Roses are usually known as decorative plants, but they can also be useful. Learn how to grow rosehips in your garden – or on your patio – for medicinal use…
A well-known herbal remedy in natural health circles, rosehips can be a beautiful and useful addition to your garden. Rosehips are the seed pods of the rose bush, although many gardeners deadhead their roses, and therefore never see the hips form. Some rose species have also been bred to reduce the size of the hips, or eliminate them altogether. However, there are many species of roses that still produce these pods.
Following the flowering stage of the rose, many rosehips are also quite attractive in their own right, and they can be used for a number of traditional medicinal purposes, as well as providing a valuable source of food for native wildlife. Rose hips can come in different sizes and shapes, in colors ranging from yellow to orange to purple or red.
Some of the best rose varieties for producing rose hips include:
- Rosa Spinosissima
An ancient rose with delicate, fern-like foliage and creamy-white flowers. Useful for its early flowering and its unfussy nature. The hips are globular and ink-black. Grows equally well on clay or sandy soils.
- Rosa Rugosa
This rose has the most recognizable of all hips. Huge, tomato-like, bright-red fruits adorn the thorny shrub from early September and persist until the birds find them. Flowers are single, sweetly scented with prominent soft-yellow stamens.
- Rosa Canina
Our native dog rose may have an unruly habit, but its fragrant flowers are exquisite… Flowers are followed by ovoid, red fruits.
- Rosa Fritz Nobis
Blush-pink double flowers are followed in late autumn by an abundance of orange, balloon-shaped hips.
How to Grow Rosehips:
- Hip-bearing roses should not be pruned until January, or until the rosehips have naturally withered.
- Whether climbers, ramblers, or bushes, however, all should be trained using the same principle – a technique of pulling the long, supple wands of growth down in an arc and anchoring them in position. The reason for bending the shoots horizontally is to prevent the sap from simply rising to the top of each stem; instead, flowers will be encouraged to break out from every joint.
- The basic principles of removing dead, diseased, weak, and crossing growth apply, and all of the remaining shoots should be shortened by about a third.
- A proportion of the older wood should be removed completely to encourage strong growth shoots from the base. The aim is to form a framework with a balance between flowering wood and growth wood. The harder you prune and the less you bend, the more extension growth you’ll get.
- Shoots bent horizontally will be studded with flowers, followed by hips, along their entire length.
- To make the most of the hips, stop deadheading by mid-August to allow sufficient time for the flowers that follow to set fruits.
If you don’t have a large garden, roses are also quite easy to grow in pots. Check out this article for some tips.
Health Benefits of Rosehips
Rosehips are especially known for being high in vitamin C, which helps to support the immune system. In fact, according to this article, “one teaspoon of rosehips contains the equivalent amount of vitamin C as eating 5-6 oranges!” However, rosehips are more versatile and easier to grow than oranges – especially in cooler climates – so they can be a great way to increase your self-sufficiency if you are looking to take charge of your own health.
Rose hips are also believed to help with…
…gastric spasms, gastric acid deficiency, preventing gastric mucosal inflammation and gastric ulcers, and as a “stomach tonic” for intestinal diseases. It is also used orally for diarrhea, gallstones, gallbladder ailments, lower urinary tract and kidney disorders, dropsy (edema), gout, aging skin, disorders of uric acid metabolism, arthritis, sciatica, diabetes, increasing peripheral circulation, for reducing thirst, as a laxative and diuretic, and to treat chest ailments.
Once you’ve harvested your rosehips, you will want to dehydrate them for long-term storage, and then you can use them in a number of ways, from teas to tinctures to powder and more. Check out this article for lots more about preparing and using rosehips.