Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
June, 2008
Regional Report

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'Father Hugo' rose will enchant you with its fragrant, lemon yellow blossoms.

Love Those Species Roses

June is rose month across the Midwest, and I have a hard time resisting the beauty all around right now. I don't consider myself a rose person, but the flowers are so exquisite and so sweetly perfumed that I simply lose my head when confronted with a pearly 'Peace' or a sassy 'Mardi Gras'.

Even though the sometimes brassy prima donna hybrid tea roses seem to take the limelight most often, I do find myself taken with the occasional prairie rose found in a field or the hardy rugosa rose laying across the sand of the seashore.

Species Roses
This group of roses, some native and some imported, are botanically referred to as species roses. Most species roses have only five petals, setting them apart from the crepe paper multipetalled blossoms of the hybrid roses. They are all important parts of the natural ecosystem, providing stabilization with solid rooting, pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies, and food for caterpillars.

These species roses can also be added to the landscape and garden, especially to naturalistic plantings. Here are some of the most easily accessible roses, usually available through native plant nurseries.

Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina) is found all over the country. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall and has soft pink flowers and attractive dark red hips. It is one of the best species roses for heat and drought tolerance.

Swamp rose (Rosa palustris) grows well in wet soils. It has pale pink fragrant blossoms and grows 4 to 6 feet tall.

Prairie or meadow rose (Rosa blanda) is 3 to 4 feet tall with upright, almost thornless stems and medium pink blossoms.

Red-leaf rose (Rosa glauca
Father Hugo rose (Rosa hugonis) is one of the few species roses with yellow flowers. The plant grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, and has graceful arching branches.

Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa
Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) grows 4 to 6 feet tall with upright stems, soft pink flowers and showy hips.

One word, of caution: avoid the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). This plant has clusters of small, white flowers followed by tiny clusters of orange-red hips and is an invasive weed all over the country. It escaped cultivation and is choking out the native roses.

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