Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
Species roses have always fascinated me. They’re something different, and aren’t commonly found at your local big box store. If you’re looking for a natural rose they’re about as close to nature as you can get.
Species roses are actually found growing in the wild in many climates above the equator. They usually have just a single layer of petals. These rose’s flowers seem most similar to a dogwood or apple blossom rather than a cut rose that you’d purchase for a bouquet. Species roses come in just about any shade whether white, pink, yellow or red.
Another way species roses are set apart is their lack of a catchy name. You won’ find a species rose with a name like “New Dawn” or “Queen Elizabeth.” These roses are simply referred to by their scientific names. The naming process is simple and straight forward, much like you’d expect for a wild rose.
Species roses primarily have large thorns. I’m sure for a wild rose this is very helpful. However, in your garden you’ll want to consider planting in areas where the thorns won’t be a problem. Thorns might be annoying in one area, but could also be an advantage in another. A perfect example would be underneath a large window that doesn’t have adequate lighting at night. Massive thorns will make just about any burglar think twice!
There is a species rose for both large and small gardens and every size planting space that needs filled. Species roses come in every size from under three feet to over nine. Ramblers and climbers even exist as species roses. R. filipes, known as ‘Kiftsgate,’ is a stunning species rambler. This vigorous rose is covered in masses of tiny white flowers that are clustered together when blooming. The overall effect is similar to hydrangea flowers.
Species roses can also be an excellent choice as a hedge. A cultivar for this purpose would be R. Virginiana. This rose has beautiful dark pink flowers during the summer followed by an equally showy display of rose hips in the fall. Compared to hybrid teas or most other rose varieties, species roses are fairly disease resistant. If using a rose as a hedge has concerned you due to disease issues, this could be the appropriate rose variety for such a purpose.
There are several downsides to species roses though. One is that they can be difficult to find since many of them don’t propagate well. Mail order is going to be the easiest route for locating a specific species rose. Depending on your local shopping options it might be the only route for finding a species rose at all. The other downside is since species roses are basically wild they generally only bloom once a year. However, since the rose is only blooming once the bush will be flushed out with prolific blossoms when it does bloom. There also isn’t a reason to feel guilty for not removing those rose hips. Since your rose wont bloom a second time, you can leave rose hips on for a little fall color.
Species roses are truly unique and something not every garden has. They can be an excellent choice for a natural or wildlife friendly garden. Generally they’re also easier to grow, so they are better for your time and pocketbook in the long run. Why not give a species rose a try and find out what you’ve been missing?