Simply The Best Natives-Swamp Rose

DSCN8629“He who cultivates a garden and brings to perfection flowers and fruits, cultivates and advances at the same time his own nature.”  ~Ezra Weston



When I saw this beautiful rose in late spring, I was so excited as it has taken a few years for it to finally bloom.  This is the lovely native plant, Rosa palustris, better known as Swamp Rose.  It is of course part of the Rose Family (Rosaceae).  The fragrant, pink, single roses are a bit short-lived, but it blooms throughout the later part of spring and into early summer (for 1-2 months), earlier than my non-native roses.

This tall shrub rose reaches heights of 8 feet with numerous branches and very thorny stems.  I grow one of mine in a pyramid trellis even though it doesn’t need the support.  It just looks like a climbing rose to me.

These beautiful native roses love wet, swampy/boggy areas and wet prairies as well as marshes and ditches.  You can find it growing on the shores of lakes and ponds too.  It is native to the Eastern half of North America from Nova Scotia down to Florida and Arkansas and from New England to Minnesota.

As I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme.


And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to purchase native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out her wonderful 2015 Spring Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.




Growing Conditions

 DSCN6758The Swamp Rose is hardy from zone 4 to 9.  It will grow in full or partial sun, but the less sunlight the fewer flowers the plant will produce.  And it must have wet to moist richer soil, so I do amend my clay with compost.  If you have areas that flood in the spring this rose will love it.  The one I have in the Bog Garden will be moved and well placed to take advantage of the moist areas in the garden.  While it likes it wet, it does not like to be in standing water all the time.  

This rose is usually not susceptible to the many diseases or insect pests that can be found on other roses especially hybrid roses.  And in the three years I have grown this plant, I have noticed no problems.  Give this rose good air circulation, and you can reduce foliar diseases and insect pests. 

The best time to prune this rose is in late winter, which means I need to get out in early spring once DSCN6361the snow melts. After three years, my main rose has spread by suckers.  And I am thinking of moving some of the suckers to other areas.  But I will choose the new spots carefully as this plant can naturalize easily.

Besides the great flowers, I love the look of the pea-sized red hips that form in fall.

You can propagate the Swamp Rose by stem cuttings or divisions. Softwood cuttings need to be treated with a growth hormone. Swamp Rose can also be planted by seeds extracted from the hips as soon as they are ripe.  Plant the seed in the cold fall to let it overwinter.




Benefits to Wildlife 

Both the flowers and hips benefit wildlife.  The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees.  Many other insects feed on the pollen and foliage.  And butterflies use this rose DSCN6757as a nectar source too.

Cedar Waxwings, and other berry eating songbirds, like the  rose hips as do small rodents like the White-Footed Mouse.  

And the White-Tailed Deer are said to browse the twigs and leaves keeping them pruned. I have not seen the deer browsing my native rose, preferring my hybrid roses instead.

There are also many birds that like to make their nests in tall roses like the Swamp Rose.  These include the Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Yellow Warbler, and Cardinal.  I would love to see any of these birds making nests in my Swamp Roses.





The Swamp Rose is perfect for any poorly draining area in your garden including rain gardens.  And DSCN7096plant them on the fringe of bog and water gardens.  Perhaps one near my pond might be a great addition too.

This rose is also lovely in fall as you can see here and in the collage at the end of the post.

And of course birds, butterflies and pollinators love it too. 




Folklore and Tales 

Native Americans tribes were said to use the bark and roots of this rose to combat dysentery.  

DSCN9434Roses in general are also said to be a cure for toothaches, earaches, stomach problems and nosebleeds.

Archeologists recently found the fossilized remains of an unidentified wild rose that are said to be over 40 million years old.  The remains were found in Colorado.

In the seventeenth century, French explorer Samuel de Champlain brought the first cultivated roses to North America.  I wonder if he ever saw the native Swamp Rose.

The world’s oldest living rose, thought to be 1,000 years old, is on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany.  

The rose is the State Flower of New York.  There is not one rose specified for this honor, but I like to think our native Swamp Rose should hold this distinction.

In the Language of Flowers a wild rose stands for Simplicity.  The pink rose represents Friendship, Grace, and Admiration.


swamp rose collage 

Do you grow Swamp Rose or any roses?  What is your favorite rose?



In A Vase On Monday 



As winter continues here in central New York State, I have more indoor bulbs blooming.  The big question now is how do I create a vase with another Hippeastrum bulb.  This one is ‘Red Lion’.  And the way this winter is going, most of my future vases will be with more Hippeastrum bulbs.




red amaryllis collage

The bulb comes up not looking red at all, but more coral and variegated.  As it opens, it turns redder until it is a brilliant crimson red.  I cut this when all four blooms had come out and were just opening.  

I decided to pair the flowers with the Chinese Evergreen or Aglaonema ‘Emerald Beauty’ that I used a few weeks ago.  I am glad many of the greens, I used in other vases recently, are staying fresh as I will need to reuse them given the unavailability of any greens in the garden buried in snow.




red amaryllis collage2

You can see I also added the Barberry branches (Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’) I also used a couple of weeks ago.  It was not easy getting the thorns past the flower blooms, but the effort was worth it.

I do love how it looks, where I finally placed it, on an antique sewing machine with a few props; a candle and a cherished picture of my mom and her sisters.

I am joining in with a few memes this week:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

On Friday, it will be time for another Seasonal Celebrations.  And next Monday, I will have another Gardens Eye Journal.  

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


84 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Swamp Rose”

  1. I love all kinds of roses. I have a few in my garden but for the life of me cannot remember their names right now. I love the flowers you have shared here. Thank you so much!

    1. I also do not know the names of my roses unless I look them up, but I do love them all…so glad you enjoyed my wild rose Denise.

  2. The Swamp rose is very pretty! It looks similar to the wild roses I see growing around here. Wonderful post and images. And your vase looks beautiful, a lovely arrangement! Have a happy day and week ahead!

  3. wouldn’t say no to seeing lots more vases with the Hippeastrum Donna, they are beautiful and as we’ve agreed before they really do look better in a vase than growing on their long stems. Your additions are perfect so it is great they lasted from previous vases. Have a good week, Christina

    1. Thanks Christina….I have really had loads of fun figuring new ways to display the Hippeastrum….and I expect I will have enough until the end of March when we might start getting a few blooms out in the garden.

  4. Your Hippeastrum offering today is fabulous and I love the nostalgic setting you’ve created. The coral color of the flower is as lovely as the rich red is later. I too have found the greenery used in some vases are quite long-lasting.

    1. Thanks Susie….I am already planning for next year as I want to have more blooms and greens indoors for winter. Glad you liked the vase….it has been interesting coming up with new vases for these beautiful blooms.

  5. There is a corner house with a swamp rose near the sidewalk that I stop to smell every morning on my walk when it’s in bloom. A heavenly fragrance! It also produces the biggest rose hips that I’ve seen.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Donna.

    1. Oh lucky you Judith to be able to smell these every day. I am trying to strategically place new volunteers so I can be closer to their scent. I also think they have one of the biggest hips…

  6. Hi Donna, Do you think the Barberry bushes need plenty of sun? Once again I’m faced with losing the brilliance of some of my berry bushes (and especially my Nandina Domestica) as the woods in the back of our property get fuller and provide more and more shade. I can’t very well get rid of tall trees, but I could move the bushes….they are pretty big, do you think they would survive a transplant?

    1. I am not an expert on Barberry but all of mine did well in sun. I got rid of them when the State reported them growing wild in forests and that they were taking up space where wildflowers once grew. They are considering banning them for sale here.

      I would imagine as they are resilient that they will grow in part shade and take transplanting well.

  7. I grow Swamp Rose, too, Donna and like you have never had any disease or pest problems. The bees in my garden love this rose. It is planted next to the Potager. I hope the hips provided food for my birds this winter. I would so love it if the Catbird or a Cardinal nested in mine! Mine is also sending out suckers. I think it will look so pretty in your bog garden. I also grow Prairie Rose which has really taken off. It has swallowed up and spit out what chain link fence I have left. I am going to have to prune it somehow. Wild, native roses are my favorite.

    1. Now that is interesting Karen….I had not read that. Is it any wild rose as there are native and invasive non-native wild roses? The native ones have pink flowers and the non-natives are white.

  8. I love the concept of archeologists finding the fossilized remains of an unidentified wild rose over 40 million years old – and that there is a 1000 year old rose on Hildesheim Cathedral. Wonderful 🙂 The scarlet of your Red Lion is really brought out by the barberries and the evergreen foliage (was hoping to see more of your vintage sewing machine though!!) – and I really admire your efforts to find material to fill a vase every week, even throughout your severe winter. Thank you so much for inspiring us with your dedication, Donna.

    1. I promise to use the sewing machine again Cathy and show more of it…..I am glad I decided to do this every week….it has helped me get through the cold and very snowy winter and it has really allowed me to use my creativity in ways I could not have imagined. So I thank you Cathy!

  9. I was surprised by the color change in your Hippeastrum from bud to vase. The vase is a cheerful composition. I hope that snow abates soon! The weather is bordering on the ridiculous.

    1. Yes ridiculous cold Kris but the snow is actually normal but ridiculous when you don’t live here….my garden is safe and nurtured with the snow so I don’t mind….but we do hope the winds shift soon. Happy you enjoyed the vase this week. I’ll be popping over to see yours soon! 🙂

  10. Oh, the swamp rose is so beautiful and very interesting (native to wet ground) as well! The colour is a really lovely, tender pink.
    I have a small project, to propagate a native rose (fragrant, single, and pink) to be placed in many sunny, dry spots around our home. At the moment I’m not certain if mine is R. dumalis, acicularis, or perhaps majalis, but I will try to study it in the near future… and also to get better photos of it/them.
    Thank you for the beautiful post and have a great week!

  11. Swamp roses are a new term to me, so looked that up, what a beautiful rose Donna and one that really likes boggy soil too. Do you expect your snow to go soon?

    1. Yes actually Julie we will see the winds shift starting this weekend they say, and hope to have a slow melt through March. I can’t see where we won’t have flooding with all the snow melting at once now.

  12. A lovely rose Donna which reminds me of our native rosa canina or dog rose although the flower of your swamp rose looks a deeper and more solid pink. What fascinating tales that rose at Hildesheim Cathedral could tell! You certainly seem to be having a severe winter and must be getting really fed up by now. That beautiful and bright amaryllis must provide you with a more than welcome splash of colour. Hang on in there 🙂

    1. Yes Anna the indoor vases are helping me deal with this severe stretch of weather we are having although today we are having sunshine with wind chills of -25. But I will take the sun. I had heard from a few other that my rose resembled your native, rosa canina, so I looked it up. And yes it is so similar… is a lovely native rose.

  13. An inspired combination of the red hippeastrum with the red berries of your barberry. I have already made several notes to myself to remember to get some more hippeastrum bulbs next autumn to keep me going through the late winter months! Also lovely to read about your rose, which looks similar to our European wild rose, the dog rose (Rosa canina).

    1. Thanks Cathy. I think I will also get a couple more in different colors too and maybe more paperwhites and a few other bulbs and plants….the vases do help in the gray, cold, snowy days.

      I looked up the rosa canina and it is very similar.

    1. I love that they grow this rose in the park Donna. The red flowers of this bulb do pop and are perfect for February. I have many more that will bloom so it will be fun to figure out different ways to display them.

    1. I bet it is R. blanda Kathy. Swamp Rose is very thorny, but a virtually thornless rose would be lovely. I will have to find a seller as I want to add more native roses. They do grow so much easier.

  14. that swamp rose is gorgeous, all the more so because it is native. I can’t recall ever having seen a rose in the wild, must be an awesome sight.

  15. Donna, I have enjoyed reading your post about the swamp rose, the rose is lovely, Frances

  16. My all time favorite rose is Scarlet Knight…the bud is nearly black and the blossom opens to a deep velvety red!!

    Love your flowers and all the info you shared today which I found from your link posted at Nature Notes..

  17. Magical amaryllis, Donna! I just one week put the swamp rose’s cuttings in a pot for rooting. I hope they are healthy and will have new roots.

  18. Wow.. it is beautiful and i was excited until I saw what it needs to grow and I don’t have anyplace like that in my garden…Lovely flowers…guess I have to start planning for the garden.. All I have in my head is planning for that new baby….Michelle

    1. Yes this rose needs a wet sunny location. I think you are probably busy with your daughter and the new baby Michelle, but gardening does help me relax and take my mind off of things.

  19. A lovely rose! I’m not surprised this native has fewer problems than the hybrids, but I chuckled at the comment that the deer leave this one alone and nibble on the hybrids instead:) If I only had a boggy spot for it, this is one rose I would enjoy having!

  20. I just love that swamp rose–it sounds like it’s excellent for attracting and feeding wildlife-a win/win: nice for you to enjoy, while providing for wildlife.

  21. The swamp rose is beautiful! I definitely plan to look into planting these in my garden. Will have to do some research to see if they grow well in TN. Thanks for sharing this!

  22. I love the color of the swamp roses. We have had some of the non-native ones appear around our property, and we removed them because they can become invasive. The swamp roses look so similar to the Rugosa Rose. My Rugosa rose has not flowered very well in the last few years. Do you think maybe it needs to be sited in a more wet area like the swamp rose? Or it could be it’s not getting as much sun as it did a few years ago.
    Loved your beautiful photos!

  23. I have never heard of a swamp rose before, it looks so pretty.
    I love your red Hippeastrums in an arrangement.
    I hope you will get to see your outside treasures soon.

  24. I enjoyed reading about your native rose and seeing the photos. I can’t tell if there are 2 or 3 pollinators on the bloom in the first photo. I don’t have room for anything like that, and have chosen not to grow roses, except for one I got from a clearance table at a local nursery with no tags. It has grown in our parking strip about 5 years with no fertilizing or any other treatments other than some pruning, and last year, there were some self sown ones that grew a few inches tall, and bloomed! I was surprised. I don’t think it’s a native, but the blooms are single and small. The main plant gets about 2 or 3 feet tall.

    Thanks for your comment on my WW post. I hope your snow melts soon.

    1. There are 3 actually Sue…good spotting. This can get to be a big rose, but it is the spreading an suckering that has to be watched. Your rose sounds lovely and how great when we can find a great rose at a bargain.

      I do enjoy your blog and seeing what wonderful plants you have growing. Thanks for your visit too!

  25. I have never grown the swamp rose but my goodness I can see why you are drawn to it! That bloom is not only beautiful but so unique! And your vase is so rich and stunning Donna! Thanks for passing along this rose! Have a great end to your week! Nicole

    1. It does beckon one to it and the pollinators go crazy. I am looking forward to seeing it more this year. Enjoy this week, Nicole, as we move closer to spring.

  26. When we moved out here to our 4 acres, there was a thicket of some kind of wild rose on the property next to ours. We took some cuttings from it to root; only 1 rooted and has started a small thicket out back. I don’t know if it is a swamp rose or not but I can tell you, that rose has the world’s most wicked thorns!

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