Tuesday, May 10, 2011

121-06-14: impressions in year five.

Breeding roses is not a game for the "instant gratification" crowd. Patience, for us, is not a virtue, it is a requirement.

Cross #121-06 was created in Spring 2006; that is when I selected pollen from Austin's 'Tradescant' and placed it on blooms of my own seedling, 174-02-17 ('Sheri Anne' X 'Out of Yesteryear'). The foloowing year, probably April 2007, this seedling first appeared in a tray of seed mix topped with a generous layer of Perlite (for Damping Off suppression, did you know?) Although I do not have any notes to indicate when I first saw it flower, chances are it bloomed for the first time in June or July of 2007. The first bloom probably did little more than hint at bloom color and form, but apparently it was enough to make me select it for potting on for further observation.

In later Winter 2008, however, this seedling was almost destroyed by a week's worth of hard freezes that went down into the low teens every night. It was still in a 5 gallon container and rose roots don't like freezing solid while in pots. Long story short, it did survive, although it took more than a year to recover its vigor. 2010 showed me what a potential jewel this seedling was, with its deep garnet/purple swirls of petals, reminding me sometimes of 'Charles de Mills' or some such anachronistic creature. But unlike its Gallic brethren, this lad blooms in flushes through the growing season; pretty much a requirement for modern hybrids. (Although I am often found arguing for the merits of the elegant once bloomers)

I'm not done passing judgement on this seedling; it has yet to tell me much about ease of propagation, or its ultimate disease resistance out in the open test bed. It isn't yet as big as it will get when fully matured, and so I need to be quite sure this dark Swan doesn't turn rabid in year 6 or 7 and produce all manner of rank growth, breaking from its compact grace and going all "Audrey" on me. Time, as they say, will tell.


  1. "Going all Audrey on me..." I love it! Thanks for my morning laugh, Paul! I love your obscure references. Kim

  2. Hi Paul, I am new at playing with a bit of amateur hybridizing on a very small scale, but would love to know what you use for the seed mix you mentioned in this article. I used ordinary potting mix and had modest success with seed germination. But now the seedlings are just sitting there and not putting on more growth, so I thought perhaps something better in the starting medium would be a help for next time. Thanks! --sally

  3. Hi Sally,
    I use an all purpose potting mix by Gardner & Bloome, which serves as both the seed sowing strata, and the mix they get as they move up into 3" pots, then to gallons, and so on. Rose seed often germinates poorly, and by that I mean, you can sow 1000 seeds of a cross and get ten seedlings. I don't mind that when the cross is difficult and even ONE seedling would be useful, so I don't worry much about germination rates. It is possible you had a normal germination rate for the seeds you sowed.
    As for stalled seedling, that is hard to comment on. Many factors influence seedling development. It depends on whether you grow under lights, or in a greenhouse, etc, etc. Without knowing all the little details about your growing conditions, I couldn't say what is going on, and it would be far too presumptive to suggest that the soil mix is to blame.

  4. Thanks for the information on the potting mix, Paul. I have my seedlings outside where they get morning sun only, as it has been pretty warm for small plants in afternoon sun exposure where we live (Chico, CA). We are still in early spring of course, so perhaps they will get going better as nights warm up too. I will wait and see--this is my first venture into planting rose seed, so I don't expect instant success--will consider this year a learning experience.

  5. Thanks for the info on the seed mix, Paul. I will see how the seedlings do as the weather warms more consistently. I returned home from out of town last night and at last did notice some real growth, so perhaps the cool spring has been the hold up on growth here.