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Native Maryland Plants: Get Hips

Rose hips for fall.

wild rose hips
unidentified wild rose, likely not native

While vacationing in northern Michigan, I came across this shrub with these incredible rose hips. Growing in USDA gardening zone 5, the roses were long gone, the hips were already well formed and hints of fall were in the air.

The array of colors and stages of hip development were stunning. It got me to thinking about Maryland's native rose, Carolina rose (Rosa carolina). Carolina rose shrubs grown in full sun are awash with pink blooms in May or June. The shrubs are drought tolerant and grow in. a range of soils.

The shrubs grow in a loose way and spread by suckers. The blooms are simple five petal flowers making it easy for pollinators to reach the center of the flower. No fancy hybrid rose here. The shrubs grow in part shade or full sun and flower best in full sun. These are not repeat blooming roses.

I originally planted three shrubs in part sun several years ago. I soon removed two because they spread so quickly and also bloomed for a fairly short time. In a small garden, I did not want to use that much space on such a short blooming plant that didn't do much after it bloomed. Even with the one shrub, it is necessary to pull out suckers every year.

Seeing the rose hips in Michigan is making me rethink those shrubs. The rose hips of Carolina roses do have variety in color, morphing from green to orange to bright red. Ours were on the small side. Rose hips add fall color in the garden and make great additions to vases filled with fall flowers. This fall, I plan to move the remaining shrub to full sun so it can do its thing with flowers and hips next year. Hopefully, as the shrub matures, the hips will get a bit larger. If you have experience with this, please do share!

As for that glorious Michigan rose, my best guess is it is a hybrid of the rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa), a wild rose from Asia. It is often thought of as a wild rose here but that is mostly because it has naturalized in so many places. American Meadows has a great post on the meaning of a wild rose and the lore surrounding it. Carolina rose is available at many native plant nurseries and by mail from Prairie Nursery.

Whether you grow it for the flowers or the hips, Carolina rose is your native!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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