Virginia wild rose: Plant This, Not That

Although it is a very fine shrub, maple-leaved viburnum is certainly not the only native shrub that could replace the dreary and invasive European burning bush euonymus in all manner of landscaping in southern Ontario. The euonymus has little going for it besides fall colour and weedy endurance. Our native shrubs provide all sorts of options for vivid fall foliage displays, and by picking the right shrub for the right situation, it becomes less important to select plants that will put up with anything.

Our native roses not only provide fragrant pink flowers in June and bright red hips for wild life, their leaves colour very well in the autumn. One of the best for fall colour is the Virginia wild rose, Rosa virginiana. It has been the most fragrant of the native roses I have grown in my garden, which, beside R. virginiana, have been R. nitida, and R. carolina. It has fine burnished mahogany red stems for colour all winter. Not a dwarf shrub, the Virginia wild rose gets about 6 feet tall and it will sucker rather vigorously in light, sandy soil. Planting it in heavy clay soil curbs its sideways spread but doesn’t seem to harm the plant, but even so, plant it where its arching thorny stems will have a bit of room. Like most roses, it needs more sun than shade. Other than that, it is not at all fussy. It blooms a little later than other species roses, often escaping the worst of the bud worm caterpillars.

Virginia wild rose
Fall foliage of Virginia wild rose, beside a parking lot.
Virginia wild rose
Red hips of Virginia wild rose in garden.

Published by

Trish Murphy

Artist: botanical, still life, and natural history illustration. Garden designer: native plants and naturalistic gardens