Description & Overview

Carolina Rose is a tough, adaptable native shrub found throughout Wisconsin except in a few northeast counties. Naturally growing in open thickets, fence rows, open woods, and along railroads, this prickly shrub has slender woody stems with flowers clustered at the top. Fragrant, pink flowers with yellow centers bloom in mid-to-late June. Later in the season, bright red rose hips appear and are a favorite of fruit-eating birds. Carolina Rose may also be known as Pasture Rose.

Core Characteristics

Category: Shrub

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 1-4 feet

Mature Spread: 3-6 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Upright, spreading, naturalizes

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Well - draining, dry - moderate moisture

Flower: Pink, 2 - 3" wide, fragrant, 5 - petaled, borne on the current year's growth

Bloom Period: June – July

Foliage: Dark green, 5 - 7 leaflets

Fall Color: Yellow to red

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Showy red hips, smooth

Suggested Uses

Carolina Rose prefers medium to wet, well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight. While it can tolerate some shade, it flowers best in full sun. A hard worker, it can withstand drought and fires and is indiscriminate about pH levels. With regard to soil, the leaner the better as it helps maintain a smaller and more manageable size for residential landscapes. Conversely, rich and loamy soil will send this plant into overdrive and it will grow and spread pretty aggressively. This is great if you want to fill in an area and are okay with free-ranging roses.

Its thorns make an excellent defense mechanism for this plant, but also an effective barrier or hedge. Keep out the undesirables with a planting of Carolina Rose.

With a deep taproot, it spreads through rhizomes which helps stabilize banks and prevents soil erosion.

If your pollinator garden is of a decent size, or the area you wish to naturalize is fairly large, Carolina Rose is a good option. It draws beneficial insects and supports wildlife, and is low-maintenance provided it has room to spread as it is intended.

Carolina Rose is a tough, adaptable native shrub found throughout Wisconsin except in a few northeast counties. Naturally growing in open thickets, fe…

Wildlife Value

Carolina Rose is a host plant to the Apple Sphinx (Sphinx gordius), Poecila Sphinx (Sphinx poecila), Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americanum), Yellow-headed Cutworm moth (Apamea amputatrix), Io moth (Automeris io), Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia), Lymantria dispar, and Ultronia Underwing (Catocala ultronia).

Frequent visitors include bumblebees, Syrphid flies, smaller bees, mining bees, sweat bees (Lasioglossum spp.), and specialist bees including Rose Miner bees (Andrena melanochroa), Cinquefoil Masked bees (Hylaeus basalis), and Purplish Coppers (Lycaena helloides).

Crab Spiders often sit in the flowers waiting to attack prey, such as the above visitors. Some crab spiders change the color of their bodies to match the flower they are hunting in. Once successful in their hunt, they will chew a small and regurgitate digestive fluids into the prey’s body. This will dissolve the prey’s internal organs and then the spider sucks out the liquefied meal.

The rose hips persist through winter and into the following spring, providing wildlife with food.

Maintenance Tips

Provide good air circulation to promote healthy foliage and growth. A mulch layer around the plant will help reduce stress and help keep roots moist.

Deadhead spent blooms to improve the appearance of the shrub.

Remove any diseased areas or spots with winter injury using clean shears in early spring. Blooms are on previous years’ side branches.

Vegetative offsets will pop up. If spread is not wanted, mowing can keep these in check.

Carolina Rose is a tough, adaptable native shrub found throughout Wisconsin except in a few northeast counties. Naturally growing in open thickets, fe…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: No
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

Carolina Rose doesn’t suffer from many of the diseases and pests that seem to plague hybrid roses. Native and low maintenance!

Japanese beetles, aphids, borers, scale, thrips, midges, and leafhoppers are all potential pests.

Deer and rabbits will nibble on leaves, buds, twigs, and rosehips, though, due to the prickles it is not their preferred meal.

Leaf Lore

The genus Rosa is the Latin word for “rose.” The specific epithet Carolina means “of North or South Carolina.”

Rose hips are high in Vitamin C and are often used in teas, jellies, syrups, soups, and baby foods! However, there is a layer of hairs around the seeds just below the flesh of the fruit. These hairs can irritate the mouth and digestive tract.

The rosary comes from the practice in medieval Europe of using dried rose hips to make strings of prayer beads.

The Menominee ate the fruit skin for stomach troubles.

Carolina Rose has hybridized with another native rose, the Sunshine Rose (Rosa arkansana).

Companion Plants

Combine Carolina Rose with those that enjoy similar site conditions. Options include New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens), Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Wild Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis), Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Willowleaf Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana), Prairie Blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya), Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata), and Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa).

Carolina Rose is a tough, adaptable native shrub found throughout Wisconsin except in a few northeast counties. Naturally growing in open thickets, fe…
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Written by Beth DeLain