Monday, December 3, 2007

Rugosa-One Tough Rose for the North

Rugosa roses, what more can be said about this lovely old fashioned rose? They are sweetly scented, easy to maintain and require no spraying or pruning (at least in my experience), and as a bonus they bloom for a very long time. Even after the bloom has passed great orange red rose hips remain for wildlife to snack upon.

This lovely rugosa rose is growing in mother's front yard in Maine. Feeling as I feel, that gardens are meant to be shared, remind us of others, and provide a connection to the past and future, I just had to have a rugosa in my garden. For the past four years I have been propagating just about everything I can get my hands on. Cuttings are my preferred method. Confident in my abilities to successfully propagate this rose, I stole a few cuttings. As a backup my sister (Dawn) also dug up a few rugosa suckers from her yard for me to handcarry back to Tennessee on the airplane (along with a suitcase of other plants-more on them later).

Once safely back in Tennessee, I stuck the cuttings in some rooting hormone and put them in a small pot of good potting soil mixed with perlite and peat moss. Failure! All the cuttings rotted away and did not develop roots. I find some roses to be difficult to root and this was one of them. I am sure I did something just not quite right and the trauma of traveling the great blue sky could not have helped either.

All was not lost though. I still had the tiny potted rugosa suckers my sister had dug up for me. Picking the sunniest spot I could, preparing the soil and planting the little guys, I was very optimistic of success. As all gardeners are every time they plant something. I fertilized, I watered, I watched. You know what? I failed again. The rugosas slowly petered away within the month. I was helpless to prevent their demise.
The little roses apparently did not like the heat and humidity down here in sunny Tennessee. It makes sense really when you know a little something about rugosas (which I really don't). I am only used to them growing in Maine along roadsides and near beaches as hedgerows. Areas where they get lots of wind, not much moisture, grow in rocky but generally good soil, and get a period of chilling in the winter with not so many heat days as we have here. Maine's growing season is a measly four months on average for goodness sakes! How could I ever expect my rugosas to survive our 6-7 months long growing season and many days over 100 degrees! Maine never gets temperatures over 90 degrees (I am sure my mother will dispute this vehemently). But trust me, any southerner who travels to Maine in the summertime is in nirvana-air conditioner not required. Though to be fair, it has seemed like it is slowly getting hotter in Maine. Nothing that could compare to the temperatures I experienced in Iraq so no whining from me. So for now, I understand rugosa is great rose-for the NORTH.

Anyhow, for now I will let rugosas visit me in pictures only and cherish the memory of them while growing up in Maine. I can also visit mom and see hers in the summer (the only time I like to come to Maine). Wonder why? Is it to get away from the Tennessee heat or to get to the cooler and beautiful Maine? I will not answer the question and instead let you guess or decide why you would want to visit Maine in the summertime or any other time.

in the garden....


  1. The house we rented in Texas had the most beautiful Rose topiary’s at the entrance. It did not take long for them to start dying out on me! I just dont seem to have any luck with rose's therefore, dont mess with them. I remember having some type of rose bush or vine growing along our fence in the old house I grew up in. They were so pretty and I don’t recall anyone ever doing anything to keep them prospering. They must have been real hardy to bloom like that. I love the smell of fresh roses but just have never had any luck with them. My grandmother had a rose garden that I will always keep in my memories as well….

  2. You are right daughter dear, we DO have hot days in Maine. That is why I have a pool and why my airconditioning never suts of during the day. But guess what?!! 6 inches of snow today. Darn it. First time in years. We did'nt even have that much all year last year and that we had in April so go figure. Is the photo of my bush? If so it must have just started blooming or nearly done as it is usually loaded. But the tea roses by the house are the ones that really grow. I have cut them to the ground so many times as they get up over the house. Love ya

  3. By the way i meant you were right in the fact that I would dispute you about our temptures. Also the rose bush was a cutting from a lady down the road. So it has done well.

  4. Hello Tina, I have tried a few times to plant something in my yard hoping it would grow in this climate. While visiting in Boise, Idaho several years ago, our friend had a pink Hawthorne tree in full bloom, It was beautiful, so my husband and I found a nursery that assured us it would grow in Tennessee. We were traveling in our truck so had to take extra precautions to get it home. We went to a Goodwill store and purchased some lace curtains to wrap it in for the trip across country to it's new home. It made it home in good condition and survived for several years. It did have a few blooms on it one spring, but became diseased. Our efforts to save it failed.

    My husband purchased a Mountan Ash at the px. It has grown but is sickly lookling. He has insisted that it will make a beautiful tree. I was not familier with a Mountain Ash, so couldn't imagine.
    While on vacation this summer we
    stopped at the Pendleton Woolen Mills in Oregon and their parking lot was surrounded by mountain ash trees loaded with berries. They were just beautiful! I have searched the web for information on diseases,growing habits etc. of this tree, but to no avail. Can you offer us any suggestions ? I'll e-mail you a picture but feel sure you are familier with the tree.

  5. Hi Guys, I finally got a breather from the ever exciting heating business in Maine, and from all this snow. However , my husband "Jack of all trades, master of none" has to repair the plow truck. Mom, I thought the roses near the house are more of a seven sister. A climber with bunches of 6 or seven bloom on one cane, several bunched to a cane. Teas are 3 inch flower blooms and are shrubs, or maybe that is hybrid teas. It is lovely and has vivid color. Tina, the rose I sent you was a moss rose, only two kinds, moss and crested moss. Moss roses have 120 or more petals to a flower and are fragrant. After a rainy day my neighbor can smell mine, she lives 4 football fields away with dense forest between us! Your right about them being of the old fashioned species. Maybe in the south roses need to be planted root balled in burlap, that way they can be removed to a cool basement for a couple of months and go into dormancy. They really need to be fed once a year (at least for me), dormancy, and winter kill pruning. If successful these bound roses can be pruned for tree roses or topiary. Roses are my favorite. If you want I can sent you more in April, just at the end of hibernation. What I do sometimes is cut evergreen branches, not for mulch but shelter for tender roses and trees from the winter, this could be used to keep the bushes cool, are easily removed, and for a short while, is green like grass. PS my prickly pear is growing, it has a 3 inch shoot with two others sprouting within the last couple days. Send you pics. Dawn

  6. Dawn, whoops, you are right, the one by the house is seven sisters. Love ya, Mom

  7. Hi everyone! You guys are so good at commenting and keeping me busy tonight. Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner but I have been busy in school and tired lately-too much raking!

    Skeeter, I am so glad you mention rose gardens and grandmothers. Grandmothers are the best in our memories for their baking and their gardens. I have always loved roses but REFUSE to grow them here. I do have a few which are low maintenance. (There are few believe it or not which will grow here in Tennessee and in Georgia too). I am suprised you don't have any roses down there in Georgia. We need to get you one!

    Do I know my mom or not? One thing she is passionate about is the north and some of you may notice she seems to be unhappy I chose to settle in the south-two of her daughters did and two didn't. Oh well. This is your rose. I only spotlighted it because it is so unique and doesn't do well. I do know about your climbing rose-seven sisters. I have heard of this variety. I love climbing roses too.

    Six inches of snow! My professor in school says with this crazy weather this year we can only expect more craziness. This must be it!

    Hi Nina,
    I did a post about mountain ashes and hope it helps! I think your hubby is going to be so wrong and you are right. Your mountain ash is probably doomed. If you are like me and my hubby, you enjoy some kidding around so be sure to tell him what I said (based on my research only).

    Hawthorns do grow well down here. The latin name is Crataegus but I am not sure if this is what you bought and had die on you. If you still have the latin name or common name with something more than hawthorn, send it to me and I will look it up for you. Hawthorns are actually recommended trees for this area and I learned about them in my landscape materials class just this term. My instructor loves them as do some of the students in the nursery business. I have no experience with them though.

    Hi Dawn,
    You threw me off with your display name. I am so glad you joined. Just because you live in Maine doesn't mean we can't be connected-huh? You are so knowledgeable about gardening and I am still waiting for you to come visit mine! Once you do you might not want to go back to cloudy Maine with its foot of snow where you live! lol. I am sure Jack of all Trades is VERY busy this time of year with heating all of those homes.

    You gave very good advice on growing roses and I love the picture you sent me. I am not familiar with moss roses. The prickly pear I am. I will do a post on prickly pear and post your picture-from one garden to another gardens reach out all across the world. I am glad it is doing well and can't wait to see how it does outside. I guess you will plant it out next spring? Since we will come visit (gotta see my grandbaby) I will be sure to look forward to seeing it.

  8. Tina,
    Your post carries me back to my days spent in Enterprise AL. I grew so many roses there...seemed I could just dig a hole and throw it in the ground and they came up like crazy. Maybe it was my yard..haha because I never did anything special or time consuming. I tried the rooting hormone on several types also but I never had any success. Mine always rotted too. My all time favorite rose was a bourbon called Souvenir de la Malmaison. I always made my planting choices on both smell and appearance and this one looked and smelled heavenly to me.

  9. o'malley, I think roses love Enterprise Alabama. When I lived there I had some roses and they did great too. Not here though. Souvenir de la Malaison is a rose I love even though I haven't seen it. I researched roses online when I first moved here and this one just kept coming up. What was the fragrance like? Was it very vigorous for you-more than the rest? I think it is an old rose. I wonder where there are some here in Clarksville? Do you still grow roses?