Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Care for Wild Rose Bushes

Wild rose bushes are some of the easiest flowers to grow, assuming the variety of wild rose bush you are growing is native to your area. They require little care and virtually no fuss, unlike other types of roses. While wild rose bushes don’t have the complex blooms of hybrids, they also need no fertilizer or pesticides to keep them growing beautifully. Most of the time you don’t even need to prune wild roses, unless you want to keep them in check, of course.

Choose a variety of wild rose native to your area or native to a climate similar to yours. There are many varieties of wild rose bushes that will thrive in almost any environment.

Choose a spot in your yard to plant the wild rose bush. Make sure it is in full sun, as roses like all the sun they can get. Well drained soil is also a plus.

Plant your wild rose bush. Dig a hole as deep as the planter the wild rose bush came in, around a foot deep and 1-2 feet wide. Place the wild rose bush in the hole, cover with soil and pat down. You may add top soil if you wish.

Water your wild rose bush about once or twice a week for 5 minutes each watering.

Prune your wild rose bush in early spring when the leads are hard. Trim off any dead leads or any excess growth you don't want. Leave the rest of the bush wild.

Differences Between Roses & Wild Rose Bushes

Fossilized specimens from Oregon and Colorado resemble nutka roses (Rosa nutkana) or swamp roses (Rosa palustris), both of which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3b through 10b. Wild roses, including rugosa roses (Rosa rugosa), which grow in USDA zones 2b to 9b; China roses (Rosa chinensis) for USDA zones 7b through 10b; and dog roses (Rosa canina), which grow in USDA zones 6b to 9b, occur in every temperate zone. The reproductive portions of wild roses, including stamens and rose hips, are more prominent than those of hybrids because these plants depend on them to reproduce. Foraging birds and browsing animals favor wild roses by distributing seeds and providing natural pruning -- services that would soon decimate a bed of cultivated hybrids. Different flowering times prevent wild roses from cross-pollinating, preserving each species individual characteristics. Introduced hybrids, on the other hand, cross easily with with wild roses. The accidental results of a species China rose crossing with a hybrid Damask rose (Rosa damascena) on the Ile de Bourbon (now Reunion) in the early 19th century are the beloved Bourbon roses, which combine the China rose's repeat-flowering habit with strong damask rose fragrances. If you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 2b through 10b, you can grow species and hybrid roses or see wild roses in wilderness areas. It's important you choose roses suited to your local climate.


Henry Hudson, John Franklin and Henry Kelsey are all very cold resistant wild rose varieties, hardy to Zone 4.


Wild rose bushes look best if left to their own devices and allowed to grow wild. If you want something with a more manicured appearance, plant tea roses.

Garden Guides