How to Plant a Rosa Rugosa


Rosa rugosas thrive in USDA plant-hardiness zones 3 through 7. Rugosa rose bushes grow 4 to 6 feet tall, with white, deep-pink and rose-pink blossoms appearing in late spring. The green leaves turn orange and yellow in fall, and bright-red rose hips hang from the branches. These fragrant roses are planted as barriers, borders, hedges, mass plantings and showcase pieces.

Step 1

Clear the planting area of weeds, brush and debris in a sunny location. Rugosa roses grow best without competition from other plants.

Step 2

Dig up the area to the depth of 12 inches with a shovel. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, rotted manure, peat moss or fine grain pine bark on top of the soil. This adds organic matter and will improve drainage.

Step 3

Add 3 pounds of superphosphate, which helps promotes root growth, for every 100 square feet of the planting area. Mix the soil amendments in with a shovel and rake the area smooth.

Step 4

Unwrap the rosa rugosa roots and prune off any damaged, dead or broken roots and canes with a pair of gardening shears. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for one hour.

Step 5

Dig a hole 15 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Place a small mound of soil in the center of the hole. Set the rose bush on top of the mound and spread the roots down the sides of the mound.

Step 6

Fill the hole halfway with soil to keep the rose bush in place. Add water to set the soil around the roots, then finish filling the hole with the rest of the soil. Mound 4 to 6 inches of soil around the rose bush. This prevents damage to the rose canes while the roots grow.

Step 7

Continue planting the other rosa rugosa bushes 18 to 30 inches apart. Apply a 2-inch layer of sawdust, wood chips or straw mulch around the base of each bush. Organic mulch reduces weed growth, conserves water and cools the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check the soil drainage before planting your rosa rugosas. These roses do not tolerate standing water, and they will suffer root rot and die.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Superphosphate
  • Rake
  • Rugosa rose bushes
  • Gardening shears
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Straw mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension: Rugosa Rose
  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Planting Roses
Keywords: plant rugosa roses, planting rosa rugosas, planting roses

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.