Rose Cuttings – October, 2007

Late summer is the time when some roses put on a massive display of green, marble-sized fruit called hips. Hips form at the base of a spent flower and are produced when pollination has occurred. The ovary (hip) will swell as the seeds of the plant begin to grow. As the hip ripens, a color change will occur that varies from rose to rose.

This is not to say that all roses produce hips. Some are sterile and never produce hips. I’ve listed a few varieties below that are reliable hips producers.

So we are faced with the dilemma, as gardeners, of either removing these hips so our roses will bloom more or leaving them to enjoy their colorful fall displays.

Flaunt them …

During fall, hips change color into bright orange and red. These rose hips can be showstoppers in our autumnal gardens, and will last until the holidays. Hips, which look like miniature apples, can be used in flower arrangements or as centerpieces in table decorations. If left on the roses in the landscape, hips add interest and color, as well as food for birds and squirrels. They typically last until the first hard freeze of winter.

Only a few varieties are notable for showy hips so if you have them, its only natural to show them off. Let your neighbors talk!

Or, trim them …

Roses exert a tremendous amount of energy into the formation and nurturing of hips. In fact, they do so to the detriment of other factors, such as putting on more foliage and flowers.

Deadheading is the practice of removing spent flowers and hips. This process will create a surge of new growth and blooms as the plant enters the reproduction stage once again. So if you want an explosion of flowers in October and November, simply shear or prune off the hips now.

Carefree Beauty, Roemer’s Hip Happy, Bayse Blueberry, Penelope, Dortmund and Jeanne d’Arc are my favorite hip producing roses.

About the author: Mike Shoup is owner of The Antique Rose Emporium, a Texas nursery dedicated to the reintroduction of old garden roses.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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