Can Roses Be Planted As A Hedge?

There’s something about a rose hedge that cannot be found in a hedge of any other plant material. Its natural, informal beauty appeals to everyone, even when it is not in flower, and when in bloom, it is delightful beyond expression. 

It’s true, of course, roses may take a little more care than some other types of hedge, and you do have to take precautions against being scratched whenever you work on it.

Hedge RosesPin

But who will deny that both the effort and the precautions are repaid many times over?

Two Classes Of Rose Hedges

Rose hedges may be divided into two classes—those which consist of self-supporting bushes and those in which a fence or trellis is covered with climbers. 

In the South and along the Pacific Coast, the choice of suitable varieties for either purpose is quite wide, as many of the more tender types, such as the old Noisettes, Cherokees, and Hybrid Teas, are well adapted to the purpose. 

Throughout the greater part of the country, however, the choice is somewhat restricted and must be confined to those varieties which are dependably hardy, or at least hardy with light protection.

Old-time varieties include:

  • REV. P.

PAGE-Roamers and the RADIANCE roses are a few of the wide attractive varieties that can be used successfully in sections that do not experience low winter temperatures. 

Farther north, they are of little value, however, since they are not sufficiently hardy to maintain themselves as a year-round hedge and must be cut back so severely each spring that it is midsummer before they again become “a hedge.”

The Polyantha roses are somewhat more tolerant of cold and can be grown farther north. Though not sufficiently hardy to be used for hedges in the extreme north, they are ideal for that in-between area that constitutes the greater part of our country.

Since hardiness plays such an important part, choosing varieties is a serious matter and must be carefully considered. Therefore, observing how some of the preferred varieties grow in your locality is advisable.

A Rose Hedge

Whether formed of bush or rose climbers, it must be dependably hardy and of suitable growth. But no rose can be successfully made to form a stiff, formal hedge, and if such a hedge is desired, the material should be boxwood, taxus, or privet, not roses. 

The greatest charm of the rose is in its gracefulness and bloom, and both will be lost by “barbering.”

The rose produces flower buds at points that would be sacrificed if the plant were clipped to produce a box-like effect. However, a certain amount of restrictive pruning is usually permissible and quite often necessary.

The most attractive hedges are those in which only one or, at most, two or three varieties of similar habit are used. When more than one variety is planted, color harmony must be considered. I prefer a hedge planted to one variety only.

Making The Trellis

When planting a hedge of roses, it must be borne in mind that the hedge is to remain in the same spot for a long time and that repairs to the posts or wires, or the replacement of them, will become increasingly difficult as the plants increase in size. 

It is advisable, therefore, to choose long-lasting material for the posts. For this purpose, I have found nothing better than a galvanized pipe of at least 1 1/2-inch size.

Related; More on About Hedge of Roses

Set The Posts In Place

First, dig a narrow hole 30″ to 36″ inches deep and fill this with soft concrete. Then drive the pipe into the soft concrete and brace it to hold it perpendicularly until it hardens. 

Finally, place a tin collar, to serve as a form, around the base of the post and fill this also with concrete so that the concrete is brought up 2″ or 3″ inches above the level of the surrounding soil. This last step is done to prevent rusting of the pipe at the ground level.

If a more rustic effect is desired, wooden posts may be used instead of the pipe. These should be wood resistant to rot, such as:

  • Oak
  • Cypress
  • Locus
  • Osage orange

As an added precaution, they should be treated with a preservative material such as creosote, which serves the purpose well and is inexpensive.

The posts, whether metal or wood, should not be spaced more than 10′ feet apart and must be stiff and firm.

Heavy galvanized wires, no lighter than 10 gauge, should be drawn between the posts, horizontally with the ground, at about 1′ foot apart. 

The wires should be wrapped securely around the end posts, which may need bracing, and should be as taut as possible. If the in-between posts are wood, the wires may be attached with staples. 

If the posts are of steel pipe, holes should be drilled through them. If cost is of secondary importance, a 3/8 inch pipe may be used instead of wire.

Wire Netting

Which is commonly used, is less satisfactory than horizontal wires, as the growth becomes entangled in the mesh and is difficult to remove when priming.

How To Prepare A Rose Hedge

Another important matter to consider when planting a rose hedge is soil preparation. Here, too, renewal is difficult, and for satisfactory long-term results, it is advisable to spade the soil deeply and incorporate a reasonable amount of peat moss or similar organic material into it. 

Chemical fertilizers can, of course, be worked into the top layer as needed, or a top dressing of manure can be applied, but the structure of the lower depths must have first consideration at planting time.

Climbing roses of vigorous growth habit should be planted about 5′ feet apart, and those of less vigorous growth somewhat rinser. However, the distance between the plants is dependent to some extent upon whether the hedge is high or low. 

The plants should be somewhat closer than I have indicated if it is too high, say 8′ or 11′ feet, and the growth should be trained upward rather than semi-horizontal, as would be the case in a 4- or 5-foot hedge.

The canes should be spread out fanlike and pruned quite severely at the planting time to ensure the production of new growth from the base of the plant. Subsequent pruning should consist of removing older wood each year. 

If the growth is permitted to become too dense. it won’t be easy to manage, and the plants will bloom less freely.

Rose Varieties To Choose From

There are few, if all, climbing roses that cannot be used successfully for a rose hedge, but some are so extremely vigorous that they are only suitable for a very tall hedge or one that has ample room in a winch to develop.

A few representatives of the extremely vigorous types are:

  • AMERICAN PILLAR, rose color with white center
  • DR. W. VAN FLEET, pink
  • EXCELSA, red 
  • POLARIS, white
  • CHEVY CHASE, red
  • MME. SANCY DE PARABERE, rose color and thornless
  • GLENN DALE, lemon
  • GOLDEN GROW, yellow
  • MARY WALLACE, pink

Where Space Permits

These vigorous roses are very desirable, lint where growth must be restricted. It is better to use some of the less robust varieties.

Among these latter are:

  • CITY OF YORK, white
  • NEW DAWN, the pink sport of DR. VAN FLEET
  • PAUL’S SCARLET CLIMBER and its everblooming sport, BLAZE, are both scarlet
  • DR. HUEY, maroon
  • DREAM GIRL, pink
  • MME. GREGOIRE STAECHELIN, a beautiful but somewhat tender pink variety
  • ZEPHIRINE Dsound, pink thornless
  • PRINSES VAN ORANJE, orange-scarlet

Bush Varieties

For a bush hedge, the ideal variety is reasonably hardy, neat, bushy, and continuous flowering. Several Polyantha varieties meet these requirements, but as discussed in a previous article [August 1947], I need not go into them now. 

If properly pruned, the rugosa roses and their hybrids are also well suited to this purpose. They are more vigorous and hardy than the Polyanthus but somewhat less floriferous.

Suggested varieties among the rugosas are: 

  • SCHNEEZWERG, white
  • VANGUARD, orange salmon
  • NOVA ZEMBLA, white
  • SIR Thomas Leroux, white
  • AGNES, amber-gold
  • HANSA, violet-red; and the rugosa specks in white and red

The rugosas are extremely hardy and will thrive under neglect and adverse conditions as regards climate and soil. The old canes should be removed occasionally and new growth shortened. 

Plants should be placed about 2′ feet apart to form a dense hedge. As the height of these roses varies considerably and is greatly influenced by environment and culture, the successful planting of a rugosa hedge requires some rather serious thought.

Rose Class Species

In the species rose class, we find many fine subjects, but these roses should be valued primarily for their habit of growth, seed formation, hardiness, and disease resistance, since. They bloom only once and are then finished for the season. 

During their one period of bloom, however, they present such a glorious sight which, together with their other admirable characteristics, fully justifies their use as hedge material.

The seed hips that follow the bloom add particularly to their year-round attractiveness and are also much relished by the birds.

  • ROSA HUGONIS, a very early yellow and glorious if planted in poor soil, and its companion specie
  • ROSA PRIMULA, which is also yellow and blooms at the same time but does best in good soil, are both very good hedge plants
  • ROSA SPINOSISSIMA, the type being white but there also being hybrids of yellow, red, and pink, and low growing
  • ROSA HORRIDA, white and very thorny, thus making an impregnable 3-foot hedge 
  • ROSA ALTAICA, white and about 6′ feet tall
  • ROSA PENDULINA, deep pink, 4′ feet 
  • ROSA MULTIFLORA, small white blossoms and vigorous, recommended by several state agricultural departments for use as a pasture hedge
  • ROSA CAROLINA, pink, 3′ to 6′ feet, suckers freely 
  • ROSA EGLANTERIA, the sweetbriar rose, pink, about 8′ feet
  • ROSA ROXBURGHII, white, 6′ feet, attractive and interesting; 
  • ROSA RUBRIFOLIA, 6′ feet, pink flowers, and red foliage, invaluable for contrast.

Among the hybrids, both old and new:

  • HATUSOX’S YELLOW, 6′ feet
  • PIKES PEAK, red, 6′ feet
  • ORATANJI, yellow-pink, 5′ feet
  • MAIDEN’S BLUSH, soft pink, 5′ feet

And the Centifolias, Mosses, Gallicas, and Hybrid Sweetbriars of various heights and colors. The field of possibilities is practically unlimited.

All bush roses grown for hedge purposes, just as in the case of climbers, should be cut back quite severely when planting to ensure a thick base. 

Some varieties, such as the sweetbriers, which are consistently leggy, are difficult to handle. Still, they are so attractive that a low-growing variety could be planted to advantage in the foreground.

44659 by R. E. Shepherd