Ask the Gardener

Ask the Gardener: How to grow rose hips for jelly

CorrespondentDecember 13, 2013 

After flowering, many rugosas will show off visually for a second time with their abundance of small fruits that range in color from orange to red.

COURTESY OF L.A. JACKSON

I read with interest last month’s column on pyracantha jelly, and I remember one of my aunts used to make rose hip jelly. I have found several recipes on the Web for making the jelly, but quite frankly, I really didn’t have too many hips on my roses. Is there something I can do to make them grow more hips next year?

Bessie Gregory

Durham

Some roses produce more hips than others, and I strongly suspect your roses just aren’t that hip. If you want to be up to your hips in hips, make room in your landscape for a few rugosa roses. Hands down, they will out-hip any other rose on the planet. After flowering, many rugosas will show off visually for a second time with their abundance of small fruits that range in color from orange to red. Not only are these hips edible, but they are also a good source for Vitamin C. Right off the bush, they are tart, but as you mentioned, there are plenty of Web recipes for taming their taste in jellies. I also suggest you search online for information on making tea from rose hips.

There are plenty of improved rugosa selections that will bury you in rose berries, such as “Hansa” (with reddish double blooms), “Alba” (single white) and “Frau Dagmar Hastrup” (single pink).

Rugosas are tough shrubs that can tolerate drought and are disease-resistant, but for all their attributes, most rugosas are bristling with thorns, so think carefully where you want this rose to settle into your landscape.

No figs on fig tree

I bought a “Brown Turkey” fig plant last spring with figs on it. It doubled in size, but no figs this summer. Wondering what went wrong.

Pam Epperson

Raleigh

Normally, if someone tells me they don’t have figs on a tree they planted within two years, I would advise patience, because it usually takes three to four years in the ground before an immature plant produces figs. In your case though, since it had figs before, it should have them again, so let’s look at other ideas.

Is your fig receiving at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day? This sun-worshiper will not fruit well in shady or even semi-shady spots. Also, you mentioned your bush doubled in size. How much nitrogen have you been tossing around it? Excessive nitrogen leads to fast growth of the foliage at the expense of fig production.

If you swear on a stack of garden catalogs that you didn’t use high-nitrogen on your fig bush, is it close to your lawn? Lawns are typically dusted with high-nitrogen fertilizers, and a good dose of it could have landed around your fig, triggering the fig-free growth.

No catchy name

Does the bulb camassia have another, more common name?

William McCoy

Durham

I have seen it referred to as “wild hyacinth,” but this has only been on rare occasions. While not the catchiest or more descriptive of names for such a beautiful bulb, to most gardeners a camassia is a camassia is a camassia.

L.A. Jackson is the former editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine. Send your garden questions, including the city where you garden, to: askthegardener@newsobserver.com.

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