General gardening topics

Growing Rosa Rugosa – Shrub Roses

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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Japanese roses, or rosa rugosa, are strong rose bearing shrubs. They offer pink, white or red scented flowers and green foliage. Very easy to grow, these plants are known for the scented flowers, subsequently, producing large bright hips after flowering and are often grown as hedging.

Planting Rosa Rugosa

Planting Rosa Rugosa

When planting it is best to give the shrub moist, well-draining soil and exposure to full sunlight, another attribute that makes for a perfect hedge. It does best in the back of a border, south-facing or west facing. At its full maturity, it will reach 2.4 metres in height and spread but it usually a good idea to prune to keep them confined and looking there best. 

Feeding Rosa Rugosa

It is best to use a well-balanced fertiliser once at the end of winter or the beginning of spring, and again at the start of summer. It is also recommended that you mulch at the end of winter or the start of spring to help retain moisture and improve the soil quality as you would with most roses. 

Attracting wildlife into your garden with shrub roses

After planting, you will notice they do attract an abundance of different wildlife to your garden, as this shrub brings about birds, butterflies, bees, and pollinators/beneficial insects. The flowers are rich in pollen and nectar while the interior provides perfect shelters for birds. 

Taking Rosa Rugosa cutting

Taking cutting from Rosa Rugosa

You can propagate the Rosa Rugosa by taking hardwood cuttings. These are cuttings you take in Autumn. You want strong, hardwood with a bit of inflexibility rather than newer, greener stems because the hardwood is more durable over winter while the new growth will rot. 

Step 1

Take cuttings no more than 15cm in length from the top of a branch. Remove all but the top two pairs of leaves. Dip the end in rooting hormone to encourage a faster root system.

Step 2

With small pots or containers, fill with potting soil and insert the ends of the cuttings directly in the middle. You have a lot of options here, such as large containers or trays which you use to evenly spaced out cuttings or individual containers for each cutting. There are propagating containers that come with plastic tops you can alter to control airflow, or you can just use a plastic or styrofoam cup with a plastic cup on top. 

Regardless, the idea is to create a small greenhouse whereby you have a plastic or glass cover on top, one which does not touch the leaves or cutting directly.

Step 3

Water as needed to keep the soil from drying out but don’t overwater or it will lead to mildew and root rot. Place the containers somewhere out of direct sunlight. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth and come springtime, you can remove the new plants and repot them elsewhere. 


when to prune Rosa Rugosa roses

When pruning, you want to wait until the end of summer, after the shrub rose has completed its flowering. The stems should be almost all pruned lightly and remove any diseased or damaged stems.

To generate more vigorous growth in the future, we recommend removing 1 in every 5 of the older stems to ground level each year. 

You can read more about pruning Rosa Rugosa in this article here

Pests and diseases


There are many small pests that can prove problematic, although they can be removed with sprays of water, homemade solutions of detergent/water, as well as pesticides you can by from any garden centre. Be on the lookout for red spider mites, caterpillars, rose aphids and rose leafhoppers. The good news is that Rosa Rugosa are very hardy and these do not usually cause any serious issues.


In terms of diseases, like most roses, black spot, powdery mildew and rust are all potential problems. Rust is a form of fungal disease that results in black spores on the leaves. Thankfully it is not particularly serious and won’t kill your plant. You can control it with pruning, getting rid of any infected spots quickly, and removing any fallen leaves in Autumn so that the spores cannot collect and multiply once winter comes. Otherwise, there are fungicides you can use to spray effected roses at first signs

Black pot on rose

A bit more serious is black spot which is a fungal infection with purple or black spots manifesting on leaves, causing them to drop prematurely. To manage this, you can similarly collect any fallen leaves and remove them or apply a fungicide such as RoseClear.  

While the plant is common as a hedge, you must be careful of any white, powdery growth. Rose powdery mildew can happen without proper air circulation or highly humid areas. You can combat it by pruning away some branches to afford more sir circulation, watering at the base and mulching, and spraying with a fungicide at the very first signs.

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