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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha
syn. R. omeiensis f. pteracantha
Pronounced: RO-sa sur-ISS-ee-uh
Sunset zones: Not listed.
USDA zones: 6-9.
Heat zones: 9-6.
Height: 8 feet (2.5 m).
Width: 7 feet (2.2 m).
April to May.
Single, white, fragrant flowers with 4 petals, followed by red hips in autumn.
The small, elliptic and oblong leaflets are in groups of 11-17 along a stem, giving it a fern-like appearance.
Fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil.
Once a month with a complete organic fertilizer during growing season.
Sow seed in containers in autumn and place in coldframe over winter.
Softwood cuttings during first flush of flowers.
Hardwood cuttings in autumn.
Layer stems for one year.
Divide suckers when dormant.
Lightly prune immediately after flowering. Some gardeners advise pruning heavily in late winter for more red prickles on new growth. However, pruning hard means you lose the abundant white flowers in spring and its beautiful natural v-shape.
Rainy Side Notes
When I first glimpsed the flat, bright red, translucent prickles on this rose, it was backlit by the sun. An audible hiss escaped my lips as I sucked in my breath at the sight of those beautiful, yet wicked-looking, prickles. I braked immediately to a full stop to inspect the shrub rose with its splendid scarlet-red menace. I wanted one for my garden, but it took me a few years to find one. One afternoon I was at a local nursery where I spotted it on a table, and snatched it up quickly. I was so excited that I found one; I almost kissed my new treasure. However, the rose had too many prickles to maneuver a loving act safely.
I carefully selected a place in the garden for this rose to grow. I wanted to highlight its attributes of long arching stems, full of one-inch wide, bright red prickles looking as if on fire, backlit by the late afternoon sun. To site it without backlighting does a disservice to the shrub and its main attribute. Later in the season, the prickles turn a dark color and fade into the fern-like foliage. The flowers are unusual, too. Instead of having the usual five petals, it only has four.
Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha is a subspecies of R. sericea with more ornamental prickles than the latter species. Observing the hairy stems, you understand the name sericea--silky-hairy. The rose hips are edible, but caution is advised. A layer of hairs surrounding the seeds can cause irritation when eaten. Remove the hairs before consuming the fruit.
Since the plant is difficult to grow from cuttings, many of this species are sold grafted on other rootstock. If you have room in your garden and would like to keep the rose's large, natural v-shape, keep pruning to a minimum. However, with little pruning, your shrub won't have as many red prickles.
Photographed in author's garden.