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Rose hips’ seedpods provide a pop of color in the fall and winter garden

by Madison Thomas
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Rose Hips Gardening

The rose, often celebrated as the “queen of flowers,” is not only famous for its aromatic and visual allure but also for its vibrant orange and red seedpods, known as hips, that emerge post-bloom. These hips, although not as frequently praised, add a burst of color to gardens during the fall and winter seasons, often remaining until they are consumed by birds.

Roses, like other fruit-bearing plants, develop fruit when their blossoms are left undisturbed. This fruit, the hip, encases a seed. However, not all roses are capable of producing hips. Many modern varieties are sterile, lacking this capability. For those interested in roses that yield sizeable, flavorful hips, it is recommended to explore varieties like rambling, shrub, and wild roses, particularly non-hybrid species. Notable examples include the glossy, scarlet hips of Rosa Virginiana, the small, deep red hips of Rosa glauca, and the sweet, large, cherry tomato-like hips of Rosa rugosa.

To enhance and maximize hip production, monthly applications of bloom-boosting fertilizer during the growing season are advised. Ceasing the practice of deadheading roses in August will also promote hip development from the last bloom cycle.

Rose hips are not just ornamental; they are rich in vitamin C and boast high levels of antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium. Their edibility is notable, although most varieties are too tart to consume raw and are often sweetened for use in jams, jellies, syrups, and tea-like beverages. Only hips from pesticide-free plants should be considered for consumption.

For harvesting, it is best to wait until after the first light frost, which enhances their flavor. Hips should be pulled or clipped off, discarding any that appear dried, shriveled, or rotted. To prepare hips for tea, first clean them, removing any remnants of petals and other debris, and rinse thoroughly. Small hips can be dried whole, but larger ones, like those from Rosa rugosa, should be halved with seeds and internal fibers removed before drying. These fibers, interestingly, are often used in itching powder, humorously referred to as the “king” of pranks.

Drying involves placing the cleaned hips in a dehydrator or on a baking sheet in an oven set to 100 degrees until they become brittle. Store them in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place. For a nutritious beverage, steep a teaspoon of dried hips in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, sweetening as desired.

For jams and jellies, clean and de-seed the hips, simmer for 15 minutes, strain the solids, and use the liquid in recipes. If rose hips don’t suit your taste, they can be used decoratively in seasonal arrangements.

Propagating roses from seeds can be challenging but rewarding. After extracting and rinsing the seeds from the hips, they need to be refrigerated in a moist paper towel inside a zipper-top bag for 6-10 weeks. Following this, seeds should be sown indoors in sterile seed-starting mix, keeping the soil moist. Germination can take 1-4 months and may have low success rates, so planting additional seeds is advised. Transplanted seedlings can be moved outdoors post-frost in spring.

This information is provided by Jessica Damiano, a renowned gardening columnist who authors the award-winning Weekly Dirt Newsletter and contributes regular columns for The AP. To receive weekly gardening tips and advice, one can sign up for her newsletter and find more AP gardening stories at the provided link.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rose Hips Gardening

What are the benefits of rose hips in the garden?

Rose hips provide a vibrant pop of color in fall and winter gardens. They are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium. Their ornamental value is complemented by their use in teas, jams, and decorative arrangements.

How can I increase rose hip production in my garden?

To boost rose hip production, apply bloom-boosting fertilizer monthly during the growing season. Also, stop deadheading your roses in August to allow the last blooms to develop into hips.

Are all rose hips edible?

Yes, all rose hips are edible but most are too tart to eat raw. They are commonly sweetened and used in jams, jellies, and teas. Ensure that the rose hips are from plants not treated with pesticides before consumption.

What is the process for preparing rose hips for tea?

To prepare rose hips for tea, remove any petal remnants and rinse them well. Dry small hips whole, but for larger hips, slice them in half and remove the seeds and internal fibers before drying.

How do you propagate roses from seed using rose hips?

To propagate roses from seed, extract seeds from the hips, rinse off pulp, and refrigerate in a moist paper towel inside a plastic bag for 6-10 weeks. Then sow them indoors in a sterile seed-starting mix, keeping the soil moist. Transplant the seedlings outdoors after the frost.

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