I am sure most rose growers never have any interest or knowledge where the roses they have in their garden came from and less knowledge how they were developed. But there are a few where interest exists and I would like to write for these gardeners in the aim of helping them if they would like to try and develop a new rose.

My first attempt to breed a new roses came after I met George Thomson at his Mt Barker property. George had been breeding roses for over 40 years and had considerable success with developing delightful flowers on neat compact bushes.

I was so impressed with what he had developed I went to the nearest bush when I returned home, took off all the petals of a flower, picked another flower and crossed them. WOW!!! I did it.

After several weeks the flowers withered and died. Why had my cross not taken? It was then I started to ask questions and George laughed and told me of my errors.

I would like to offer new breeders some tips which have been passed to me and may help.

  1. I feel the art of bringing up seed is as important and the craft of cross pollination. For a new breeder start by collecting seed pods in May/June and practise getting out the seeds from the pods. I found cutting the pod in half with secateurs and scooping out the seeds with the point of the secateurs both quick and relatively safe.

    After seeds were removed they were placed in a plastic bag and into a refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.After this time they are ready to plant and I use plastic poly boxes nearly filled with basic potting mix and lightly compacted. Seeds were removed from the refrigerator and taken to be planted. I did not worry about seeing which seeds floated or sank. To me if they did not grow they were not meant to and only the space in the box would be wasted. Seeds covered in potting mix and watered well.I have found this part of the job must occur prior to 1st july for best success but May/early June is the ideal time.

    I feel for the beginner practice with self set seeds is important to get used to the timing and processers so when vital crosses have been made mistakes can be avoided.

  2. Most breeders do recognise the importance of records. Prior to any hybridising season, normally in the cold of winter, consideration of the coming spring crosses are made. Sometimes it is as simple as what pollen plants we have at our disposal while others use past knowledge of good parents or successful crosses to help their selection.

    In any case there must be some planning done and even preparation of labels for once crossing occurs our time is limited.

  3. In my operation I have the luxury of having plants purely for pollen collection and others purely for crossing. It is quick and easy to harvest large numbers of flowers and collect the pollen in the comfort of the house, not the heat of the sun. For those with limited plants the collection of pollen is undertaken into a container as a flower is being prepared.

    Pollen is collected in plastic take away containers and name of pollen written on lid. Pollen placed in warm area to release. I leave pollen for 2-4 days to release.

    2 days prior to being needed all flowers to be crossed are prepared. This can take some time as huge numbers are crossed with the same cross on the same bush. The cross is made simply by wiping a finger into the pollen and tapping onto the Stigma of the prepared flower. As George taught me if there is no colour of the petals or pollen anthers removed bees will not be attracted. In any case the main reason we cross is to try and get a new variety and for me I am not as concerned if nature has helped or if it is entirely me.

    It is important to tag all crosses made. In my case a simple twist tie on the branch shows which ones have been crossed however if individual crosses have been made on a bush some form of individual tagging must be made.

  4. In a few weeks we know if the cross has been successful. All we need do now is wait (and hope a keen gardener does not want to help and deadhead all the old seed pods.
  5. When the hips are nice and red collection occurs. In my case I use plastic bags marked with the particular cross. Seed pods are now ready for the collection stage which is where I started.

Give it a go.


Created   20/11/2014