Why grow roses in addition to food? Can you use them effectively in a food garden? They’re a great addition for several reasons you may not have thought of.
The advice in many books is that if you want a low maintenance garden, you should not grow roses. Roses may require a bit more maintenance and can be a bit more of a nuisance than other perennial flowers. There is pruning to be done twice a year, diseases that roses can get such as black spot and their thorns grab your clothes and scratch your skin as you walk by them.
Traditionally roses have been grown for their scent, their colour and as cut flowers. In fact in my Tranquil Garden eBook, roses are portrayed as just that.
The addition of roses to your garden certainly does give you those benefits. But there are actually some other benefits that may not at first be that obvious. When you discover these benefits, they make roses all the more desirable to have.
CAUTION: Note that some of the tips below require your roses to not have been sprayed with any chemicals. Do not consume parts of a rose plant that has been sprayed, it just isn’t safe!
Rose petals are the iconic symbols of extravagance. Who hasn’t dreamed of (or had) a bath with rose petals floating daintily on the surface of the water or a bed decorated with handfuls of rose petals and chocolates on the pillow?
However rose petals have some practical uses as well.
Here is what you can use rose petals for:
- Rose petal tea – dry the rose petals and add them to boiling water either by themselves or mixed with your favourite tea
- Decorations – fresh rose petals as mentioned can be used in a bath or bedroom but also as decorations on dining tables
- Medicinal tincture – the petals are sedative/calming, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, mild laxative, a good supportive tonic for the heart, and great for lowering cholesterol; make a,
- Essential oil – easy to make, use in a diffuser for aromatherapy, massage oil or in your bath
- Rose water – basically just rose petals and water that you can use for skincare
If you leave flowers on your rose bushes until they mature into rosehips, you will have a potent source of Vitamin C, Vitamins A and E, B-Complex vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Wait until the first frost before you harvest rosehips. This is mainly to stop the plant from trying to send up new growth in response to the removal of the hips. But supposedly the taste is better too of the rosehips. Some people will pick them before frost and then freeze them in their freezer to simulate frost.
Don’t use any aluminium pans or utensils when cooking as those will discolour the hips and destroy the vitamin C inside. Use stainless steel instead.
You probably are thinking “Marc, are you kidding me! Those thorny branches are useless for anything! All they do is snag my clothes and scratch the heck out of my arms and legs as I walk by.” Not to mention stepping on a branch or thorn in your bare feet!
Actually the thorns are the reason why these branches are so useful.
Here is what you can use rose branches for:
- Prevent cats and other animals from digging in your soil by laying them down as a carpet of thorns (just don’t walk around in your bare feet close to where you put them!)
- Weave them into a screen to keep away deer from prized flowers and other plants
- Plant climbing roses as a living fence again to keep out unwanted animals
- Place them on outdoor seating if you have pesky friends, family member or neighbours that come over unannounced and plop themselves down to chat 😉
All flowers attract various pollinators such as birds, butterflies and bees. Because of their scent and attractive colours roses attract their fair share of pollinators as well even though roses don’t have any nectar to give.
Hummingbirds love the blooms. Red is usually their favourite colour and there are some stunning red varieties of roses. Pinks and purples are also a favourite and there is no lack of these colours as well. They may get some water that has collected inside after a rain or irrigation. They might also be after some small insects on the roses; if you have hummingbirds, you might not have aphids on your roses once the hummingbirds have gotten to them!
Bees are attracted to roses as well and you will often seem more than one happily visiting each bloom. Butterflies as well will visit the roses.
Attracting these pollinators to the garden and having them live there will benefit all of your plants. Not only are they going to visit your roses, but also your other plants including fruit trees, vegetables and other flowers.
So as you can see there are many benefits to roses despite their bad reputation of being high maintenance. With just some regular care that shouldn’t be too arduous, you can have these beautiful blooms in your garden and reap their benefits.
Do you have any other uses for rose plant parts? Do you have any tips on making maintenance easier? Please share as a comment below.
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC