Rugosa Rose (Rugosa)

The Rugosa Rose (Rugosa) is generally described as a perennial subshrub. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Rugosa Rose (Rugosa) has green foliage and inconspicuous red flowers, with an abuncance of conspicuous red fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Rugosa Rose (Rugosa) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Rugosa Rose (Rugosa) will reach up to 5 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 5 feet.

The Rugosa Rose (Rugosa) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Traditionally used for its beautification qualities, rugosa rose’s value as an erosion control type plant has recently expanded to include sand dune stabilization. Its ability to withstand salt spray makes it a good choice to plant on sand dunes and roadsides. With its thorny stems, this shrub can be strategically established at locations to direct pedestrians between the sand dunes. The ripe fruits (hips) this plant produces are high in vitamin C, and can be made into teas, jams and jellies. To a lesser degree, this species offers some food and cover to deer, and small birds and mammals.

General Characteristics

This erect, many branched, introduced, leafy shrub will grow to a height of four or five feet. The deciduous compound leaves are dark green and lustrous. The stout stems are densely covered with fine thorns and develop colonies from underground stems after a few years. The two to three inch diameter flowers will range from white to purple. Single blooms emerge all summer long. The flowers give rise to tomato-like red hips which range in size from ½ inch to 1½ inch in diameter. Heavy fruiting usually begins the second year after establishment.

Required Growing Conditions

Rugosa rose is a native of China, but has a wide range of adaptability. Its best performance is on sandy, light textured soils, but it will do well on medium textured soils. This rose will not tolerate poorly drained sites. It is well adapted to coastal environments.

Rugosa rose is distributed primarily throughout the Northeast.

Cultivation and Care

For successful establishment on roadbanks and sand dunes, vegetative establishment techniques are required. One year old bare-root seedlings or rooted cuttings are typically adequate for planting most sites; but where establishment is critical, container-grown 1 year old plants are recommended. All potentially competing vegetation should be removed or controlled prior to planting, unless it is critical to site stability.For optimum nursery production, standard raised bed propagation techniques can be utilized. After soil temperatures reach the 40s in fall, but before dropping into the 30s, apply a maximum of 3 grams pure live seed (PLS) per square foot area of bed to attain adequate production of quality seedlings. For the over-winter period, these beds should be mulched. Time released fertilizers, applied in late spring, have yielded the best growth results under nursery environments. Hardwood cuttings harvested during the dormant season, placed in a heated bench, work well to start rooted cuttings.


Invasiveness This plant is considered noxious in some states. This plant may be invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed.

General Upkeep and Control

Periodic removal of older stems can improve the appearance of rugosa rose stands.

Environmental Concerns There is some concern that this rose is becoming naturalized at the expense of native species. Where native roses occur in local stands, rugosa rose should be used with discretion.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Many improved horticultural varieties are grown for beautification purposes. Only one cultivar has been selected and released specifically for use on sand dune stabilization. That cultivar is ‘Sandy’ (DE, MD, MA, NJ) which was released in 1992 by the Cape May PMC. ‘Sandy’ is a polycross of twelve separate collections. Foundation seed and seed orchard stock can be obtained by commercial nurseries from the Cape May PMC. This released conservation variety and others are available from various commercial nurseries for use by the public.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Subshrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 5
Vegetative Spread Moderate
Flower Color Red
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.5–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 34–34 inches/yr
Planting Density 1210–2700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 140 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Medium
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA