How do you handle hips that ripen early.

I have 10 hips on La Belle Sultane that have already turned color - a good fall orange. There is still a small bit of green, but it is mostly gone.

The problem is that I have to leave on vacation starting July 1st and will not be back until mid-month. I am afraid something will see the change in color and make a snack out of this years crosses while I’m gone. I have no previous experience with hips from LBS, so I suppose there is also and outside chance the hips could fall off while I’m not looking too.

In any case, do you think I should take the hips early, or just let nature take its course. I do have someone coming to water who could keep watch on the outside chance the hips fall, but that will not help with the other problem.

Any suggestions?



Or you could bag them in a piece of net-like fabric (even old pantyhose or some such thing–such as from the plastic net bags a lot of oranges come in).

You didn’t say where you are, but the end of June seems pretty early for true fall coloring unless you’re in the Deep South of the US and made your crosses in February or you’re in the southern hemisphere and it is winter. Have you seen the hips on this variety before so that you know this is good fall orange? I’m not familiar with LBS.


I’ve got hips ripening early too. In fact the whole hip is starting to shrivel in a few cases but it’s obvious they contain seed as even exogenous seed is present. I’ve been trying to decide what to do with them as well. We do get very early flowering here and the seed is no doubt mature.

I am north of Austin, Texas. These were crossed the first week of April. Seems real early to me too.


FWIW La Belle will sometimes hold onto hips into the next year. I have a large dense patch of LBS and some had blooms on canes that still held last spring’s hips.

In my garden, R. primula and the early yellow Asians species have hips where the hip colors are already red and orange. From several years ago I know that primula’s hips will turn black and then all will drop quickly. And the hips are apparently very tasty to our rodent population because once the hips drop, they disappear and we do have a lot of rodents in the fields.


Peter, I had hips from eglatine rootstock X Applejack that ripened in June of last year.

Last night, I planted 4 germinations and a sprout.

That was just two months (pollination in early May) from pollination to harvest–

Some species ripen in 6-8 weeks. Probably the eglantine rootstock is one of the quick ripeners. Is La Belle Sultane a species of that sort, Enrique?

The pollinations were made in early April, so the seeds may be viable (after 12 weeks, most roses will have a fair number of viable seeds), but unless there is a need to take the seeds now, I’d not advise doing so unless LBS habitually drops its hips early–and Ann suggests that it does not.

Thanks all for the input. LBS is a gallica - late 1700s/early 1800’s. I wanted to use it because the color and fragrance are intense, the only thing that bothers it is aphids, and it is one of the few gallicas I’ve found that put up with our heat and mild winters.

I have hips from other crosses maturing, but I am really looking forward to working with these.

I will probably cover the hips (or the bush) with some kind of netting - proceeding on the assumption that they will not drop. I will have to prop up the canes as they are quite lax and tend to bend over with the weight of the hips. No sense making it easy for the rodents to get to.


If they look ripe, they probably are. Roses are quite variable in maturing their fruit (just like apples). I usually make sure that the hips are very dry and then store them in ziplock bags in the frig.

Jim Sproul

You store the hips dry Jim? I have processed the seed and stored it in damp paper towels in the past OR I have stored the mature hips in baggies till I could process them in the past. I store all in the frig.

Hi Robert,

I make sure that the surface of the hip is dry - not dried hips! Then I’ll hold them in the frig until the rest are picked. Thanks for allowing me to clarify.

Jim Sproul

OK, this makes sense. I had some seed mature unusually early this season. (Admiral Rodney x Lila Banks) I went ahead and processed the hips as they were showing signs of beginning to dry on the plant. Most of the exogeneous seed formed floated but several seed inside the hip sunk. I sowed it straight away and we’ll see what happens. I’ll have many hips to process this season so no big deal if I don’t get anything.

I picked up a textbook this weekend (greatly reduced in price) called Plant Propagation, Principals and Practices 1979 edition by Hartman and Kester (both are at UC Davis).

Page 611:

“As soon as the rose fruits (hips) are ripe, before the flesh starts to soften, they should be collected and the seeds extracted.”

It then goes into stratification.

Hi Ann, I have that book right here. It was my college textbook. =)

The problem is determining ripeness. Add the fact that hips sometimes drop to the ground before they turn color and one has a real problem as identification is easily lost.

I think it’s better to harvest hips determined mature and devise a method of storage that fits best for one’s climate.

I’ve noted the sepals are drying on some of my crosses. Has anyone used this aspect as a determinate of maturity?

That’s a challenging question. I typically want to try to delay germination because I don’t have a greenhouse and drying can reduce viability as I’ve found in the experiment I’ve done and had published in HortScience last fall. For seed of more precious crosses I don’t want to risk loosing viability. For instance, last summer I had some R.sericea x R.hugonis (or R. primula) open pollinated hips last summer. What I did was just give them a couple months of warm stratification (seeds in moist peat at room temperature in a baggie) before putting them in the fridge. Actually it seems for some roses the warm stratification actually helps germination anyway. Sometimes there is early germination during the warm strat. I just took out those seedlings and potted them and at that point put the baggies in the fridge.

Sincerely, David

Robert, regarding drying sepals, I have noted that for some roses it is a sign of maturity (at least in our climate). I especially noted that drying and falling sepals in ‘Sexy Rexy’ was a sign of seed maturity (before the hips turned orange). As I recall they did have just a hint of color change on hips.

Just as some apples are green even when ripe, so are some rose hips. The question of ripeness is good to remind us that each rose cultivar is different and has its own ripening period and ripening characteristics - one more reason to carefully observe and know your roses!

Jim Sproul

I believe you’re right Jim. I am also coming to believe that the pollen parent can affect maturation of hips. I’ve got quite a few hips showing signs of maturity w/out turning color now and some are definitely in danger of being lost. I removed seed from a couple of these crosses yesterday as the hips was going dry and they appeared mature.

The dry sepals seem to be a sign of maturity regardless of hip color but I’m going to wait for those not in danger of dessication and see if I can delay harvest.

Hi Joe, Thought I would join in as I also live close to Austin Texas. Yes, I also have some ready to harvest. I take them when the sepals dry and a little color showing. Seeds are harvested, damp peat, and in the fridge till sprouting starts. Since our location supports hip production over a long period of time, catching them at the right time for harvest can be tricky. It has been my experience here in central Texas to cross in late March or April, take the hips when the sepals dry and a little color shows. For me, seeds germinate better when taken at this stage. Seeds are white and hard. I have tried fully ripe hips, but germination seems slowed. Has anyone else found this to be the case?