Featured Rose – Rosa spinosissima

It is really starting to feel like spring outside in the garden as the bed preparations continue. Amidst the pruning, edging, and mulching, we will soon also be digging up the rose suckers that pop up in the lawns and pathways. One of the many beautiful and interesting roses at Wyck that will soon make its way into pots for our plant sales is an understated beauty: the species rose Rosa spinosissima.

Species rose Rosa spinosissima. Photo courtesy of botanical.com.
Species rose Rosa spinosissima. Photo courtesy of botanical.com.

Also known as the Scotch Rose, Rosa spinosissima has white, or very nearly white, fragrant spring blooms. It is a “simple” flower, which means that it is a 5-petaled rose, a characteristic of the rose family Rosaceae of which it is quite obviously part. There are some which can exhibit up to 8 petals, however, though it is an anomaly. Each plant can grow to about 5 to 6 feet in height, with an average spread of 3 to 4 feet. The height is dependent on the environment, of course, and in harsher conditions will grow much shorter. It suckers readily, and can form dense thickets. “Spinosissima” refers to this plant being “most spiny,” so beware if you happen upon one of these thickets! However lovely, they can also be a dangerous path to trevail! This rose is hardy from zones 4 to 9, and exhibits remarkable disease resistance. After blooming, the plant displays luscious black hips.

I like to fertilize these roses once in early spring before they bloom, and once after they bloom and I have pruned the plant. Unless pruning in early spring to remove dead or diseased wood, pruning should only be done in the summer after the rose has bloomed. After all, this rose is a once-blooming rose that flowers on old wood.

I do hope that if you have not already, you will have the distinct pleasure of enjoying the intoxicating scents and sights of this rose’s spring blooms. Its delicate form and fragrance are sure to impress.