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Monday - June 30, 2008

From: Mt. Vernon, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Absence of blooms in non-native Rosa rugosa
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a rosa rugosa in my yard that was here when I moved in..and it has never bloomed. It is in a sunny spot, but there are never any flowers..not even a single bud on this trailing plant. I cut it back somewhat in the early spring to see if that would help, but still no flowers. Any ideas why and what I can do to make it produce flowers? Thank you for any help you may have.


First, take a look at this hort.net website Rosa rugosa, and make sure we're talking about the right plant. This is a native of northern China, Korea and Japan and, therefore, not in our Native Plant Database. According to this USDA Plant Profile on the Rosa rugosa, it should grow quite well in Maine. The only reasons that we could come up with for its non-blooming condition is that it is either getting too much nitrogen by being fertilized by lawn fertilizer, or it is not getting sufficient drainage. It is a plant that requires very good drainage, and as you will see from the USDA site, will even grow on beach sand. However, poor drainage would be more likely to cause leaf chlorosis and possibly, then, inhibit blooming.

Since this plant is not one you have planted and cherished or a family heirloom, and it is not performing well for you, you might consider digging it up (very carefully, this is one thorny plant!) and replacing it with a plant native to your area. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we always advocate use of plants native to the area in which they are being grown, as they will perform better, requiring less water, fertilizer and maintenance. In case you make this decision, you can go to our Recommended Species section, select Maine from the map, and search for plants that will suit your purposes. We have selected a few as examples:


Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) 

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)


Rhus copallinum (winged sumac)

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Viburnum lantanoides (hobblebush)

Asclepias tuberosa

Coreopsis lanceolata

Lupinus perennis

Monarda didyma

Rhus copallinum

Viburnum dentatum

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Viburnum lantanoides




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