What is the best way to not kill a rosa minutifolia?

I just purchased a Rosa minutifolia which seems quite healthy and it has recently sent out a new fat stem from its’ base. I am notorious for killing healthy plants that might need less care than most, so if anyone can give me what they consider the most important care aspects of this rose, I would be grateful. I know they need less water, what about drainage?, fertilizer? can they tolerate any shade? It is in a one gal–how soon can it be canned up to a five gal?
This may sound ridiculous but I do live only a couple miles (as the crow flies) from where these once were native–just down the hill a little bit from Otay Mesa. So the weather should be the least of my problems. Just not to much info on this species on the net.

I would write to the nursery from whence it came and ask them. I killed mine without hardly trying and wished I had done that.

My current three plants are approaching ten years of age. They are potted in Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting soil in five gallon cans. They receive hot sun, filtered through larger rose bushes to prevent them from having to endure long periods of extreme heat and sun. They get watered with the same hose, on the same frequency, at the same time all the others do. The pots drain very well so water logging isn’t an issue with the aridity and heat they suffer. “In the wild”, they don’t endure the extremes of our inland valley heat. It gets warm there, but not to the levels we do. They also receive many ocean fogs which provide much of their annual moisture. That’s what those tiny leaves and dense, tiny prickles are good for…filtering out the moisture from dewy or foggy air while permitting photosynthesis and limiting sun scald when it isn’t foggy or dewey. Mine are at their happiest when they don’t have to endure hours of full, direct, southern sun when it’s bad here. During those spells, I make sure they remain quite well watered.

It’s natural for them to go deciduous during summer to reduce their water stress. As long as I maintain sufficient soil moisture, mine retain their foliage, green, and will often continue flowering as long as I maintain that condition. I just watered them a few minutes ago as it is supposed to get hot again this week and I wanted to maintain them in this condition. They want sun, they just don’t want to fry without relief. They want drainage, but that must be tempered with the water level. If you’re watering them continuously, plant in sand. If they get very infrequent water, plant in decomposed granite. The moisture control soil seems perfect because it never water logs and retains moisture for the plant. Of course, this is what worked in Newhall (zone 9b) and Encino (zone 10a). Minutifolia will endure triple digits and it WILL complain the entire time. Give it some relief from those extremes and keep it watered and it grows just fine, or did for over fifteen years in Newhall and has for nearly ten since Newhall.

Thanks, Kim. Just looking at the plant it is hard to believe that it will endure as much water as the rest of the potted roses, which can be daily (and was a lot of the time this past summer) although I only try to water the in ground ones at most every other day, and right now am down to once every three days. But quite a few of those did go dormant in August and are just now leafing out again. I think it is just that I only have one of them (kind of like the first kid-and I always feel sorry for the first and only kid) and I do not want to kill or even set it back. Don, I bought this from the Native Plant Society annual sale this past weekend and I had a schedule conflict and had to have a friend (of a friend) pick it up for me. She apologized for how scraggly looking it is, but I thought it looked like a pretty nice specimen. I am not sure who grew it or even where they got them from. I was told they had 3 of them. Kim, in Baja they might get a lot of fog and dew, but here they do not. I do not know if this is from the Baja stock or from the Otay Mesa stock. Do you know where yours originated? And is yours male fertile? My understanding is that the Otay Mesa stock is female infertile, or is it totally infertile? Interesting rose, regardless.

Tree of Life nursery and all others who offer Minutifolia sell the San Diego type. Only Rancho Santa Ana Botanic-Grow Natives Nursery has the Mexican variant which is fertile. They are not yet offering it for sale. I have been in contact with them (repeatedly) and am assured they are propagating it and will reserve plants of it for me in spring. None of the Huntington Minutifolia in the Cactus Garden ever formed hips all the years I haunted them. None of the plants I witnessed at Sequoia ever formed hips. Supposedly, there are the two forms, Californian and Mexican, but Ralph Moore had eleven different variations, differing primarily in foliage size, density and intensity of the “dill scent” from the growth tips. They were all grown in the same green houses so variation due to conditions weren’t the cause. He attempted budding and grafting it numerous times, all unsuccessfully and he pimped that pollen, both ways, on virtually everything he had in his “harem”, with the same results…nada.

Here are my three plants.
Growth from roots broken off in the ground when I replanted this spring to replace soil in the cans.

I allow them to “ride high” above the soil to prevent the crown from remaining too wet.
The thick cane in the foreground is an ancient Queen Elizabeth I permit to flop due to weight and length to help shade the plant from extreme sun.

Kim it like that for Hulthemia persica, alot of people think all deserts are very hot. The area where my Hulthemia’s come from Summer temperatures are around 86F as compared with the Summer temperatures here at home are are between 104 to 113 F. In January I place them in position where they recieve filtered light. Once the temps go way above 86F they tend to go backwards. About drainage, the parents of these seedlings were growing in very gravley soils.

Thanks, Warren, that makes sense. “Desert” is as much about aridity as it can be about heat. Being “coastal scrub” community members, they’re not as much heat lovers as they are lower water survivors.


Coastal scrub


Were it not for the imploding, rapidly decomposing nature of my hillside, combined with the increase in intensity and duration of the heat and solar radiation, it MIGHT have been possible for them to be happier here as hillside plantings. But, those days are far behind us now.

In reading old entries about the minutifolia, I see that you have successfully made crosses with it, Kim. Are any of these still in existence? They did not sound like vigorous seedlings. I am temporarily placing it with my figs which I do not usually overwater-they tend to let me know when they really need the agua.

No ma’am. Nothing has survived. I currently have seeds from Ping Dong Yue Ji, L-56 (Sproul), two seedlings of my own breeding, and 42-03-02 with (hopefully!) Minutifolia pollen. There are probably others I’m not remembering, but there are so many bags of tagged cross seeds in the refrigerator I don’t want to drag out to list. I keep trying. One of these days, something will work. I have hopes for the Ping Dong cross. It’s made some astounding looking plants with the 1-72-1Hugonis and Fedtschenkoana pollens.

Multiple people I’ve heard from both on the web and not, have said they’ve killed their Rosa minutifolia by overwatering. So I would be careful. Growing in a pot with excellent drainage you might be able to give it more water than it wants without killing it, but even if it survives, it may not give you any hips. In the ground, I really wouldn’t water it very often. My garden is very hot and dry. The Rosa minutifolia that is doing the best here is in a planting with drought tolerant CA natives in full sun.

I have 8 plants of Rosa minutifolia, all growing in the ground. Three of the 8 are a white-flowered selection, Rosa minutifolia ‘Pure Bea’. I bought all of mine from my local botanic garden, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (in Claremont) which is about a mile and half from my house. RSABG is the introducer of Pure Bea. This botanic garden has been growing R. minutifolia for more than 50 years, the ones planted on the grounds are all from material collected in Baja. I am very interested in this rose, and have been observing it in the various locations at RSABG. Plus I have asked the staff just how they care for this rose. It performs differently in different spots. The biggest, most healthy plants, that produce the most flowers and hips are in one of the Baja beds. Full sun, no mulch, no summer water, no fertilizer (inland empire, zone 9b, summer highs frequently in the 100s). Ground around them is pretty bare. They go summer dormant and look truly awful, crispy mounds of deadness, then when we get any rain, they rapidly green up and start blooming. These particular plants set hundreds, if not thousands of hips. But on other plants in the garden, those that get a fair amount of shade, and some summer water, well they stay fairly green. However, they set few if any hips, even though they come from the same plant material (same accession number in the database) from Baja. Another location that also does not receive summer water, but gets some shade, also has plants that set numerous hips, but not nearly as many as those in the Baja area of the botanic garden. I have been bugging RSABG to propagate their pink-flowered, Baja plants, for the last several years, and I think finally this will happen.

Interestingly, the pink-flowered plants that I have purchased from RSABG so far, were grown by Suncrest Nurseries for sale at RSABG. I contacted Suncrest for the source of their plant material. I was told it came from Tree of Life Nursery. IIRC, Tree of Life Nursery got their plant material from San Diego. I asked Suncrest if their Rosa minutifolia set hips, and they said no. Yet one of them did so for me (picture posted on HMF), yes it was in the vicinity of R. minutifolia ‘Pure Bea’, but I am wondering if the lack of hips is due to not allowing the plant to go summer dormant???

Recently, I found this page on the Calflora site, showing where R. minutifolia has been found growing in the wild in California, Rosa minutifolia Calflora. One of the locations is San Bernardino, CA, where it was collected in 1883, Observation Search - Calflora. That location is now very much developed, but maybe somewhere in the area, on the outskirts of the city, it might be found again. I am hoping!


Great information. I have a very low fertility, high sun,location that gets watered less than once per month in summer, none in winter except for native rainfall. But I have to admit that I am afraid it would die up there, and it is hard for anyone to maintain. Even some cacti and succulents have given up there, however a few like a saquaro, some bear grass and a blue palo verde are doing fairly well, along with a few aeonium that go dormant every summer. Having eight of these specimens sounds like a very good idea. Does RSABG still sell their white clone? Thanks for contributing your experience.