Reliable Rugosas

Fragrant, trouble-free rugosa roses are a natural choice for organic gardeners.

By Wes Hunsberger

Photography by Cameron Sadeghpour


Rugosa roses have many sterling qualities to recommend them. Flowers produced by these hardy and carefree shrubs will delight you with their spicy perfumes—some of the strongest and sweetest scents found in roses. The old-fashioned shapes of the double varieties are lovely, and the colors found in rugosas in fall and winter are a welcome addition to the garden. Give rugosas a try, and see for yourself how their remarkable beauty comes without the typical problems of other roses.

Recommended Rugosa Roses

  • Rosa rugosa var. alba. Single pure white blooms with typical spicy fragrance, followed by orange hips; almost always in bloom.
  • 'Basye's Purple'. Striking single wine red blooms with purple stamens; unusual dark purple canes.
  • 'Blanc Double de Coubert'. Double sparkling white blooms; rich, somewhat fruity perfume.
  • 'Fimbriata'. Small semidouble flowers, mainly white with a pale pink blush; the petals are fringed like a dianthus blossom.
  • 'Jens Munk'. Semidouble rich pink flowers; a hardy Canadian rose.
  • 'Henry Hudson'. Semidouble white blooms from pink buds; a small shrub rose.
  • 'Martin Frobisher'. Pale pink double flowers; another Canadian rose, striking in winter with purple canes.
  • 'Moore's Striped Rugosa'. Double blooms, raspberry purple striped with white; harder to locate in nurseries but well worth the effort.
  • 'Mrs. Doreen Pike'. Warm pink blooms packed with frilly petals; developed by David Austin.
  • 'Rose à Parfum de l'Hay'. Semidouble crimson-purple flowers; one of the most fragrant roses ever produced.
  • 'Souvenir de Philémon Cochet'. Fully double blooms are packed with pristine white, ruffled petals, sometimes with a blush of pale pink; intoxicating scent.
  • 'Thérèse Bugnet'. Double rose-red blooms fading to pink; very hardy with colorful red canes and a sweet scent.
  • 'Topaz Jewel'. Semidouble light yellow blooms; a smaller shrub than many other rugosas.