Species Rose

By: C. Colston Burrell
Species roses are chosen for their simple beauty and ease of care. See more pictures of roses.

More and more gardeners are turning to the simple beauty and ease of care of species roses. These are roses as found in nature, with simple flowers and the kind of inherent ruggedness that makes them thrive where no other roses will grow. There are some 200 species roses, but only a few dozen are commonly grown.


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Description of species rose: Species roses bear abundant single flowers, but they usually bloom only once a season. They are often fragrant, and most produce colorful hips. The majority are shrub roses, although some are climbers. Most offer excellent resistance to pests and diseases.

Planting species rose: Space about 4 to 6 feet apart, closer when grown as hedges.


Special needs of species rose: Winter hardiness is extremely variable. Some, such as Rosa rugosa, are hardy virtually everywhere. Pruning mainly consists of removing any winter kill and older canes in spring. There is no need to prune faded flowers. The red-to-orange hips are attractive in autumn and winter.

Propagating species rose: Species roses can be multiplied by division or cuttings. They are the only roses that come true from seed.

Uses of species rose: Species roses are used for hedges and borders and as climbing plants. They are ideal for naturalizing. Their hips are used in cooking and flower arranging and to attract wildlife.

Varieties of species rose: Rosa glauca (R. rubrifolia) is probably the only rose grown for its foliage: Lightly thorned red canes bear reddish purple leaves. This hardy plant produces fragrant pink flowers with a white eye in late spring; hips are red. Rosa rugosa, a bright pink rose, and its white flowered form, R. r. alba, are frequently used in seashore plantings where they often naturalize. The summer-long blooms are followed by large, bright orange hips. The stems are heavily spined. This is the parent of many shrub roses and is extremely hardy. Rosa wichuriana, the "memorial rose," makes a hardy climber or ground cover. It bears fragrant white flowers late in the season followed by red hips.


Want more information on gardening and great flowers you can grow? Try:

  • Roses: Learn everything about these sophisticated, breathtaking blooms.
  • Rose Gardens: Find out how to keep your rose garden healthy, and discover dynamic arrangements you can create in your own backyard.
  • Garden Types: There are many ways to cultivate a lush oasis around your home. Read about all the different types of gardens you can create.
  • Gardening: Get great tips on how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.