Here's how to grow roses in your garden for hips
Q: I want to plant roses to grow rose hips. I've heard that they're a good source of vitamin C. Are there varieties that make better rose hips? Is there a good time of year to plant roses?
A: A rose hip is the seed pod of a rose flower. All rose hips are edible, but not all rose hips taste good.
According to Liz Druitt, author of The Organic Rose Garden, "The roses with the best tasting hips are: Rosa canina and Rosa rugosa rubra, Hansa, Old Blush, and Dortmund."
Other roses that are grown for their hips are:
- The Eglantine rose, the hips of this rose are the ones used to make "tea" in Europe, with foliage the fragrance of apples.
- Rosa villosa — the Apple Rose — has a wonderful flavor and hips that are very easy to clean. The hips ripen in July, are the deepest red, and are as large as the end of one's thumb making them dual purpose for easy harvest and a real conversation piece in the garden.
- Rosa canina was used in England during World War II as a source of vitamin C, made into a syrup and used medicinally to prevent scurvy.
If you're growing roses for their hips you don't want to dead head — prune off the spent flowers on — your roses as is recommended for flower production. You'll also want to water your rose bushes regularly and fertilize with a good all-purpose fruit and flower fertilizer at least once a month in the growing season to improve flower production.
Rose hips can also be made into jelly. Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver of Amador County Stacy Ryerson said don’t wait until fall to pick the rose hips. The flesh of the hips will have dried out too much because the developing seeds take up the moisture. Harvest hips as soon as they fully color, but long before the plant defoliates. Cut each hip in half, then use a tiny 1/8 teaspoon, a metal measuring spoon, to scoop out the seeds and all the hairy fibers from the center. Prepare the cleaned flesh according to your jelly recipe.
Late fall and winter is the best time to plant roses. Make sure to order your rose bushes well ahead of planting time as many nurseries take orders during the summer for planting in the fall and winter. If you are in a colder area, plant roses in spring once the danger of hard frost has passed. Contact your local rose society for help locating nursery sources for specialty roses and for tips on general rose care.
For more information on growing roses for their hips go to the Iowa State University website at bit.ly/3g7RuQc.
For a recipe for rose hip jelly go to the University of Minnesota's website at bit.ly/3s4ncAv.
The Shasta Master Gardeners Program can be reached by phone at 530-242-2219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The gardener office is staffed by volunteers trained by the University of California to answer gardeners' questions using information based on scientific research.