Tin foil bonnets

Hi all. I’ve been lurking here for awhile but this is my first post. I’ve read where the practice of forming bonnets of tin foil to place on ripening hips has been advocated by several people. Is there a potential downside to this practice? Anything I need to be careful of if I try it? Last year I had several full hips just kind of vanish on the roses in my yard. Now that I’m finally producing some seedlings I’d really like to avoid that this year. I’m in zone 7 Western Oregon if that makes a difference.



Hi Jon:

In your horticultural zone, it might not get too hot, but using tin foil can heat up especially if your weather is hot or the rose bush is in direct sunlight for several hours.

We’ve always found ‘bonnets’ made from white nylon net to be the best protection. It allows the hip to breathe without additional build-up of moisture.


If you find out what made the hips disappear (usually “it” has 4 legs and is either a squirrel or a deer) and can foil its efforts, you’ll be way ahead.

I’ve heard that deer don’t like the “feel” of foil if they accidentally chew on it–and that deer do avoid the foil. This all may be (sub)urban myth, but–FWIW–I’ve not lost any hips I covered with foil, either to deer or to on-the-stick baking. I have been very careful to make the caps so that water can’t get under them: fungus can do serious and rather quick damage. Since you have a history of disappearing hips, you might want to try the foil caps just as protection. I don’t think I’d expect foil to hasten the ripening.

I like to use foil if rain threatens after an evening of pollinating. Like Peter said, if water gets under there fungus can take care of your hips. Here in MN we had a lot of heavy rain showers and warm temps for a couple weeks during pollinating. In just a couple days after pollinating and using foil during this time I was losing hips to botrytis. They would start rotting the pistils and work into the hip. I got the foil off of everything quickly and used it for a day only if rain seemed unavoidable. I was pollinating mostly seedlings. The crosses on Carefree Beauty and its descendants didn’t rot as bad under the foil as George Vancouver and its descendants.


There was an article in an old American Rose Annual article that aluminum foil speeded up ripening.

To protect the newly pollinated flowers from rain, I use 2 by 2 inch zip lock bags.

Link: home.neo.rr.com/kuska/hipsleftandright.htm

The foil has baked on me on every hip I had this year, and plastic ruined the pollen with the condensation inside. I use napkin tissues only.

I use newspapaer to cover my freshly pollinated roses. Rain or sun doesn’t seem to bother them.

Has anyone tried using nylon to protect ripening hips?


paul e

I tried foil once, and every hip rotted. Now, I do nothing at all to cover them. Deer will certainly eat them if they get the opportunity, but I have fencing around all my work plots, or plants are kept in the greenhouses.


Enrique, did you notice that in my post above: “Note that I cut off the two upper corners of the bag to allow condensation to escape. In 1998 I cut the corners off about a week after pollinating, but in 1999 I cut the corners off when I prepared the bag.”

Have you tried the 1999 method above?

I have used bridal toule to protect hips from deer and it has worked. It’s kind of like nylons in that it breaths well. I get the inexpensive stuff for a $1.00 per yard and cut large squares and staple it around branches with hips. I usually don’t have a lot of deer trouble until later in summer and fall when the deer are eating ferociously getting ready for winter, so I usually don’t put the toule on until later in the season. Nylons seem like a great idea and are ready to just stretch over a branch. Too bad I don’t know anyone that can give me a lot of used ones.

Thanks for all the responses folks. No problems with deer or squirrels here, though we are just one grandkid leaving a gate open away from having a hundred sheep or so come pouring into the yard.(they prefer leaves to hips though and would find the pickings in the front yard mighty slim right now) I have wondered about scrub jays? Seems like just the kind of thing those little buggers might do. Meg, is the white nylon mesh you’re referring to from stockings or some other kind of material? Dont think anykind of paper cover would last for long in the Great Pacific North Wet.


Good lord, David! :wink:

I cannot imagine cutting 4000 squares of toule to wrap over pollinated blooms! (thats how many pollinations I did this season)


Yes Henry, I did make rather large ventilation holes when I used the plastic method. Still rotted on me. I like using napkins, but the only problem I have is that earwigs always get into them no matter what I try. I hope they do not carry any pollen from foreign roses. Usually I do many wide types of crosses so that I can definetly tell that they are hybrids like ‘Secret’ hybrid tea X Kazanlik damask rose, so that incase if I get a rose that looks like another hybrid tea with no damask characteristics-- it must had been pollinated by earwig contamination. With minis, I do not do anything to cover them as I carry the pots and do everything inside the house. I leave them inside for 4 days before returning them outside. In that way the hips will have a chance to be fertilized. I did this with my ‘Cafe Ole’ X ‘Basye’s Legacy’ cross.


Hi Enrique:

Don’t you live in CA? I live in the San Joaquin Valley where it gets quite hot. I do not cover any of the blooms (inside the greenhouse of outside). I agree with Paul B. that when you are doing lots of crosses, that covering the blooms (especially to protect them from foreign pollen) is a time consuming venture. I doubt that much benefit is got.

Emasculated, petalless blooms are not attractive to insects. I have learned from trial and error that some pollens are sterile. When these pollens were used on reliable seed parents, no hips were produced. This suggests to me that emasculated, petalless blooms are not visited by pollinators (at least not to any great extent).

If you need to cover the blooms for another reason - go for it, but if not, save that time and use it for pollinating more roses. You will definitely increase your seed production!


I live in San Jose. For some reason, I have a lot of flies and wasps, and constantly I see them on my hips. So that’s why I cover. Usually I leave it on for 3 days before uncovering it, but I have certains doubts. I’m a bit anal when it comes to keeping things straight when it comes to hybridizing.


Jim, the zip lock bag method also serves a second purpose. I found that it was the easiest way to label the cross on the rose (with the paint pen), and after I harvest the hip, the bag still serves as the container and the label.

I cover with paper coin envelopes from the time I emasculate until I pollinate. I believe the covers protect the bloom from the hot dry winds. I have used the tin foil from cup cake baking cups during rainy weather. I thought the cups were easier and faster for me than the flat tin foil.

Hi Jon…

The nylon that we’ve used with success is the nylon netting from the fabric store used for craft projects, pot-scrubbers, veils, etc. It breathes, is visible, is weatherproof and is applied ONLY after the hip develops.

I think some of the responders got a bit off topic.

It isn’t done to protect the emasculated bloom from attracting a pollinator…it is done to protect the maturing hip from being foraged by a chipmunk, squirrel or deer which is what I understood your question to be about.:O)

When we pollinate ouside we often use a coffee filter wrapped around and tied with a twist tie as a temp cover for a couple of days. Haven’t had any condensation problems with this.

Okay, I guess that I am in the minority here as I do not cover my hips for any reason, whatsoever. My seed production has improved every year, mostly due to selection of mother plants.

It is interesting to note that around the country each of us has overcome adversity in our rose breeding hobby unique to our circumstances.

I have focused on efficiency in making the largest number of successful crosses in the least amount of time. Fortunately, I do not have critters to contend with (at least not since we got rid of those darn geese! - but that’s another story).