Deer Proof Rosa Rugosa Hybrids: Five Rugous Roses for Deer Free Gardens

by DerdriuMarriner

Five fragrant, pretty Rosa rugosa hybrids excel at discouraging deer as garden invaders.

Rosa rugosa, originally an east Asian species of wild rose, produces tough hybrids with legendary survival attributes, including repelling deer.

Hardy and sturdy, rugosas beguile when they blend with the landscape. Sadly, an unfortunate stereotype of Rosa rugosa in the environment, particularly along sand dunes in maritime landscapes, persistently conveys a hardscrabble image of sprawling, unrefined stragglers.

Their steadfast scents, determined flowering, and distinctive leaves affirm their unmistakable presence. In fact, their species name, rugosa, is derived from their rugous -- i.e., wrinkled -- foliage.

In particular, their aromatic tendency toward intense redolence of cloves dissuades deer from remaining in the vicinity of Rosa rugosa hybrids.

Five Rosa rugosa hybrids which excel at repelling deer include:

• 'Agnes" (1922),

• 'Blanc Double de Coubert' (1892),

• 'Hansa' (1905),

• 'Scabrosa' (1950), and

• 'Thérèse Bugnet' (1950).

All five are classified for plant hardiness to Zone 4 (-30° to -20° Fahrenheit; -35° to -29° Celsius).

These five hybrids also enchant with their contributions, not only to safeguarding, but also to prettifying, gardens.

'Agnes': pale sunshine

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, central Spain
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, central Spain



Canada's early rose breeder William Saunders  (June 16, 1836 – September 13, 1914) was first Director of Central Experimental Farm (CEF) and Arboretum, which was established with 188 hectares on the western outskirts of Ottawa in 1886. William focused on hybridizing roses to withstand Canada's brutal winters.

In 1900 William bred 'Agnes,' which he introduced in 1922 and named in honor of his wife. The rose's parentage is Rosa rugosa x Rosa foetida 'Persiana.'

'Agnes' attains a maximum height of 6.6 feet (2 meters) and a spread of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters).

Double flowers open early in the season as pale yellow, reflective of its golden yellow 'Persiana' heritage. Buff tints, which sometimes appear, deepen to amber toward the center. The American Rose Society classifies the coloring of 'Agnes' as medium yellow.

Thin petals give a bedraggled look to the slightly cupped, open shape of the flowers during persistent rainy onslaughts. Nevertheless, the petals recover to assure floral longevity.

Flower size measures 3.1 inches (8 centimeters).

'Agnes' exudes a light, fruity scent.

Clear green leaves are small and roughly ribbed.

Able to survive minimum average winter temperatures of -30° to -20° Fahrenheit (-35° to -29° Celsius), 'Agnes' has a U.S.D.A. plant hardiness classification of Zone 4.


'Blanc Double de Coubert': dazzling white purity

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, central Spain
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, central Spain

'Blanc Double de Coubert'


'Blanc Double de Coubert' was introduced in 1892 by Charles Pierre Marie Cochet-Cochet (1866 - 1936) of the illustrious Cochet rosebreeding dynasty established southeast of Paris by Charles' great-grandfather, Pierre Christophe Cochet (April 20, 1777 - October 12, 1819) in 1799.

One of the Cochet nurseries was located in Coubert, a commune ("township") in the Seine-et-Marne department, Île de France region, in north-central France, east-northeast of Paris.

Its parentage is Rosa rugosa x 'Sombreuil.' 

'Blanc Double de Coubert' reaches a maximum height of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) with an equiproportionate spread of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters).

Crinkly, white semi-double flowers measure 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) and bloom almost continuously.

Pleated, wrinkled leaves turn splendorous yellow in autumn. The dense, vigorous foliage of 'Blanc Double de Coubert' make it ideal as a garden barrier.

Its strong fragrance is richly sweet and reminiscent of eglantine (Rosa rubiginosa).

Its plant hardiness classification is Zone 4, with a survivable minimum temperature range of -30° to -20° Fahrenheit; -35° to -29° Celsius.


'Hansa': silky, sumptuous magenta

Rosa 'Hansa' (Hybrid Rugosa)
Rosa 'Hansa' (Hybrid Rugosa)



'Hansa' was introduced in 1905 by Schaum & Van Tol of Boskoop, a town famous for its nurseries in the province of South Holland, western Netherlands.

'Hansa' honors the Hanseatic League, the legendary northern European trading alliance of merchant guilds, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. Formed by 1259, the Hanseatic League held its last Hansetag (Hanseatic Diet), council meeting, in 1669 in the north German port city of Lübeck, which had served as the League's stellar center. The League was never dissolved officially.

Parentage of 'Hansa' is unknown.

'Hansa' maximizes its height at 6.6 feet (2 meters) and its spread at 4.9 feet (1.5 meters).

Elegantly long buds open as semi-double, silky magenta flowers with loose, crumpled petals. The American Rose Society classifies the coloring of 'Hansa' as medium red.

Small clusters of 3 to 5 flowers exude an intoxicating, clove-like scent which enchants humans but repels deer.

Flower size measures 3.9 inches (10 centimeters).

Remontant (repeat-flowering) 'Hansa' also puts forth vigorous foliage, with pale green, crinkled leaves.

'Hansa' has a plant hardiness classification of Zone 4 and therefore remains viable through a minimum temperature range of -30° to -20° Fahrenheit; -35° to -29° Celsius.


'Scabrosa': regal, wavy magenta

Guadamur Daramazán, province of Toledo, western Castile-La Mancha, central Spain
Guadamur Daramazán, province of Toledo, western Castile-La Mancha, central Spain


'Scabrosa' was introduced in 1950 by R. Harkness & Company. In 1879, with his sons, John and Robert, Thomas Harkness, a former tailor, founded a nursery, Harkness and Sons, in Bedale, North Yorkshire, North East England. In 1895, impelled by his interest in breeding champion roses and in participating in southern shows, Robert founded R. Harkness & Company in Hitchin, North Hertfordshire District, Hertfordshire, South East England.

The parentage of 'Scabrosa' is unknown. Like a foundling, 'Scabrosa' seems to have made a mysterious, undocumented appearance in the Harkness rose nursery in Hitchin.

'Scabrosa' displays an equiproportionate shape, with maximum height and spread of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters).

Large, single flowers, in clusters of about ten, open as bright magenta, wavy petals with creamy stamens. The American Rose Society classifies the coloring of 'Scabrosa' as mauve/mauve blend.

Blooming into autumn, flowers keep company with large, tomato-shaped hips for the last several months of their lengthy inflorescence.

Flower size measures 4.7 inches (12 centimeters).

The intensely spicy scent of 'Scabrosa' is fragranced with clove-like sweetness.

The crinkly roughness of its leaves is matched with an abundance of prickles, acknowledged by its name, 'Scabrosa,' a feminine adjective in Latin meaning "thorny."

With hardiness classified to Zone 4, 'Scabrosa' survives minimum temperatures ranging from  -30° to -20° Fahrenheit; -35° to -29° Celsius.


'Thérèse Bugnet': deep pink, ruffly confection

Rosa 'Therese Bugnet'
Rosa 'Therese Bugnet'

'Thérèse Bugnet'


Born in the Burgundian town of Chalon-sur-Saône in east central France, Georges Charles-Jules Bugnet (February 23, 1879 - January 11, 1981) immigrated to western Canada with his wife, Julia Ley (June 24, 1882 - October 22, 1970), in 1904. Considered as a major French Canadian writer of the twentieth century, Georges was also a self-taught horticulturist who devoted 25 years to hybridizing roses for survival in the harsh winters of Canada's westernmost prairie province of Alberta.

In 1950, Georges introduced his masterpiece rose, naming it in honor of his sister, Thérèse Bugnet.

The parentage of 'Thérèse Bugnet' is ([Rosa acicularis x Rosa rugosa kamtchatica] x [Rosa amblyotis x Rosa rugosa 'Plena']) x 'Betty Bland.'

The sisterly rose attains a maximum height of 6.6 feet (2 meters) and spreads to 3.3 feet (1 meter).

Clove-scented 'Thérèse Bugnet' opens as bright pink flowers, singly or in clusters of up to five, and fades to pale pink. The American Rose Society classifies the coloring of 'Thérèse Bugnet' as medium pink.

Continuous flowering lasts until the first frost.

Flower size measures 2.8 inches (7 centimeters).

Red stems peek around bronze leaves, which turn to dark yellow in autumn.

'Thérèse Bugnet' has a plant hardiness classification of Zone 4 (-30° to -20° Fahrenheit; -35° to -29° Celsius).


'Thérèse Bugnet': rosy masterpiece by renowned French Canadian writer Georges Bugnet, a self-taught horticulturist

James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, Bay Bay Fens, Boston, east central Massachusetts
James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, Bay Bay Fens, Boston, east central Massachusetts

Conclusion: Rosa rugosa to the rescue


Despite their well-known proclivity for shrubs and trees in the rose family (Rosaceae), deer do not extend categorical affection to the Rosa genus of woody perennials. Rugosas, as rosy survivalists, strongly defend their viability not only against nature's elements, such as bitter cold and salty sea spray, but also against nature's munchers, such as deer.

Aspects of Rosa rugosa hybrids which deter deer include their rough foliage and thorniness. A special deterrent is their tendency toward strong fragrances. Five rugosa hybrids particularly repel deer with their intense scents, especially those which are redolent of cloves, an unpopular fragrance for deer. Cloves are an intensive spice derived from the aromatic flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, a tree native to the Moluccas (Indonesian: Kepulauan Maluku), known as the "Spice Islands," in the Banda Sea in the eastern Indonesian archipelago. Intense fragrances, which mask subtle scents, are disturbing to deer with their survivalist preference for clear detection of all odors in their vicinity.

Although unpalatable to deer, these five rugosa hybrids serve as attractive, effective barriers to safeguard gardens from deer invasions. Floral colors displayed by these hybrids include magenta, pink, white, and yellow. Their fragrances tend toward spicy sweetness. In addition, beneficial insects, such as bees (Apoidea superfamily), butterflies (Lepidoptera order), and ladybugs (Coccinellidae family), are attracted to Rosa rugosa, so these rosy barriers are adorned with fluttering wildlife.

Thus, Rosa rugosa hybrids may be seen, not only as stubborn survivalists, but also as respectable rescuers.


unfortunate stereotype of Rosa rugosa in environment, especially in maritime landscapes: rough, sprawling, and unrefined.

Rosa rugosa Thunb. - rugosa rose
Rosa rugosa Thunb. - rugosa rose



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.



An irregular top of a fence or a gate discourages deer, which prefer to jump over even surfaces.

deer-proof gate: ready for attachment to fence
deer-proof gate: ready for attachment to fence

Sources Consulted


"Blanc double de Coubert." La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne > In This Moment > Rose of the Month. May 2013. Conseil général du Val-de-Marne. Web.

  • Available at: 

"The First Rose - Rosa 'Blanc Double de Coubert.'" A Thousand Words. Saturday, May 19, 2007. Alex Waterhouse-Hayward. Blog.

  • Available at:

"Georges Bugnet." Athabasca University Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Canadian Writers > French-Canadian Writers. Last updated October 11, 2012. Athabasca University. Web.

  • Available at:

Halliday, Stephen. "The First Common Market? The Hanseatic League." History Today, Vol. 59, Issue 7 (2009).

  • Available at:

Harkness, Peter. The Rose: An Illustrated History. London: Firefly Books Ltd., 2003.

Hart, Rhonda Massingham. Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden. North Adams MA: Storey Publishing, 2005.

Modern Roses XI: The World Encyclopedia of Roses. London UK and San Diego CA: Academic Press, 2000.

Quest-Ritson, Charles and Brigid. Encyclopedia of Roses. New York: DK Publishing, 2011.

Roebuck, Field. Complete Roses: Featuring 100 Easy-Growing Favorites. Upper Saddle River NJ: Creative Homeowner®, 2007.

"Rosa 'Hansa' - Alexandra Elizabeth." A Thousand Words. Tuesday, May 29, 2007. Alex Waterhouse-Hayward. Blog.

  • Available at:

"Roses." Canada's Stamp Details, Vol.X No. 3 (July-September, 2001).

  • Available at:



'Scabrosa': wavy magenta around a crown of golden stamens

Rosa 'Scabrosa' (Hybrid Rugosa)
Rosa 'Scabrosa' (Hybrid Rugosa)
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Faceted clear crystal vase shows off six faceted rose blossoms in Ruby crystal.

Sparkling red flowers are complemented with silver-tone rhodium detailing on rose leaves and stems
Swarovski Crystal Red Roses

Bambi: world's most famous white-tailed deer, beautifully designed as Swarovksi crystal figurine.

Dimensions: 3 9/16" x 3 13/16" inches.
Swarovski Crystal Figurine #5004688, Bambi

Practical strategies for "deer-o-scaping" (avoiding plants deer prefer, taking advantage of those they dislike, and incorporating designs and structures to discourage them).

Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden

Earth Sun Moon Trading Company's rose-themed Light Pink 100% cotton t-shirt

Advice from a rose: Make someone's day / Enjoy the sunshine / Remember your beauty stems from within / Be colorful! / Look past the thorns / Make new buds / Bloom! / Be scent-sational!
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The Soul of the Rose: black t-shirt

image of 1908 oil painting by John William Waterhouse (1849 - February 10, 1917)
The Soul of the Rose
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/12/2014, DerdriuMarriner
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


DerdriuMarriner on 01/25/2014

VioletteRose, Me, too, I also love deer, which have access to certain parts of my garden, in addition to the huge uncultivated meadow next to my yard. I am happy that deer enjoy some roses, but not others: by planting both kinds of roses -- those they like, those they dislike -- they and I both get to enjoy roses.

VioletteRose on 01/25/2014

The roses look really pretty, but I think I love deer also :)

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