The True “Wild” Roses
Wild rose is a species of varied habitat occurring in dry soils in and at the edge of prairies, woodlands, and savannas, in fencerows and thickets, in upland forest, and dunes. It is found from Maine south to Florida, west to Texas, north to Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. It also occurs in Canada from Ontario east to Nova Scotia.
Wild Rose (Rosa Carolina or R. blanda) are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. The rose family includes well-known species as diverse as garden roses, strawberries, apples, peaches, and blackberries. Roses typically have leaves with 3 to 9 leaflets, stems with hooked prickles (“thorns”) and bristles, and upright or arching stems (canes).
The species can be cultivated and is frequently sold by nurseries. It needs full sun to moderate shade. It is drought tolerant, but does best with regular watering in well-drained soils. The fruit or hip, rather tart, is edible, and ful of Vitamin C/ Numerous species of bees visit this plant.
The botanical term for wild rose is “species rose,” which means just what it says—a species that occurs naturally, with no help from man—a true “wildflower.” There are over 100 of these worldwide, some native to North America, many from the Orient and Europe. These true wild roses are all single with exactly five petals—never more, and almost all of them are pink, with a few whites and reds, and even fewer that range toward yellow.
North American Native Roses
The wild rose is rather unappreciated. Two of the most widespread species roses you may see are Rosa carolina, or the Carolina Rose, common in thickets, and R. blanda, the pink-fading-to-white-flowered climbing shrub usually called Prairie Rose (Meadow rose, smooth wild rose, early wild rose). R. Blanda is native from Ontario down into Texas, and west to the Rockies.
Both are rather small, scrambling shrubs with spectacular, 2-inch wide-open single blooms with five bright pink petals. And both are native to a huge area from the entire Atlantic seaboard all the way west to Nebraska. Pasture Rose, Prairie Rose, Wild Rose, Dog Rose, Eglantine, Sweetbriar, and Scotch Briar are just a few of the very common names for wild roses that mean different things in different places. (Probably ten different species are called “Pasture Rose” in various parts of the country.)
Wild rose is best grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Best flowering and disease resistance occur in full sun. Water deeply and regularly (mornings are best). Avoid overhead watering. Good air circulation promotes vigorous and healthy growth and helps control foliar diseases. Summer mulch helps retain moisture and keep roots cool. Remove and destroy diseased leaves from plants (as practicable), and clean up and destroy dead leaves from the ground around the plants both during the growing season and as part of a thorough clean-up during winter (dormant season). Crowns appreciate protection in cold winter climates. Prune in late winter to early spring.
Rosa Carolina, commonly called pasture rose, is a native shrub that occurs in both dryish and wet soils throughout the State. Typically found in glades, open woods, prairies, along roads and railroads, and in wet soils along streams and swamps and low areas. Grows from 1-3 feet tall (less frequently to 6 feet) and often spreads by suckers to form colonies or thickets in the wild. Features single (5-petaled), pink flowers (to 2.5 inches across) that bloom in May. No repeat bloom. Smooth, dark green foliage. Red hips in late summer. The genus name of these wild roses comes from the Latin name, and the specific epithet means of North or South Carolina.
Roses are susceptible to a large number of diseases, the most common of which are black spot, powdery mildew, rust and rose rosette. Good cultural practices are the first line of defense in disease control. This species rose has better natural resistance to the aforementioned diseases than most hybrid roses. Potential insect problems include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, rose midges, leafhoppers and spider mites.
Grow wild rose mass in borders, rose garden, meadows, naturalized areas or native plant gardens.
These lovely plants attract pollinators and birds also like to eat the fruits (hips). People eat rose hips, too. The Vitamin C-rich hips make good tea or jelly.
But most of all, the wild rose is another in our Basic Starter Kit that, as Emily says, “is a nod to beauty.”
Common Name: Carolina rose
Type: Deciduous shrub
Native Range: Eastern and central North America
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Spread: 5 to 10 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies