Is colour of hips important.

I want to know what colour of hips actually indicates.

Is it a true indicator of maturity or simply a reaction to light and time?

I am asking this because I do 2 lots of pollinations/year broken by a 2mth period of regular 40deg.C temps. and so have hips of the same cross on the same bush 2-3mths different in time.

I have noticed that the early hips seem to colour well at about 120 days but the later ones are at 140 days and are only just starting to colour now.(Last weeks of winter).

I took the mid time hips and put them indoors in sand under lights and they coloured easily but did seem to dry a bit. I am wondering if it is worth doing this as hips on bushes until spring is a pain.

The questions are

Is the colour important or is the time enough ?

If I need colour, how much winter “bush” time could be substituted by lights indoors?

Any suggestions on hip preparation and storage techniques would help.


You know, I used to try and wait for hips to turn in hopes that indicated maturity. What it DID do was alert the rats and squirrels there was ripe FRUIT ready for their harvest. Now, I wait until my nerve gives out and I harvest, green or not. It hasn’t seemed to make any difference, other than I got the hips instead of the rodents. Laurie Chaffin from the old Pixie Treasures Nursery bred all the way to the end of December, picked the hips just before planting in late winter and never complained of any failures she could blame on lack of hip maturity.

The remaining hips from this years crosses are all shelled and waiting planting in the refrigerator. Cold stratification doesn’t seem required using what I breed wtih.

Time… colour is, I believe, irrelevant because some varieties will never turn. I’m like Kim… the longer I leave them on the bush the more I lose to the critters… also colour can be misleading. In some Teas I have found that if I pollinate late (like the beginning of autumn), then they can sit on the bush a long time and still be green and then it starts to get cold and they start to change colour in a response to the cold. On inspection of the seeds they can still be soft and creamy/white. Russ, you are in Australia… you don’t need any time under lights at all unless you are trying experiments with light such as red light. There is also evidence to suggest that less time in the hip will reduce the need for long stratification. Personally, I just do what feels right at the time… I’ve had germination from young hips and old hips all winter here in Tasmania so in Sydney you could go all year without stopping.

Any suggestions on hip preparation and storage techniques would help<<<<<<<

Hi Russ!

If you want to do one and only one round of shelling and sowing per growing season, then you could store the “early season” hips in the fridge (e.g just throw them in the crisper compartment), as soon as you think they have had enough time for the seed to mature. Then keep adding the later season hips to these, until your total annual harvest is complete.

Then you can start to shell, stratify (if desired) and sow all of them, at the end of the season.

Hmm, I’m interested in this but for an entirely different reason. Last week I accidentally broke off a branch on a rose that had quite a few hips (that are important to me). They were just starting to turn yellow. I’ve put the whole branch in water, under glass- like I’m going to root it. I’m wondering if they will mature under these conditions or if the heat or something else may harm them. From what I gather, it may be worth just planting them. Perhaps the cutting will reject and drop them, but it hasn’t given any indication of that yet.


This is part of why I am asking about colour. Its easy to colour the hip but what does it acheive?

With your branch I would guess that it depends on how long you can maintain the moisture to sustain the the hips in place but from my experience it would be easy to extend the colouring process by 4 weeks or more either on the branch or by some other method.

I have been taking any hips that go brown in the stem and standing them in damp sand under lights(its mid winter here) and they colour up quite well. I trim the stem of any brown and stand them up in the sand (somewhere in this forum I have read of hips being matured in sand and also in plastic bags in a window) I dont know if it is the light or the warmer conditions that is required.

So long as their is no black on the hip they seem to mature but lose moisture in the process. If there is any rot on the hip it quickly covers the whole hip but does not appear to affect the seeds which are very easy to remove.

Putting them in water should stop moisture loss but water and lights may be a problem and the sand is what I had in a the seedling tray under lights.

Hope this is some help


With most varieties the seeds are fully mature at 100 days from pollination, and will germinate better if harvested then than if allowed to stay much longer on the bush.

Some species seeds are mature much sooner and will drop in 6-8 weeks.