Those who plant wild roses in the garden can enjoy their five-fold flowers and deep red fruits – the rose hips. We give tips on successfully planting and caring for wild roses.
Rose hips are the tasty and extremely healthy fruits of wild roses. We explain the main steps for planting rose hips and how to care for them afterward.
Rose hip: origin and characteristics
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The large genus of roses ( Rosa ) includes wild and also cultivated, double rose species from years of breeding work. They all belong to the rose family, which also includes the apple tree ( Malus x Domestica ) and the strawberry ( Fragaria ).
Different types of roses without double flowers and with edible fruits, the so-called rose hips, are called “wild roses”. As originally with all rose plants, they have five petals. Many wild rose blossoms also exude a delicate to bewitching scent.
In contrast to many of the double cultivated roses, they are not sterile and, after pollination, develop flat-round to lemon-shaped fruits. When ripe they become soft in late autumn and mostly turn deep red, which attracts numerous birds. In return for the welcome winter food, they spread the numerous seeds of the wild rose in the landscape.
In general, the appearance of wild roses is very variable. Basically, wild roses are among the shrubs, which is why they are also known as “rosehip bushes”. However, some species can get very high and can be grown as climbing roses. In our special article, you will find an overview of the most beautiful wild rose species and their requirements in terms of location and soil.
Planting rose hips: location and procedure
A wild rose in the garden is not only an optical ornament but also provides food and shelter for pollinating insects, birds, and small mammals. It should therefore not be missing in natural gardens.
Wild roses can be planted as a hedge, individually, in groups, or over a large area to secure embankments. There are many different types of rosehip bushes, each of which prefers different locations. Originally they were found on the edges of forests, in wild hedges, and on species-rich meadows. The ideal location for rose hips is therefore sunny to partially shaded.
Basically, wild roses are adaptable and also grow on poor, rather dry soils. The pH value should be between slightly acidic to slightly calcareous, depending on the species. However, wild roses do not tolerate waterlogging and they quickly die from root rot. A medium-heavy, well-drained soil is therefore usually the best choice.
The best time to plant wild roses is in late autumn between October and the end of November. The hardy shrubs now go into hibernation and only form roots until spring. By the time the leaves shoot in the following spring, they have already grown somewhat and can supply themselves with water and nutrients.
Alternatively, you can plant in early spring before the leaves shoot at the beginning of March, but watering must be increased in hot summers.
The pretty rose hip bushes usually require a lot of space in terms of width. You should get a distance of 2 – 4 m to other plants. Rose bushes are planted with bare roots or as a container plant with the root ball. Bare-rooted plants should be used as quickly as possible so that the sensitive roots do not suffer from drought and solar radiation.
Loosen the soil well and then dig sufficiently large planting holes. If necessary, you can mix the excavated earth with a little compost. Injured or weak shoots are cut out with sharp secateurs and all shoots are shortened to 20-30 cm in length. This promotes good branching and bushy growth. Now put the wild roses in, but do not plant the bushes deeper than they were already in the ground. Since the wild rosehip roses do not have a sensitive refinement point, they do not have to be set deeper or piled up. Finally, fill up with soil, compress the substrate around the plant, and then water vigorously once.
Can you plant rose hips in a pot? With the right species, you can grow wild roses in the tub. The bushy species that remain small, such as sand rose (Rosa Carolina ), vinegar rose ( Rosa gallica ), cinnamon rose ( Rosa majalis ) or shiny rose ( Rosa nitida ) are particularly suitable for this.
Caring for wild roses
The amount of care required for wild roses is limited, as they get by with a limited supply of nutrients and usually only have to be cut. Caution is advised here because the shoots are often covered with numerous pointed to curved spines. Popularly these are incorrectly referred to as thorns.
Water and fertilize wild roses
Once they are well rooted, wild roses in the garden hardly need to be watered. In the first year after planting, however, it should be watered regularly in hot and dry times. Depending on the location of the wild rose, single fertilization in spring with a little compost or a predominantly organic long-term fertilizer, for example with our organic rose fertilizer, is usually sufficient.
The fertilizer granulate, specially adapted to the needs of roses, slowly and gently releases the nutrients it contains over a period of weeks. Work the long-term fertilizer into the surface around the rose bush and then water well to stimulate the decomposition of the granules. On poor soils, or if symptoms of deficiency such as yellowing of the leaves are already apparent, second fertilization should be carried out after about three months.
On the other hand, wild roses in pots need regular watering and fertilization all year round. The nutrients in the potting soil are used up after a few months and must be supplied from outside. When planting the rosehip bushes in the planter or when repotting, a mainly organic slow-release fertilizer should therefore be added to the substrate. After three months, second fertilization is carried out here too, which provides your wild roses with all the important nutrients for the rest of the year.
Pruning wild roses: instructions and timing
Wild roses are basically easy to care for and only need little or no cutting. As a rule, it is sufficient to lightly thin out your wild roses in spring or summer. However, they are very cut compatible and reliably sprout again even after a strong cut. Therefore, they can also be used as hedges. These wild rose hedges should be cut once a year in spring so that they become more branched and opaque.
If the wild roses grow too tall or overgrow, they can be cut back deeply in early spring between March and April. The same applies to older rose bushes, which over time have become bald inside. A strong tapering cut of the shoots to about 50 centimeters promotes new growth and ensures that your wild rose forms many flowers and rose hips again.
Propagate wild roses
Wild roses are propagated from the seeds of the rose hips. They are cold germs, so they need a long cold period to germinate. In autumn you can remove the seeds from the fruits and sow about two centimeters deep in pots filled with soil. Now put the pots outside for the winter. In spring, after the winter cold spell, the first seeds will begin to germinate and develop tender shoots. After a few weeks, you can move the robust, young wild roses into pots or directly into the bed.
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Alternatively, genuine cuttings from young, unwooded shoots can be cut from existing wild rose bushes in summer. They should be about 10 – 15 cm long and after removing the leaves, they are put into moist potting soil that is poor in nutrients and half of which is enriched with sand. Organic herb and seed-soil is particularly suitable for the vegetative propagation of wild roses. It stores moisture after watering and releases it again when necessary so that the cuttings are prevented from drying out. In a light, shady spot at room temperature, the young wild rose shoots will soon form roots. These young rosehip bushes can be planted out in autumn as they are completely hardy.
Harvest and use rose hips
The harvest time for the rose hips begins in mid-October. Depending on the type, the fruits slowly become soft and mushy until winter. Now they can be harvested and enjoyed fresh or processed. Rosehip jam, puree, cider, or wine are particularly popular, as are liqueurs. Leaves and fruits can be made into aromatic teas when dry.
Further information on the ingredients and possible uses of the rosehip can be found in our article “Rosehip: 7 questions and answers about the fruit of the wild rose“.