Pasture rose (Rosa Carolina), the star of your native rose garden

For some reason, a garden is not a garden without roses. But why get any rose bush when you can get a beautiful native rose like Pasture rose (also known as Carolina rose). These wild roses will be the star of your native garden.

Carolina rose (Rosa carolina) is a perennial suckering bush native to eastern North America with beautiful pink flowers.

Pasture rose is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) and is a great choice for wild yards.

Pasture rose
Pasture rose flower (Rosa carolina)

This deciduous shrub can grow up to 6ft and does its best flowering in full sun. Ours is in partial shade and hasn’t flowered to its potential. This bush has only a few small thorns, and 2-inch wide flowers with 5 petals (our photo above is missing one). The fruit (the hip) starts green but then they turn into beautiful bright red rose hips in late summer/fall.

Carolina rose is native shrub with compound toothed leaves and small soft thorns.

rosa Carolina leaves
Pasture rose compound leaves
Carolina rose thorns
Carolina rose thorns

How to grow Carolina rose from seed

Growing Carolina rose from seed is not as easy as growing this native plant from a cutting as not all the seeds will be viable and some will take two years to sprout. When you are ready to grow this rose from seed, make sure you have enough seeds in case some fail.

You can buy seeds from native nurseries like Prairie Moon, or you can use your own if you already have a Carolina rose bush. In this case, you can follow these instructions:

  • In late summer, collect the rose hips. These should be red and plump. If they have started to dry out and look wrinkly it is best to leave them.
  • Open the hips and remove the seeds.
  • Stratify the seeds at 30F for three months.
  • After your last frost has passed, plant the seeds in your garden 1/2 inch deep. Water the seeds and keep the soil moist until they germinate.
  • If you plant the seeds in individual pots and not on the ground, do not discard the soil of the ones that haven’t germinated. Some seeds take two years to germinate. If you don’t want to keep the pots around, plant them on the ground where you might want to have another rose bush the year after.
rose bud

Do I need to prune my Rosa Carolina?

You normally don’t need to prune your wild rose bush. You can give it shape if you like.

Do not deadhead your Carolina rose, as by doing so you’ll be getting rid of the rose hips which provide food for the wildlife in your yard.

Carolina rose bush
One of our Carolina rose bushes

Wildlife value of Rosa Carolina

Pollinators will visit your native roses in the summer. Bumble bees, native bees and butterflies love them.

Birds like thrushes, redwings, and blackbirds will eat the rose hips. Squirrels, chipmunks, and cottontails are also fond of them.

Some more good news, Pasture rose is rabbit resistant AND deer resistant.

Common problems with Rosa Carolina

Carolina rose is very easy to grow and maintain and hardly gives any problems. Nevertheless, some of the issues you might face are:

  • Very few flowers: Carolina rose thrives in full sun and for them to flower at their fullest they need 8h of sun a day. Growing in partial sun will affect their number of flowers. A reminder that nitrogen-based fertilizers applied in early spring can stunt flower growth in roses and they should be applied later in the fall.
  • Foliar disease – yellow leaves: this might be caused by a fungal disease. If the yellow spotting is mild, the problem will probably resolve by itself. It is rare that Carolina rose will suffer from a heavy fungal disease. Their disease resistance is pretty good.
  • The rose bush spreads too much: Like many other roses, Carolina rose spreads through suckering, and a few years after planting, the suckers might spread a little too much. You can dig them up if they bother you, and plant the suckers somewhere else where you want another bush (see above for how to properly do this). Or knowing this, plant your wild rose bush in an area where you won’t mind having a bush overgrowing a little bit.

Other North American native roses

  • Common wild rose, prairie rose (Rosa virginiana)
  • Prairie wild rose (Rosa arkansana)
  • Illinois rose (Rosa setigera)
  • Early wild rose (Rosa blanda)
  • Swamp rose (Rosa palustris)
  • Woods’ rose (Rosa woodsii )
  • Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
  • California wildrose (Rosa californica)

Where to buy native roses

You can purchase Carolina Rose and other native plants at Prairie Moon Nursery, Carolina Native Nursery, and other native nurseries.

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