerates a wide
range of soils and seaside conditions. Its repeating blooms
and attractive foliage make it an excellent choice for
mixed shrub plantings or hedges.
- 'Rotes Meer' Roses (Introduced - 1984)
- Whether as 'Rotes Meer' or 'Purple Pavement', this new rugosa
is winning an increasing following. It refutes a long-standing
criticism of the rugosa hybrids that however hardy they might be,
they are simply too large to fit into smaller gardens or even the
more intimate areas of larger landscapes. 'Rotes Meer', however,
makes a dense, neat dome just 3 ft (0.9m) high and wide and is compact enough
for even a postage-stamp garden. This rose serves equally
well as a border accent, a compact landscape shrub, or material for
a low hedge. The foliage is dean and crisp, and the fragrant, double,
deep violet-crimson flowers with contrasting golden stamens are
borne more or less continuously throughout the summer and into
the fall. Indeed, its autumn display may be its most remarkable, for
new flowers continue to open even as the red hips fatten and ripen.
- 'Rugosa Magnifica' Roses (Introduced - 1905)
- The deep red-purple to lavender petals of repeat-blooming
'Rugosa Magnifica' rose surround golden yellow stamens. The
fragrant blooms are double and are followed by abundant
large orange-red hips. Foliage is dense.
This shrub is a very vigorous grower with a wide-spreading habit.
This rose is good in mixed-shrub plantings, as a
specimen, or as a hedge. Like other hybrid rugosas, this rose is
extremely hardy and disease resistant, adapts to a wide
range of soils, and tolerates seaside conditions.
- 'Snow Owl' Roses (Introduced - 1989)
- 'Snow Owl' is the fragrant, white-flowered sibling of 'Rotes
Meer'. It has the same compact growth, and it is well covered
with foliage, dense and spreading. It produces flat, 3 in (7.5cm),
semi-double (10-15 petals) blooms freely throughout the season. In
autumn, the blossoms give way to attractive orange-scarlet hips.
Both 'Snow Owl' and 'Rotes Meer' belong to a series of roses
called the "pavement roses", which were developed for roadside
plantings. To succeed in such a situation, these roses had to
demonstrate a tolerance for both heat and intense cold, as well as for
drought, poor soils, and salt spray. These characteristics make the
pavement roses outstanding choices not only for planting along a
sidewalk or driveway but also for seaside gardens and for the
demanding climate of the Upper Midwest and southern prairies
and high-altitude regions of the Rocky Mountain West.
- 'Thérèse Bugnet' Roses (Introduced - 1950)
- This Canadian rose has the hardiness one expects of a rose that
thrives practically up into the Canadian North. But
'Thérèse Bugnet' offers much more than just persistence. This rose bears clusters of
pointed, deep pink buds in spring that open into bouquets of large,
ruffled, double flowers of bright lilac-pink. After a prolonged first
flush of flowers, this rose reblooms at a more modest pace, but
reliably, until the end of the growing season. Its crop of hips is sparse,
but 'Therese Bugnet' offers as consolation a fine fall foliage show, as
its blue-green foliage turns a rich red. This rose is incredibly hardy, flowers for weeks,
and is friendly as a cut flower because the upper part of the stems
is almost thornless.