Abraham Darby -- arghh!

For the life of me, I cannot get the seeds of Abraham Darby to germinate. This is my second year using it, and out of ~200 seeds last year and ~300 seeds this year, I have yet to have one seed germinate.

The seeds are all big and healthy so I believe they are viable. After failure last year, I statified for a full 3 months this year…still nothing.

Any suggestions?

Just keep holding them-- I had Livin’ Easy x Rugelda seedlings that didn’t germinate for 6 months. Such beautiful flowers, but terribly mildew ridden foilage…

So strange. Wonder whats with the mildew concerning kordesii relations (via Living Easy). I got nothing but midewed seedlings last year with Dortmund which I thought was rather odd especially since barely anything mildews here. Shadow Dancer and Belle Epoque (more kordesii relations) seedlings this year are so far superb, though. Maybe Im just hitting the right combinations. What is Rugelda like disease wise? Ive never grown it. I have Robusta (its parent) and it is mildew free but it can get some blackspot. However, I imagine it has a mildew prone ancestor somewhere as to get that bright of red into a first generation hybrid rugosa. Is there a foliage difference between Robusta and Rugelda? Robusta has thick, leathery foliage for sure. Maybe the change of density has an effect?

AbD does germinate some, but I tend to use it as a pollen parent because you get more seedlings that way.

Jim Sproul

I’m with Jim on that one: use it for pollen more than as a seed parent, unless you can’t make your cross any other way. Its seeds are not easy germinators, and at best I get about 20% germination. They are often the last to germinate. You’ll get a lot more work done if you use its pollen on other roses.


Rugelda was a great seed setter, but I primarily used its pollen. I mostly crossed it with Livin’ Easy because I got lots of seeds and lots of germinations.

Foilage often looked like they were “bubbled”. And mildew really quickly.

2 years ago I made a Livin’ Easy x R. kordesii cross. They were some good seedlings, but snails got to them. Luckily somebody else grew the seeds, and one looks very nice. Email me if you would like to see last years pic (can’t post it up here since I don’t have a place to host them).

Thank guys. This is my last year using it as a seed parent. I am glad to know that it is one of the last to germinate. Everything else has germinated already, so I was getting worried.

I had a small batch of AD seeds (four, to be precise) to try so far this year; I also let mine stratify for three months, after which time the achenes came apart easily. I soaked the “naked” seeds in a dilute solution of fish emulsion (as a germination stimulant and damping-off preventative) and hydrogen peroxide in a cup placed directly under fluorescent lights for about eight hours, and then embedded them in the surface of the growing medium. One seed germinated almost immediately; one seed rotted after a few weeks, and the other two remain dormant but healthy. I’ve returned them to the refrigerator for a bit of extra chilling. I guess 25% so far isn’t bad at all, considering the previous comments!

Oh, and for some reason, its pollen just wasn’t taking on any of the early crosses I tried it with. Maybe tough seed parents were the problem, but one of them seems to do well enough with other kinds of pollen and rejected every attempt with AD. The reverse cross, however, took easily.

ABD pollen has been very fertile for me.

Jim Sproul

Jim, that’s exactly why I thought it was so odd when it failed for me! Everyone notes that its pollen works well. I’ll just have to switch to some new pod parents and give it another go. Or chalk it up to a strange year (though it’s always that) and try again with the same ones.

Hello Shane,

Did you try to give your seeds a second cold-period (winter).

Some hard to germinate varieties will germinate better in the second year. Also some seeds with yellow parents in the background will sometimes germinate better in the second year.

I always give my seeds a second cold-period from Oct. to Dec. regardless of how many have germinated.

Here is what I did with my seeds from 'Shades of Pink’X ‘Rosa Nutkana’

After two month cold-period in the fridge at 4 to 6 C I planted the seeds in seed trays and left them in my basement at about 15 to 18 C for germination. This is what I do with all my seeds. Nothing germinated after over two month and then I put the whole seed tray back into the fridge for 4-5 weeks for another cold period instead of waiting for a whole year. Maybe I fooled nature to think it’s a second winter !!!

When back in my basement for a week or two I had lots of germination all of a sudden. (50 out of 200 seeds)

Right now I am doing the same thing with several hundred seeds of my ‘Buffy Sainte-Marie’ rose, as not a single one came up.

George Mander

Link: www3.telus.net/georgemander

George is right on this. After my initial post, I gave the Abraham Darby seeds a second stratification period (~5 weeks) in the fridge and now they are germinating in decent numbers after a week in the greenhouse. It may be a combination of the extra stratification and the varying temperatures in the greenhouse (I tried to germinate them in the basement before). This also helped with some other tough-to-germinate varieties.

Thanks for all your help!