How to Grow Rose Hips

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Days to germination: Usually grown from seedlings
Days to harvest: Full harvest in second year
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Water during dry weather
Soil: Light sandy soil
Container: Yes


Rose hips are simply the seed pods of the rose plant. They aren’t a kind of plant themselves. The hips are the “fruit” of the rose plant, looking somewhat like a tiny crab apple or cherry, and full of seeds.

For the best hips, plant a Rugosa variety of rose. Rugosa roses are known to spread, and are frequently grown as a decorative hedge. They’re perennials, and will keep growing year after year between zones 4 to 7.

One of the great things about growing rose hips, is that you can enjoy the beautiful flowers all summer long before you have to harvest your hips. They’re a perfect “crop” for the flower garden.

Though Rugosa produces the best hips, other varieties of roses do as well. A basic guideline is that hips won’t form on roses that produce blooms with tightly packed petals, like tea roses. Rugosas come in white, red and many shades of pink.

They are not used for many culinary purposes, mainly to add a hint of tangy sweetness to teas and jellies. They also contain a large amount of vitamin C. On average, rose hips have 20 times more C in them than oranges do.


Home gardeners don’t start roses from seed, you buy cuttings or seedlings.

Choose a location that will get a lot of sun, and can handle the plants growing to a height close to 5 feet. Rugosa roses will grow into a very dense and thorny shrub, so don’t plan on using it too close to any walkways or paths. Brushing up against the rose bush can be unpleasant and prickly.

Dig a hole large enough for the roots of your rose seedling, and plant it to the same depth as it was in its original pot. You don’t need to add any compost or fertilizer, but give it a generous watering.

Growing Instructions

Rugosa roses are extremely hardy, and are known to grow in the wild in the most inhospitable places. Water it regularly until it starts to produce new growth and get established. Once growing well, you should only need to water it during a drought.

To get the hips to form, you have to leave your dead rose blossoms on the bush. It may not look that attractive but it’s necessary to let the plant produce its fruit. You really need to keep this in mind when your roses are in full bloom. If you’re growing them for the hips, you cannot cut the flowers to bring inside. Just enjoy them on the plant.

There are several fertilizer products on the market designed particularly for roses. A feeding with these each season will keep your plants strong, though it not strictly necessary.


Though they can grow into large shrubs, you can certainly grow roses in containers. You will need a large pot, 5 to 10 gallons in size for each rose bush. Water a potted rose a little more often than a garden-planted one, but don’t let it get water-logged. Your container should have very good drainage.

Use regular soil without added compost, and even add a little sand to help with draining.

Pests and Diseases

Once the flowers die back, the birds are going to be as interested in the hips as you are. The prickly plants are naturally protected from such pests, but you can still lose a lot of your harvest to determined birds. Cover your roses with netting, or mount a fake owl nearby to scare off the birds.

The leaves of your rose plants can be attacked by June beetles or Japanese beetles. You can handpick them off whenever you see them, or spray with insecticidal soap.

Roses can also suffer from stem canker, a fungus that usually attacks the stems but can also effect the flowers. You will first notice brown or reddish patches on the stems of your roses, that eventually dry out and leave a shrunken lesion on the branch. If it goes all the way around the stem, the branch will die off above that point.

Fungicides can help, and you can help prevent it with a bit of care. Prune out any dead branches in the shrub and try to remove any that are rubbing against each other. If you do water your roses, do so at the soil not over the leaves. The water will spread the fungus spores.

Whether you are using fungicide or pesticide, make sure you get one intended for edible plants. Buying products for roses may make your hips toxic because the sprays are not formulated for “food plants”. Any products that are labeled for vegetables or fruits will work fine.

Harvest and Storage

Your plants will likely produce some small hips even after the first season, but they won’t be a full crop of them until the second year.

Roses will bloom (and therefore produce hips) on the outside of the shrub, so you shouldn’t have to reach in between the prickly branches to snip off the hips. Even so, it’s a good idea to wear gloves at harvest time.

Most rose hips will be ripe for picking just after the first frost. Orange hips are not quite ripe, but deep red ones are over-ripe. You have to judge the right color in between to get the highest levels of vitamin C. They should be just slightly soft, not mushy.

Use clippers to snip the rose hips off each stem. Spread them out in the sun and let them dry until you notice their skins starting to wrinkle up slightly. You need to slice each hip in half, and scrape out the little seeds. Once the seeds are out, leave the hips to dry out completely.

After they are dried, you can store them in the refrigerator for several months. If you freeze them, they will keep for a year or longer.

18 Responses to “How to Grow Rose Hips”

  1. Gordon E Hahn  Says:



  2. mike  Says:

    my rose never makes any seeds always flowers and no seeds plus i noticed that the wild rose flower looks flatter and mine looks fatter i want mine to make seeds like the wild rose does

  3. LeAnn Craddock  Says:

    This was great! Just exactly what I was looking for. Now all I need is how to make pancake syrup from the hips. Thank you!

  4. Karen  Says:

    I was in Maine on Little Cranberry Island and picked some of the rose hips.
    I have taken the seeds out of the out casing and want to know what I need to do with the seeds so that I can plant them next year?
    Please explain to me what and how do I do this.
    thank you for you time

  5. Marilyn Shoults  Says:

    Can knockout roses have rose hips? Are they hybrids or grafted. Will they make seeds for the hybrid or the roses rose or the graft rose? I found some hips on some of my knockout roses today, was not sure what they were until I checked on your site.Thank you.

  6. dia Beekman  Says:

    We have rugosa bushes and they flower beautifully but we don’t get any seeds, what can we do?

  7. dia Beekman  Says:

    We have rugosa bushes but they never make any seeds, what can we do?

  8. Tanya Poff  Says:

    I was wondering if you could also harvest rose hips during the spring or even summer? If they were left on the bush all winter, would they sitll have the same nutritional benefit? Thanks

  9. Dan Porter  Says:

    I have wild roses growing along my driveway and in my landscaping in Montana. All winter long ,even when its freezing, I pick 3 or 4 hips, pop them in my mouth to hydrate, and enjoy a delicious apple flavored “tea”. I either swallow the seeds for vitamin E, or spit them out along the driveway in hopes some will germinate and make new plants.

  10. Carey  Says:

    I see several people have Rugosa roses not hips, me too, very strange. No answers out there???? Other wild roses are producing a regular abundance of hips, but the species Rugosa not so, and I bought it especially for hips 🙁 !

  11. Ethelyn  Says:

    Is it the seeds or the pod that has the high vitamin c?

    Can I pot the plant and bring it inside in winter OR even just grow one inside for rosehips in winter?

  12. AC  Says:

    If you’re harvesting stuff from “Wild Roses” BEWARE. There is an invasive species of rose called multiflora that can spread, kill other plants and eventually lead to the decline of animal life including song birds. If you see this type of rose spray it with a weed killer all over the leaves.

  13. William R Moys  Says:

    I want to grow Rose Hips as a hedge around my pool, in Portugal, how far apart should I plant them?

  14. rachid  Says:

    Hi ;

    Could please tell me from where I can buy the rose hip seeds.


  15. Administrator  Says:

    any rose will do technically

  16. veronica  Says:

    what do I do after putting hips in water and bleach??

  17. Deb  Says:

    I have rose hip bushes but I do not get the berries they show in the picture same leaves and same flower but the seed pod is small and brownat the end of the summer why no hips?

  18. Tom Surlas  Says:

    I worked in Massachusettes in the early mid 80s and found a Big Old Hotel on the mountain that had plenty of wild rose border around the driveway. The rose hips were the most unusual fruit at the end of the summer. They were a terrific flavor and most unique thing I have ever tasted. I wasn’t sure what they were but they were great. I will follow any direction You could give me to produce that outcome. Thank you…

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