Wisconsin Native Roses
Like most Americans, you have undoubtedly given roses,
wanted them and admired them.
But those roses are foreign species brought to the US during the past 400 years. Hundreds of hybrids and
varietals, extracted from species found all around the world. Native rose plants, however, amount to only
1-2% of the rose market. Conservationists and native plant enthusiasts would like to change that. Many
native rose species not only make beautiful plantings but also provide valuable food sources and
protection for wildlife.
Native rose species not only make beautiful plantings but also provide valuable food sources and
protection for wildlife.
Hybridized exotic rose species, in contrast, offer relatively few nutrients and they require excessive care
and frequently crowd out indigenous vegetation. While most cultivated rose plants are very chemical-dependent,
native roses require a lot less care in terms of artificial irrigation and various chemical inputs, such as
fertilizers and pesticides. What's more, exotic varieties of roses are often short of pollen and nectar, which
are crucial food sources for a variety of insects and other creatures.
As the shortcomings of exotics become more apparent, a growing legion of plant experts is calling for the
resurrection of America's forgotten native rose species. There are 7 species indigenous to Wisconsin.
Take a look at the catalog of Wisconsin native roses and notice that there are a variety of forms they take
including shrub, vine and hedge. And, most of all, they require less fertilizers and pesticides. Best of all
they support native pollinators.
Native wild roses need no special care. You can burn them, weed-whack them, step on them, and eat them.
They’re equally at home growing by train tracks, on the edges of swamps, or in frozen tundra as in the
most pampered garden.
Despite their hardiness, many of them also have edible hips with eight times the
concentration of vitamin C found in citrus, the ability to flower multiple times a year, and a rich perfume
so complex and tuned to our senses that it can’t be created artificially.
It isn’t difficult to grow wild rose plants. Wild rose bushes can be planted just like any other rosebush and
will do best in areas where they get plenty of sun and the soils are well drained (as a general rule). When
growing wild roses in your rose beds, gardens or general landscape, do not crowd them. All types of
wild roses need room to expand and grow into their natural states. Crowding them, like with other rose
bushes, tends to cut down on air flow through and around the bushes which opens them up to disease
Once their root systems are established in their new homes, these tough rose bushes will thrive with a
minimum of wild rose care. Deadheading (removal of old blooms) them really is not necessary and will
cut down or eliminate the wonderful rose hips they produce. They can be pruned a bit to maintain a
desired shape, again be careful how much of this you do if you want those beautiful rose hips later!