Hip Maturity

I’m in my first year of breeding roses and have a question about hip maturity. From my reading of the RHA material I understand that the hips should grow for 16 weeks. Should they stay on the rose as long as possible or is it okay to harvest now?

It’s generally safe to harvest at 120 days, IF they stay on that long.

Some drop. It’s easy to lose them and or the label once they do.

Some might advise leave them longer if you’re so inclined.

If the sepals are dry I would go ahead and harvest. Not all hips turn orange.

Hi Jeff.

I did a seed viabitiy/germination comparison on two OP Queen Elizabeth hips this winter just past.

One hip was orange and shrivelling, and the other was just starting to show orange color.

After actually removing the seeds from their hard outer coat, most of the seeds in the shrivelling hip were dried out and dead, whereas nearly all of the seeds in the fresher hip were plump.

In the end the shrivelling hip produced two plants (one died), and the fresher hip produced ten plants (all ok).


I have some hips that are turning yellow and orange, but the ink I used on some of the tags is barely visible, very cheap ink… Could I harvest these hips now because of the color change in the hips? I was going to put the hips in the frig for a couple of weeks anyway before I take the seeds out. What do you think?

Also I opened up a few of my hips that I could read the dates on and they were at least 115-120 days old, they were all black inside, seeds and all, but by looking at the outside of the hips you would have never known it, the outer coat of the hips were clean and very fresh, I cannot understand why they would turn black inside, would someone here know why this would happen?

Sometimes moisture gets into the hip from from the top and rots out the seed.

Whether you should harvest depends on your climate. If you feel it’s been close to 120 days you could harvest.

Use a regular #2 pencil. It won’t fade and lasts forever.

Seeds that are blackened are not necessarily rotten. If the seeds seem heavy and hard, go ahead and plant them and you’ll probably get OK germination.

Robert is right about pencil–it lasts pretty well on string tags of reasonably heavy stock. I’d suggest you get the colored ones, since the white ones are not coated and don’t last as well, or hold marks as well.

Generally seeds are viable any time after about 14 weeks, and you’ll probably get some germinations from seeds in hips that drop after only 8-9 weeks. With species crosses the hips may ripen sooner, in 6-8 weeks.


I recommend black fine tip paint marking pens.


Have a look through the images I’ve posted at HMf to see a variety of seeds in various stages of maturity. This will give you an idea of what to expect.

Dark seeds when extracted from hips are not usually black, though they can be very dark brown. Seeds that have been stratified eventually turn truly black as the embryos die, especially when the seeds are kept wet, but even still I sometimes find viable embryos in blackened seeds when I’m doing embryo culture.

Link: helpmefind.com/plant/l.php?l=99.115044&tab=9

I recommend black fine tip paint marking pens.

Ink from black Sharpie markers holds up well on home-made tags cut from yellow vinyl report covers.

Thanks for the input. I have some hips that are starting to get some orange in them and others are still green (all on the same rose.) I think I’ll let them go for a little longer. I check them just about every day and I’m sure the neighbors think I’m nuts checking rose bushes with very few blooms. I did pull a few hips from Scarlet Knight because the stems were starting to turn yellow. They are all OP, but I still can’t wait to see if the seeds germinate.

I marked the crosses with six inch plastic pot stakes. I cut them in half and then used a hole punch for a hole to go over the stem. Every one stayed on through the summer. I’ve been marking these plant stakes for years with a #2 pencil. Some plants I’ve labled have held up for two years.


You have a bunch of interesting pictures on HMF.

I’ve dug up plastic labels marked with #2 pencil, after over 10 years still legible.

I still swear by black china markers. You can get them at any office store. I even use them on my debit cards because perm. marker vanishes off, whereas my signature lasts forever in my wallet when a china marker is used.

I did finally go out and buy the Sharpie black permanent markers but I wish I would have known about the #2 pencils, I have lots of them. Here are a few hips that I believe might be ripe enough but not too sure, what do you think, should I pick them?

Thanks for your advice everyone.

Here is the next picture.

I’d probably let them go a little longer, but they could certainly be harvested now.

Oh yeah, looks good to me. Nice heps too. Those seeds are going to be huge.

A #2 pencil is about the only thing I can regularly get my hands on and keep for any amount of time around here.

I used to know where everything was when I was single, but that was over 26 years ago.

Between Wife, kids, nothing is sacred, and the dogs will eat my pencils if I’m not careful. Fortunately they are common and CHEAP.

My hips must have an Irish background, they stay green. I have tried crosses with Fairhope, Reiko, June Laver, Seq Gold, etc all miniatures and they never turn color for me. Last year I put a few bushes with hips on them in a friends green house thinking they would turn color and they never did. Atthat time I attributed that to lack of care in his greenhouse. However, this year the same thing. Hips start to fall off around 90 days and even the few that made it to 100 plus aren’t turning color. I’m going to attempt to attach some pictures of a hip that was 110 days old before it fell off. What do you all suggest?

I loaded the pictures onto the Rosarians Corner folder and attempted to retrieve them from there. Why didn’t it work on the above message?

Slow learner I guess…

Looks ripe to me, Jeanie.

Thanks so much Paul.

Hi Bill, I don’t think you can post pictures here from another forum site. But you could from a site such as Photobucket or Flickr. You have to open an account with them, though it doesn’t cost anything. Just go to photobucket.com, register then upload your pictures.