Salt-Resistant Roses

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20171001A Kamil Porembiński, WC

Rugosa roses (Rosa rugosa) is an excellent hedge plant for areas where salt spray is a concern. Photo: Kamil Porembiński, Wikimedia Commons

Question: Do you have recommendations for an own-root rose that would be good for a street front hedge on a Montreal street? I’m concerned about salt, etc.

Iman Nosseir

Answer: I suggest looking into the rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) and its hybrids. This rose grows naturally by the seaside in Japan and Siberia, often on sand dunes, commonly as the first shrub in from the coast. Salt seems to condense on its wrinkled leaves (that’s what rugosa means) and numerous thorns, yet does the plant no harm … and keeps the salt from reaching plants further inland, thus protecting the rest of the garden from salt damage.

20171001B hansbenn, Pixabay.jpg

The brilliant red hips, adored by birds, give the plant the common name beach tomato. Photo: hansbenn, Pixabay

In New England and Atlantic Canada, it’s a common sight both near the shore (indeed, it’s often called seaside rose or salt spray rose or even beach tomato [because of its large bright red fruits in fall]) and along highways where salt spray is a problem.

The rugosa rose itself has fairly large, highly perfumed flowers, sometimes an attractive golden fall color and spectacular and edible fall hips (as rose fruits are called). It’s a fairly tall shrub rose (3 to 6 feet/1 to 2 m) widely used in hybridizing to impart extra cold hardiness (zone 3) and resistance to black spot and rust to shrub roses. It blooms most profusely early in the season, at the beginning of summer, but often reblooms at least slightly at summer’s end. (That’s the species: many cultivars rebloom much more profusely and over the entire summer.)

On the downside, it (and most of its hybrids) do sucker considerably, that is, they produce not-always-wanted plantlets that sprout all around the mother plant. Also, the species can self-sow and become invasive. The hybrids, though, are not nearly as likely to self-sow.

Rosa rugosa typically has pink flowers, with ‘Rubra’ being a particularly dark pink selection. R. rugosa ‘Alba’ and ‘Alboplena’ (double) are pure white.

20171001C Henry Hudgson Nadiatalent, wc.jpg

Rosa ‘Henry Hudson’ is a long-blooming, widely available rugosa-type rose. Photo: Nadiatalent, Wikimedia Commons

‘Here’s a list of some of the more popular and thus widely available rugosa hybrids, all hardy to at least zone 3:

  1. R. ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ (white, double)
  2. R. ‘Dart’s Dash’ (mauve, double)
  3. R. ‘David Thompson’ (red, double)
  4. R. ‘F J Grootendurst’ (pink-red, double)
  5. R. ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ (pink, single)
  6. R. ‘Hansa’ (purple red, semi-double)
  7. R. ‘Hansaland’ (cherry red, semi-double)
  8. R. ‘Henry Hudson’ (white, double)
  9. R. ‘Jens Monk’ (pink, semi-double)
  10. R. ‘Linda Campbell’ (red, double)
  11. R. ‘Martin Frobisher’ (light pink, double)
  12. R. ‘Moje Hammarberg’ (deep mauve, double)

    20171001D purple pavement, Huls Nursery.jpg

    Rosa ‘Purple Pavement’. Photo: Huls Nursery

  13. R. Pavement series (wide range of colors, semi-double)
  14. R. ‘Pink Grootendurst’ (pink, semi-double)
  15. R. ‘Polareis’ (blush pink, double)
  16. R. ‘Robusta’ (scarlet red, simple)
  17. R. ‘Roseraie de L’Hay’ (pink, double)
  18. R. ‘Rugelda’ (yellow, double)
  19. R. ‘Sandy’ (single, pink: developed for sand dune stabilization)
  20. R. ‘Thérèse Bugnet’ (pink, double)
  21. R. ‘Topaz Jewel’ (double, yellow)

Others

Some species roses are also very salt resistant (R. banksiae, R. multiflora, R. spinosissima, etc.), but most are small-flowered, bloom only once a year and are also somewhat to highly invasive. Most gardeners will find rugosa roses a much more satisfactory choice.20171001A Kamil Porembiński, WC

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