How do I grow rosa rugosa indoors?
July 8, 2009 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Oh hive mind: wield your mighty collective horticulture-fu to help me bring the seashore to my apartment! Help me figure out how to grow Rosa Rugosa inside and make my sweetheart happy!

The beach rose is my SO's (mefi's own Cygnet) favorite flower in the world, largely because of the smell. However, I can't find any resources for learning how to grow it inside. I know it's a little crazy, and that it isn't the sort of plant that one usually grows inside. But is it totally impossible? What will it take?

I have read that it requires well-drained sandy soil, that it doesn't tolerate fertilizer, and that it needs partial to full sun. I've found companies that will sell me either seeds or bare-root plants. I'm pretty good with plants, but I'm no expert, so I'm not very confident in my ability to improvise this.

My Cambridge, MA apartment gets some sun, but not a lot. We have windows with southeastern and southwestern exposure, including one bay window.

I would also appreciate any other general gardening tips regarding Japanese roses. Thanks!
posted by Salvor Hardin to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Rugosas are very hardy and tough.. have you tried just getting one, and growing it indoors? I'd go for bare-root over seeds; that way you'll have blooms sooner. Do you have any kind of patio or window it could be on from time to time? They only bloom for part of the year and they're very prickly all the time, so maybe you could have it on the patio, bring it in when it's in bloom, then back outside? I think good ventilation would help avoid blackspot, etc, but it should be a pretty tough plant anyway.
posted by The otter lady at 5:39 PM on July 8, 2009

The University of Washington in Seattle grows masses of beach roses in concrete planters. They get full sun, when there is any, but obviously they don't need to be in an extremely sunny, hot environment. In fact, when you think about it, beaches are frequently cold, damp and foggy as well as sandy and salty.

The main feature of this plant is its toughness. So buy a nice big container, fill it with potting soil -- maybe with a little perlite or sand mixed in -- and stick a bare-root plant in. Put it in the window with the most sun during the day. Keep it damp the first couple of weeks, but then let it dry out between waterings. It may not be covered in blossoms in the spring, but I'll bet there'll be some, and every time you or Cygnet look at it it'll make you feel good. (And if it dies, buy another and try again. Some plants have more flexibility and some plants have more life-force than others.)

Do NOT try growing roses from seeds. Therein lies madness and obsessive-compulsive crankiness.
posted by kestralwing at 5:49 PM on July 8, 2009

I have learned from my one experience with roses that benign neglect works better than fussiness. Do you have a terrace?
posted by francesca too at 6:34 PM on July 8, 2009

My biggest concern about growing these inside would be the thorns. These guys can get pretty big, and I imagine you'd need to prune them somewhat regularly once they get to a certain size. Unless you can find a small/dwarf cultivar? And you'll need to repot eventually, and that would be mighty tricky without getting hurt.

If you're not good at watering regularly (which you'll need to do in containers, most likely), I highly recommend self-watering containers by Gardener's Supply.

Otherwise, I think the best thing to do is to try it. I know that's not the greatest response, but I doubt many have tried before.
posted by evening at 4:04 AM on July 9, 2009

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