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Grow Roses for Beauty, Food, and Health

Around Valentine’s Day, Buy Living Roses!

Roses are the Perfect Early Addition to your Garden Landscape for Beauty and Practicality!

Written by a Certified Permaculture Landscape Designer

This is the year for you to grow attractive perennials that are also edible or medicinal, adding not only beauty but value to your landscape.

In this article, you will find tips on planting hardy roses early in the spring! How does Late-February to Early March sound? As long as the ground is thawed and all danger of severe frost has passed, you will be good to go!

Most people think of roses as finicky, disease-prone, and overall too fancy and high-maintenance of a plant for their natural gardens.

Well, I LOVE to burst this bubble because there is a perfect solution for most of your rose desires! Good news if you want ease of maintenance or are a black thumb, these roses should survive your neglect. Of course, try to follow the directions on how to plant it and care for it when you purchase!

Now, Let’s Get Planting!

All Roses love well-drained soil, a good pH balance (around the acidic to neutral 5.5-6.5 area), and full sun (6+ hours per day). Keep these factors in mind when planning your rose plot.

As we organic gardeners know, the natural way to attain a fertile and slightly acidic pH soil range is to amend the soil with sulfurous compost (freshly decayed biological matter).

Roses are notorious for being difficult to grow and maintain, which is why we will focus on the hardier variety in this article.

Rosa Rugosa – “Beach Rose”, “Japanese Rose”

Hardy to: USDA ZONES 2-7

Growth Habit: Vining to Impenetrable Bush

Best time to plant: February-March


A very hardy and yet beautiful addition to the garden!

The Rosa Rugosa has many different sizes, varieties, and shades of flower petals like the traditional pinks (from light blush to striking magenta), reds, yellows, and white to the newer varieties of wine-red, striped, or a slightly peachy shade. But, only the original plants with pink-colored flowers will be a guarantee for all of Rugosa‘s distinguishing characteristics.

These flowers are not particularly a show-stopper, except when seen in sheer numbers on a large and fragrant specimen. The flowers are also not good for cut arrangements, although they are extremely useful in crafts, potpourri, and other décor.

Despite a few superficial drawbacks, another positive aspect of the Rugosa is that it is a recurrent bloomer except in much warmer climates, meaning that it will have more than one blooming period in a season!

Edibility & Health

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The Rugosa is known for producing a sour, astringent, but edible cherry-tomato-sized reddish-orange fruit called “Rose Hips”.

You can eat the sour-tasting fruit for their extremely high levels of natural Vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories (a great winter survival food).

Rose Hip Tea is available for easier absorption and palatability. The homesteader can even use fresh rose hips to make deliciously tart jams and jellies!

The naturally high content of Vitamin C also makes rose hips a booster for the body to synthesize collagen, helping to restore lubrication and youthfulness to the skin and joints.

Beauty & Cosmetics

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Rose Hip Seeds are also useful as they are made into an anti-aging skin oil high in beneficial fatty acids. This oil is great for wrinkles and dry skin, but should not be used on skin prone to acne, as it’s humectant abilities are too powerful for oily skin types.

Use the flower’s small and sparse, yet delicate and powerfully fragrant, petals to make a natural perfume or potpourri to freshen up your body and home.

Or make infused rosewater (rose hydrosol) to naturally brighten up your face.

Rose Hydrosol Recipe

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You can easily make your own rose hydrosol by:

#1. The Quick Method:

Lightly steam or “simmer” a handful of dried rose petals and 1 cup of purified water in a stainless steel pot, tightly covered for 15 minutes to an hour.

The length of time will determine concentration of rose biochemical ingredients: The longer, the more concentrated. But don’t steam the petals at too high of a temperature for too long, or else you will destroy the benefits.

#1. The Cold Method:

This method keeps more of the beneficial biochemicals intact, but it takes longer, so you will need patience!

A. Fill a clear jar up with dried rose petals, stuff as much as you can in there, but not too tight!

B. Fill the remaining space of the jar up with purified water and close the jar.

C. Allow water and roses to sit in a sunny window for 1-3 days, shaking contents occasionally. Again, the longer you let it sit, the more concentrated it will get, but don’t let it sit for too long or else bacteria and mold might start to grow!

#2. Put the remaining water it in a spray bottle. Dark glass bottles are best to eliminate plastic chemical exposure and to protect the hydrosol from sun damage.

#3. Spritz your clean face every morning and evening.

#4. Store in the refrigerator for long-term use (good up to 1 month), or your shower (good up to 1 week) to use quickly.

Or you can purchase one premade from a reputable source from the affiliate link embedded in the image shown above.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the plant has been used for centuries to treat irregular menstruation and gastritis, as Rosa Rugosa is one of the original rose cultivars, going back thousands of years to its origins in Japan and Siberia.

Reddish-Orange Rose Hip Powder is useful in soaps and other cosmetic colorants. In Ancient China, dried rose petals were ground up and processed to make lip colors and rouge blushes.

History & Hardiness

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The plant has been naturalized in the Northeastern part of the United States ever since it’s first documented planting in the mid-1800’s.

It has since spread far and wide due to its weedy growth habit, which does not respond well to cuttings, so expect to let it grow to full size for best results in your garden.

Sometimes considered an invasive species and will readily hybridize with other roses, so you might want to check with local authorities.

But this actually makes it more appealing to me–the hardier and less maintenance means the better suitable for my organic gardens!

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Rosa Rugosa is resistant to many diseases that other roses are prone to contracting like rose rust and black spot.

It’s pollen, bold fragrance, and bright colors will also attract and feed pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Be forewarned in that it is like most roses, thorny and prickly. But, unlike other roses, the Rugosa only needs at minimum a few hours of sun in the right conditions.

Of course, it will produce best and be its healthiest in full sun (6+ hours per day)!However, if the rugged Rugosa is not your thing, there are other options!

Companion Plants

Who wants to see just one plant dominate the landscape? Although Rugosa roses are wonderful and hardy specimens by themselves, they will be healthier and happier-looking with other helpers around it.

Some of these perennial plants that form a symbiotic relationship with roses are:

Garlic – or any other plant from the Allium family

Another beautiful, hardy, and incredibly useful plant is garlic! Not only will it be good for your roses, but they are amazing for your health and cooking recipes!

Planting bulbs around any large perennial (tree or bush) is a good idea, for when spring comes, they help break up the soil, letting the warm sunlight and rain come pouring into the ground!

Geranium – think wild geranium, or “Cranesbill”, for your perennial garden

Beneficial for keeping those pesky bugs at bay, the Cranesbill wild geranium is also useful in the home apothecary for numerous reasons. Its traditional uses include reducing signs of aging in skin and helping stop diarrhea


Wow, can you get any more of a fragrance northern perennial pairing? Roses and lavender are both beautiful in their own way, complimenting each other in shape and color! The spiked small purple flowers and silvery soft leaf foliage of the lavender contrast beautifully with the glossy, sharp dark green foliage of the bigger, round roses.

Lavender is another one of those garden plants good at keeping pests away. Its herbal uses are that it can be used as a calming tea or for a good nights sleep.

Sage – Salvia

Similar to lavender, some sages are also great for cooking and herbal uses! Sage can help liven dishes with its herbaceous and fresh flavor. Or you can use sage in your herbal recipes to help with digestion and other issues. Sage is known to ward off negative emotions or heavy feelings.


Other types of hardier roses (but not as hardy or as practical as the Rugosa), would also do well when properly cared for. Here are some other books and articles about Rugosa roses and other hardy roses that will give you more varieties so you can find the perfect one for your needs!

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The Rugged Rugosa – American Rose Society

10 Hardy Roses to Plant in Your Garden – Canada

Hardy Roses to Minnesota Gardens – Minnesota

Different Kinds of Roses – Illinois


**Statements on this website have not been approved by the FDA. These statements are for educational purposes only and not intended to cure or treat any disease. Please consult with your healthcare provider before implementing any new health program.**

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