The rose is not just a pretty flower, it is an edible plant. You can eat the petals, leaves and hips (fruit) in many ways, from rosehip tea and grilled rose petals, to roasted rose stems.
Best Rose Varieties For Eating
Roses come from a large family of plants that also includes almonds and cherries. There are over 4,000 named species of roses, making them one of the most popular plants developed by breeders.
The older heirloom varieties of roses are best used for Eating and for hips. Many of the newer hybrids have been developed to produce an abundance of flowers. Look for roses that have been grown on their own roots instead of being grafted. Also, take note that roses that are fragrant typically taste better.
Rosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’
This shrub rose is attractive, fragrant, and good for both cut and dried flower arrangements. It grows five feet tall and three feet wide. The flowers blossom throughout the summer and into fall. It has large, orange-red hips. It grows well in zones 4 to 9.
There are several varieties of wild roses developed by David Austin, the famous horticulturalist. They come in a variety of colors.
Geraniums have bright red flowers that are followed by large, red hips. Alba produces single, white flowers that smell like old-fashioned roses. It produces exceptionally large, flavorful, orange-red hips.
The Generous Gardener
This English Climbing Rose was bred by David Austin. It produces large, cup-shaped, pale pink flowers with a strong, delicious fragrance.
This diseased resistant plant grows up to 15 feet tall and is full of flowers. Its orange hips are large, and it does well in zones 4-11.
Lady of Shallot
This rose was bred by David Austin and is an English Shrub type. It is hardy, vigorous, and disease-resistant. The flowers are apricot-yellow and cup-shaped.
This fragrance has undertones of spiced apples and cloves, making it perfect for brewing a tea. It grows well even in poor quality soil, making it a good choice for beginner gardeners. Lady of Shallot does well in a wide range of climates, hardiness zones 4-11.
If you have wild roses on your land or can find some on public property, you are lucky. The buds of wild roses are particularly tasty. They also produce plenty of hips.
If you want to harvest buds from wild roses, make sure to leave some so the plant can still make flowers and hips. Only pick from plants that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
What Parts Of A Rose Are Edible And How Do You Use Them?
- Edible Rose Leaves
You can use rose leaves in tea mixes or as you would spinach. The flavor is similar to black tea, but it is naturally caffeine-free, like herbal teas. Harvest leaves when they are young by clipping them from the stem. You can use them fresh or let them dry for future use.
Leaves from roses contain polyphenols, which are a source of antioxidants. Reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes has been linked to polyphenols.
Rose leaf harvesting tips
The best flavor in rose leaves comes from young ones. You can pick them off by using your fingernails or clipping them with gloved hands if the rose variety has thorns.
How to eat rose leaves
Although rose leaves don’t make for a good salad green, their flavor is similar to black tea and they can be mixed in with other tea leaves. It’s important to note that rose leaves don’t contain caffeine, unlike many other plants.
You can use either fresh or dried rose leaves in an herbal tea blend.
- Edible Rose Buds
Rose buds are edible and have a lot of rose flavor.
Rosebud harvesting tips
We like to cut unopened rose buds off at the base using clippers when the bud is full and about to begin opening.
There are also wild roses growing nearby that have a better flavor than our domesticated varieties. These wild roses only produce flowers once in early spring, unlike some of our domesticated varieties that continue to produce flowers throughout the warm months.
Leave enough buds on your rose plants so they can produce petals and hips.
How to eat rose buds
We dried our rose buds by lying them in a single layer on a plate or tray and placing them under a ceiling fan indoors. Once they were completely dry (after 2-4 weeks), we stored them in jars or bags.
Rosebuds can be used to make tea or to flavor other dishes. We are planning to try pickling rosebuds this spring and will let you know how it turns out.
- Edible Rose Petals
Rose petal harvesting tips
You can get rose petals without having to harvest the whole flower. You can just take them from the flower head before they start to brown and fall off the plant.
This means that you can collect rose petals and still get rose hips!
How to eat rose petals
There are many ways you can use rose petals in your cooking. A quick search online will reveal numerous recipes from different cultures that use rose petals as an ingredient. This is a great way to try something new and experiment with this versatile ingredient.
A few of our favorite ways to eat fresh rose petals:
- add fresh rose petals to a salad,
- chop rose petals and put them in honey to be used as a spread (popular in Greece),
- chopped into a summer sorbet,
- candied rose petals,
- add rose petals as a colorful dessert garnish.
Rose buds pack more flavor than dried rose petals.
- Edible Rose Hips
Yes, rose hips are edible.
Rose hips contain more Vitamin C than oranges and have a tangy apricot flavor. Rose hips are the favorite edible part of the rose plant.
The edible part of a rose hip is actually a swollen part of the stem, not a developed ovary. This makes them a “false fruit,” similar to apples.
Different types of roses produce hips of different sizes, colors, and flavors. The hips grown in this particular rose garden ripen to shades of red and orange.
Edible Rose Plants: Choosing The Best Varieties
Different roses have different flavors, and some are easier to grow than others.
Rose hips have not been bred for food production in the last 50 years, older varieties are more likely to be edible.
The most important factor to consider when choosing an edible rose flower is its fragrance. The more intense the fragrance, the better the taste.
Own-root versus grafted roses
In addition to edibility and breed, another critical factor in selecting good edible rose plants is own-root vs. grafted roses:
Own-root roses are said to be more cold hardy than grafted roses. Own-root roses are not grafted on to the rootstock of another variety; they have their own roots. The entire plant is the same variety. Own-root roses are more cold hardy than grafted roses.
The top of one rose variety is grafted to the rootstock of another rose variety in order to create a new plant. The new plant is resistant to diseases that are found in the soil.
How To Grow Edible Roses Organically
The text is warning that it is difficult to find rose plants that have not been treated with pesticides. It advises that if you want to eat anything from your rose plants, you should wait at least a year after purchasing the plants to allow any pesticide exposure to dissipate.
While you can’t control how your rose plants were grown before you got them, you can grow them organically after you get them. Here’s how:
- Select own-root rose varieties.
Choose the best edible, own-root varieties. It is best to get roses from a breeder such as David Austin who breeds extremely vigorous, hardy rose varieties.
- Use compost and mulch.
Before planting, mix in some good compost or worm castings to the soil. After planting, put a 2-3 inch layer of wood chips or pine straw around the roses.
Do not place mulch or soil directly against the trunk of the tree as this will encourage rot. Instead, gradually taper the level down as you near the trunk.
- Pay attention to first year and ongoing irrigation needs.
For the first year, water your rose plants every week, giving each one at least 1 inch of water. If you get rain, this will supplement the water your plants need. After the first year, as long as you get 1-2 inches of rain every week, your plants shouldn’t need any additional water.
- Pre-emergent, yearly care.
Cut off any dead branches on your rose plants before they wake up from their dormant state in late winter or early spring. Use sharp, sterilized pruners to make clean cuts.
Add a 2 inch layer of compost or worm castings to the area around the rose plants. Add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch on top of the compost. Do not pile mulch or soil against the trunk of the plant, but make it thinner near the trunk. The mulch from the previous year should be broken down by now, so leave it as is before adding the new compost and mulch.
This is an easy, effective way to build great soil for your roses that starts with plant health. By using compost + mulch, you can both feed the rose plant (biological soil fertility), suppress any pathogens/diseases in the soil, and prevent soil splash that promotes foliar diseases.
Planting Edible Roses
Roses have a reputation as being the cranky pants of the plant world, which is unjustified. While they can be challenging, they should definitely be crossed off your list. Growing edible roses is a worthwhile challenge.
Choose a planting location that is a sunny slope so that hot air will move up or down the slope and give your roses full sun and lots of air circulation.
Roses grow best in soil that is slightly acidic and well drained. If your soil does not meet these criteria, you can improve it by adding compost and cottonseed meal.
The best way to ensure that your roses will thrive is to buy varieties that are hardy and disease resistant. Reputable rose suppliers, such as David Austins and Jackson and Perkins, offer guarantees on their plants, so you can be confident that you’re getting a quality product.
Even though shrub and climbing roses are some of the oldest varieties, they are still easy to grow.
When to Plant
Roses can be planted at any time during the growing season, as long as they are in the soil 8 weeks before the first frost.
It is important to have good air circulation in order to have healthy and strong plants. Roses are particularly susceptible to mold and fungal diseases, so it is important to make sure there is enough space between them and good air flow to prevent these problems. Be sure to follow the recommended growing space guidelines for your edible roses.
Problems and Solutions for Growing Edible Roses
One positive aspect of growing edible roses is that they do not need to be attractive–tasty is sufficient. Therefore, some issues can be avoided or handled with less care.
Aphids attack a huge variety of plants.
Spider mites are small pests that live on the underside of leaves and suck the nutrients out of the plant. You’ll usually be able to tell if your plant has them by the presence of a fine webbing.
Roses need to be blasted with water and then have neem oil applied to them to keep them away.
Rose Bud Borers
Removing rosebuds that have been penetrated by rosebuds will help roses continue to bloom. Inspect plants regularly and remove any affected buds as soon as possible.
Beetles that are known to eat roses are called rose chafers. These bugs can strip a plant of its leaves, flowers, and fruit. If you see them, it is best to pick them off by hand. Another option is to cover plants with a row cover during the month of June when these beetles typically feed.
These beetles have colors on their shells that shift when you look at them from different angles. They can eat a lot of leaves and flowers on a rose plant. To get rid of them, pick them off the plant and put them in a container of water with soap.
This fungus can impede blossoms from opening, harm leaves and canes, and you may observe a fuzzy coating on plants. Cut out and annihilate any parts of the plant that are tainted and keep roses trimmed so they have adequate air circulation.
If you don’t take action, the mildew will thicken and spread, eventually leading to plant death. A plant disease called powdery mildew can make leaves brown and plants ugly. You might see what looks like a light layer of baby powder on your plants first. If you don’t do anything about it, the mildew will get worse and spread. Finally, the plant will die.
It is beneficial to prune roses in order to maintain good air circulation. Additionally, watering roses at the base of the plant in the morning is also recommended. Another way to help Roses stay healthy is by spraying them with a mixture of baking soda and vegetable oil that has been diluted in a quart of warm water.
A black spot is a fungus that causes dark spots on the leaves of plants. It spreads via moisture and is more common in humid areas.
remove debris and fallen leaves from around the base of your roses and trim back any overgrowth to promote good air circulation.
Canker is a fungal infection that produces dead or discolored canes. It enters plants through wounds in the canes and leaves and is spread by insects, dirty tools, and water.
Cut off any infected parts of the plant, and make sure your garden is clean and free of weeds. You can also use an organic fungicide made of copper if the problem gets worse.