The Rosa rugosa, or hedgehog rose, is a hardy rambling plant that grows in most climates and is easy to grow and maintain. Rosa rugosa is tolerant of harsh conditions such as full sun, wind, salty air and poor soil. It does require a periodic pruning to keep it healthy, promote new growth and give it a well-manicured look.
Inspect the Rosa rugosa shrub during the end of winter or at the start of spring. Remove any dead or diseased branches and any branches that may have frost damage from the winter. Cut back to the green wood on a branch, about 1 inch below the dark or dead area and with a 45-degree cut. Protect you hands and arms by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and garden gloves.
Locate and remove weaker branches throughout the shrub and any branches that appear to be growing into the centre of the bush. This will allow more sunlight and air to reach the inner parts of the shrub. To prevent damage caused by two crossing branches, remove the weaker of the two branches.
Examine the base of the plant during the spring for new suckers. Remove the suckers below the soil line to stimulate new growth in the upper branches. Once each spring, completely cut and remove a couple of older or larger branches to promote new growth and help keep the plant from becoming overcrowded.
Shape the shrub yearly in the late winter or early spring by cutting it back no more than one third of its size. This will improve the health of the plant, control its growth and keep it well-manicured.
Remove dead or spent blooms periodically during the growing season. This will promote new blooming and cut down on potential disease sites. Towards the end of the blooming season, some gardeners prefer to leave the spent blooms on the shrub because colourful rose hips will form adding a decorative look and birds find them an enjoyable treat.