How to Collect and Save Rose Seeds for Planting

There is something truly intoxicating about a bountiful rose garden.

While it might seem like a costly endeavor to fill your yard with roses, there is actually an easy, and practically free, way to take one bush and turn it into many.

A close up vertical image of a small wicker basket with whole and sliced rose hips spilling out onto a jute table mat on a wooden surface. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Read on to learn how to collect and save the seeds you need to grow new ones!

Each season, rose bushes form buds which open into fragrant blooms that are pollinated by butterflies, bees, and wasps.

Once the flowers begin to die back, you will notice green ovaries begin to swell at the base of the blooms.

A close up horizontal image of green rose hips ripening on the bush pictured on a soft focus background.

These fleshy pods, known as rose hips, will slowly ripen to red, orange, or yellow. The seeds are contained within these pods.

A close up vertical image of rose hips on the shrub pictured on a soft focus background.

In addition, the hips are edible and make a delicious nutrient-rich tea. You can learn all about the health benefits here.

Deadhead with Care

It is worth noting that there are many hybridized cultivars out there, and not all plants create hips or produce viable offspring.

You may not know before you try whether the particular cultivar you have will produce usable seed, but since collecting them is so easy, I say there isn’t much harm in giving it a shot.

A close up horizontal image of spent flowers on a rose bush pictured on a soft focus background.

One reason that some blooms may not form hips is because flowers are removed before pollination can happen. It is important to leave old blooms to fall off on their own to give the hips a chance to develop.

At the same time, hip formation requires energy, and if too many are allowed to form on each plant, it could become overburdened, possibly resulting in underdeveloped seeds.

A close up horizontal image of a hand from the right of the frame holding a pair of pruners, deadheading a spent flower.

Therefore, deadheading some but not all of the blooms can create fewer but stronger hips that are more likely to produce viable seeds. You can read all about how to do this in our guide.

Cut no more than two thirds of the flowers off the plant, and also remove any brown or shriveled pods.

Harvest the Ripe Hips

Collect the well ripened hips in late summer or fall, a few months after they begin to form, and once they have fully turned from green to red, orange, or yellow and have softened up a bit.

Some gardeners suggest picking them right after the first light frost of fall, but before a hard frost has a chance to send the plant into dormancy. Either way, just be sure they are completely ripe.

A close up horizontal image of a small wicker basket filled with freshly harvested rose hips set on a wooden surface pictured on a soft focus background.

Harvesting is easy, but if you are growing varieties with thorns, don’t forget to wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid getting pricked!

When you are ready, with gloves donned and basket in hand, simply pluck the hips off of the plant with your fingers.

If you are collecting from more than one cultivar, separating them into different containers may be helpful to note the parent plants. But unless you are breeding them in a controlled environment, don’t expect an exact replica to grow after you plant the seeds.

Bees and other pollinators may transport pollen from one plant to another, and it is impossible to know exactly where the pollen is winding up. Additionally, seeds collected from hybrid varieties may not breed true.

In any case, be prepared to propagate something different than what you started with!

Remove and Clean the Seeds

After harvesting, carefully cut or pry the hips open with a knife or your fingers, and remove the contents within. If the pods are ripe, they should come apart pretty easily.

A close up horizontal image of freshly picked rose hips with one cut in half to reveal the seeds inside.

Remove as much of the pulp and other fibrous material as you can by hand, and then use a strainer to rinse off any leftover chaff from the seeds under cool running water.

Another method is to put the hips in a glass of water and mash them up a bit with a spoon. Leave them to soak for a day or two, and then pull out the loose pulp by hand. Using a strainer, rinse off the remaining debris.

A close up horizontal image of rose hips stewing in a saucepan pictured on a soft focus background.

With either of these methods, after you’re done, drop the cleaned seeds in a glass of water to test for viability. Those that float to the top are less likely to germinate and should be discarded.

Spread the remainder on a coffee filter or paper towel and set in a dark, cool location to dry. Leave them for a week or two until they are completely dry to eliminate the risk of spoilage.

Store in a labeled plastic bag in the refrigerator or any dark cool place until you are ready to use them.

Now you are ready to try your hand at growing new plants. These seeds can be tricky to get to germinate, but is t is a rewarding project. You can learn more about propagating roses from seed in our guide.

Make Your Bed of Roses

If you want to multiply a rose garden cheaply and are up for a bit of a surprise, saving seeds is without a doubt the way to go!

After all, no matter what you end up with, the flowers are sure to be aromatic and delightful.

Red roses growing in the garden covered in droplets of rain water, with pink flowers.

Have you ever saved your own rose seeds? Tell us how it went in the comments below!

Looking to take your rose gardening skills to the next level? These articles are a great place to start:

Photo of author
Heather Buckner hails from amongst the glistening lakes of Minnesota, and now lives with her family on a beautiful homestead in the Vermont Mountains. She holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from Tufts University, and has traveled and worked in many roles in conservation and environmental advocacy, including creating and managing programs based around resource conservation, organic gardening, food security, and building leadership skills. Heather is a certified permaculture designer and student herbalist. She is also a fanatical gardener, and enjoys spending as much time covered in dirt as possible!

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Sue (@guest_16443)
2 years ago

I am trying to grow roses from seed for the first time this year. I’ve been admiring wild roses in the Adirondacks for years, amazed at the size of the hips. So this year a brought a few home. I also saved some seeds from my own rose bush and from my miniature rose bush.

Griselda Black
Griselda Black (@guest_17800)
Reply to  Sue
2 years ago

Hi Sue! I am venturing into trying to propagate by seed. I don’t have any yet. I wish I would have read this article first. I deadheaded the rose bush I want to get seeds from. I’ll be sure to not deadhead any new roses or at least not all of them. I have had luck propagating from a cutting. It took 15 month for the cutting to grow and produce its first bloom. I’m over the moon. I’ll stay hopeful that it gives me seeds even though it’s the rose bush is so small. I am going to ask… Read more »

Griselda Black
Griselda Black (@guest_17801)
Reply to  Griselda Black
2 years ago

I meant to share these pictures.

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren(@kristinelofgren)
Gardening Writer
Reply to  Griselda Black
2 years ago

Your cuttings look fabulous! Thanks for sharing and keep up updated on your adventures growing roses by seed.

Griselda (@guest_18537)
Reply to  Kristine Lofgren
1 year ago

Wanted to give an update on my rose cutting. It gave me a second rose. ❤️

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren(@kristinelofgren)
Gardening Writer
Reply to  Griselda
1 year ago

That rose is just stunning! Congrats on a very happy plant! Do you happen to know what cultivar it is?

Rick (@guest_25780)
1 year ago

We traveled to the Maine coast last summer in August. We were amazed by the vibrant purple color of the coastal rose so we picked a few hips. At home we washed them and picked out the seeds and stored them until now February in the cabinet. Started to soak them in light hydrogen peroxide for an hour before putting them in a moist napkin/ziploc and storing them for a few weeks in the fridge. Worried now because they are all floating! Do they have a chance of germinating after storing them dry? Thanks.

Rita lingwood
Rita lingwood (@guest_31111)
Reply to  Heather Buckner
1 year ago

I am shocked you soaked them in peroxide it would surely ruin them !

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Rita lingwood
1 year ago

Soaking seeds in a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide generally causes them no harm. It simply helps to soften the seed coat.

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett (@guest_31662)
1 year ago

I am trying hard to get the teeny tiny rose hips from my miniature rose bush…..they are already dead on the vine so I cut them and brought them in and under magnification I could not see any seeds in the tiny seed pods… ideas please ???

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren(@kristinelofgren)
Gardening Writer
Reply to  Carol Burnett
11 months ago

Hi Carol, how unusual. I’ve never encountered a hip without seeds unless it was too young to have fully developed. When you say that you found seed pods, do you mean that you cut open the fleshy hips and found seed pods inside? If so, these are the seeds. You don’t need to open them. Or do you mean that you cut open the hips and found no seeds? If you didn’t find seeds, where are you located? Few hips are ripe this time of year in North America. Most don’t start ripening for another month or so. It could… Read more »