Olympia Garden Designer Shares Rosa Rugosa and Their Hybrids

Olympia Garden Design


Submitted by Mary Jo Buza

Rosa Rugosa and Their Hybrids

Olympia Garden DesignRugosa roses are sturdy and easy to grow.  They are famous for their vigorous and healthy growth that is reliable, and endures salt spray, heat, cold, and poor soils.  For these reasons rugosas are useful along roadsides as hedges, on slopes for erosion control, and near the seashore as wind breaks, and any other situation where a tough shrub is needed.

Its easy to care for rugosas . They do best in full sun, and adequate water until established. Rugosa roses are disease resistant, unlike most other roses that have a host of insect and disease problems.  Many growers recommend that you avoid spraying rugosa roses with insecticides and fungicides for two reasons: first they don’t need it; and second, they react adversely. The leaves turn yellow and begin to drop off when sprayed with pesticides.

The flowers of rugosa roses vary from single to doubles with a color range of pinks, purple-crimson, to white with some yellows and scarlets. Most of their flowers possess some fragrance from mild to a strong heady perfume that carries in the air. The blooming season is long and plants are characterized as either a continuous bloomer, or a repeat bloomer. Most rugosas possess large decorative rose hips that attract and feed birds in the fall and the winter.

The number of rugosa and rugosa hybrids is larger than most gardeners would expect.  Hybridizers take advantage of their disease resistance, hardiness, and recurrent blooms to create and introduce new varieties each season. The interest and appreciation for rugosas has grown quickly. Below is a short list of rugosa roses. If any of these varieties interest you, check your favorite local nursery.

Blanc Double de Coubert has large, double white blossoms with a strong fragrance.  The flowers possess a delicate tissue paper texture and bloom throughout the summer. However, this variety does lack a plentiful display of rose hips in the fall. The foliage is a deep green and the plant grows five feet tall and four feet wide.

Hansa is a large rose that grows seven feet tall and seven feet wide so it requires a lot of space. The flowers are a deep purple crimson with a heavy scent that carries in the air. Hansa blooms with vigor early and late in the season and intermittently blooms between. The large rose hips are scarlet and plentiful.

Roseraie de L’ Hay –  Don’t let the fancy name of this rugosa rose fool, this plant is fantastic! The color and fragrance of this rugosa will knock your socks off.  The large elegant buds open to a large

Rosa Theresa Bugnet
Rosa Theresa Bugnet

double bloom of intense burgundy/crimson. The foliage is deep green and crinkled. This is a large vigorous bush grows 5 feet tall and wide. The only short-coming of this variety is that it has no hips for winter interest.

Rosa Rugosa Alba has light pink buds that open to a single snow- white flower with golden stamens in the center.  The lightly fragrant flowers are followed by orange- red hips.  The leaves are a wonderful lime green that contrasts well with the white flowers.  Alba grows large, six feet tall and six feet wide and is a good choice for a hedge.

Therese Bugnet is one of the most beautiful of all the rugosa roses. It has old-fashioned, ruffled, large blooms that are a lilac pink and considered very fragrant. It is a repeat bloomer that grows up to six feet tall and six feet wide. This rugosa is known to have some tolerance for shade.

If you want trouble-free roses with fragrance, the rugosas have assets that are hard to beat.  Few other roses have so few problems with insects or diseases.  Yet, what really sells rugosa roses is their excellent flower color during the summer months and their reliable fragrance.  They do require a lot of space; however, they demand little else in terms of care and are not just hardy, but tough.


Author Mary Jo Buza is a landscape designer.  She has more than 20 years experience designing, installing, and maintaining landscapes in the South Sound area.  For more information on a custom landscape design or  a consulting visit, call Mary Jo at 360-923-1733 or visit her website.


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