Rick’s Native Plants of the Month | Virginia Rose & Carolina Rose

June 21, 2024

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Not all roses are exotic. Eastern North America is home to at least 3 species, including Virginia rose and the Carolina rose (Rosa carolina), also known as the pasture or prairie rose. Adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions, from wet to dry, from sun to part shade, Carolina rose can be found along the edges of woodlands and prairies, along roadside, railroads and streams. As with most any plant, it does best in full sun and well-drained soil with consistent moisture.

Carolina rose spreads by its roots and usually forms thickets of erect branches, 3-6 feet tall. Leaves are pinnately compound, just like most roses, dark green in summer and dull red in October. Fragrant, pink, 5-petaled flowers appear singly at the ends of new growth in June into July. There is no repeat blossoming, but bright red rose hips are an attractive feature late in the season.

A pollinator plant for many bees and for sphinx moths, Carolina rose is great for planting in shrub borders and for naturalizing.

Note: If you have a constantly wet area in your garden, consider this other native, Rosa palustris, the swamp rose. Appearance and uses are similar to Carolina rose.

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