An opportunity to educate.

Two years ago a teacher at a High School out East contacted me and wanted to know where he could buy rose seeds for his students to experiment with in his class. He also wanted to obtain information on the processes involved in germinating and growing these seeds under lights in the classroom. I sent him the information he required and also shipped him a big bag of rose hips, already partly stratified. We are doing the same this year and I am about to ship him plenty of hips. (mostly OP Miniatures, since these are easy to grow under lights and will be highly rewarding for the kids)

Now comes my question: should this kind of interaction be one of the roles of the RHA and its members, fostering a new generation of people who may take up rose breeding later in life? It seems that it could be an easy task to write a suitable document (via committee or otherwise) that will be classroom-friendly, and to have members supply seeds for interested schools. I am certainly willing to continue doing this on my own, but it is something that I think could be of great benefit to Horticulture students and the schools if we offer such a service on a bigger scale.



Paul Barden

It would probably be beneficial however I was one of the lucky ones. I was lucky to have a Hort program in Highschool. Theyre becoming rare now as information displaces agriculture in US society. I was only lucky because the Ag instructor hired for wood/metal shop also taught Hort and Soils and was very pushy about reviving the greenhouses and teaching those as well. So, actually, it may be more beneficial to give in some way to the teenage crowd (or as my local society refers to them as: “new blood”…kinda creepy lol).

Well, I have no idea how many schools still have Hort classes, but I know of one at least, so there must be more. Since I was addressing High Schools particularly, then we are talking about teenagers, right? Perhaps I didn’t make that part clear, or maybe I misunderstood your comment about aiming at teenagers.


I think roses would be too difficult-- not gratifying as putting a few beans in some earth, and watching it grow in a matter of days.


I am proposing this idea precisely BECAUSE someone tried it and his students LOVED their work and results. It was very sucessful for them. They did not find the project difficult in the least.

I think it’s an excellent idea. The need is to make growing roses fun for the young people.

Did anybody ever notice that kids like pretty things until they’re taught that they shouldn’t?

Over the past several years Gweb forums have had various threads re. the decline of rose societies–mostly lamenting the reasons they’re falling into oblivion, dying member by member, falling prey to economic and other pressures and to the internet. The average age of people in rose societies is probably well over 60 by now–in some, it’s closer to 75.

Growing roses from seeds is fun for me, at least, and I think it would also be fun for kids in elementary and middle schools. If the school has a garden, kids could make crosses in the spring and harvest the hips in the fall and grow seedlings in the spring–and see them in bloom during the spring and the next fall. This could be integrated into lessons on heredity in science courses. And if there is no rose garden, seeds could be supplied along with pictures of the parent(s), and students could be led to explore the ancestry as a way of explaining how the different colors appear in the seedlings. And students could also make cuttings and (this is subversive!) take home plants they made. Ownership is very important to kids. If they own plants and enjoy them, they will learn something very important from growing the plants, and they will come to learn and own the ideas and the pleasure associated with the plants. That’s a take-away thing that nobody can take away from them.

Somebody is going to say, “well, students transfer from one school to another and wouldn’t be able to see the results of what they’d done, so they’d not be interested.” But that is not true for most kids. Even if they transfer, they will carry the interest along with them, the curiosity about what was going to happen. If you present kids with a choice between something interesting (presented in an interesting way) and a video game, the video game will lose most of the time.

What is the connection with rose societies? Gee. I don’t know. Do you? Maybe these kids would get their parents interested (in the here and now), and maybe in later years the kids would get a chance to practice the interest stimulated in earlier life. Maybe. But for now, the interest ought to be to get kids interested in growing roses and other things.

You know something? If we who care about roses don’t do it, who will? It’s not a corporate bottom-line thing.

Some rose societies have successful youth programs, and maybe those who have participated in these programs could be good resources for the sort of effort that Paul is talking about. If you have helped with such a program, speak up.

BTW, I have a lot of threads saved from Gweb and other discussions. I don’t know what can be posted and what can’t, so I won’t post any right now, but maybe someone who’s up on stuff like that would like to work on the project so that all can read either the postings or a summary of the most important things.


I’m in no way qualified to teach like you are suggesting, but I think it’s a fabulous idea. Besides thinking of schools, think about YMCA and other after-school programs, summer programs, girl and boy scouts, etc.

FWIW, my 6 year old daughter was given her own rose bush (Heirloom) 2 years ago and she is thrilled with each and every bloom it gives her. (She won’t let me let it set hips since it would likely decrease her blooms!) She was asking for more roses for this coming year. But she became so intrigued with watching me remove seeds from hips that I ended up giving her her own set of hips, which she de-seeded and is now stratifying. She’s planning on planting whatever roses germinate out in her own little rose bed. Is she hooked? You bet! And my 3 year old son went nuts helping me collect rose hips this fall. I imagine when he’s a few years older he’ll also be raising roses from seed and having his own rose bed. I’ve already promised him that he can pick out a plant from my germinations. He said he wants one with orange blooms!


Jadae, you and I have eerily similar backgrounds down to the shop instructor who pushed the hort. program. WEIRD!!

I’ve noted very few young people getting involved with our local rose society here. I’ll bet in another 10 or twenty years things will be quite different.

Enrique: It is not too difficult if the instructor actually know’s he s/he is doing. Just make sure the seeds are from seed parents that are known to germinate well, etc.

Paul: I’m saying it is a good idea for horticulture as a whole because of the current trends in opting for information based sciences (ie. phsyics, psych, etc) over Ag sciences. One would be surprised to know how many truely have no clue where their food comes from :stuck_out_tongue:

Robert: I know lol! Freaky eh?

I’m looking at the school time frame… school starts around Mid-September. You pick the hips at October or November… (For some of us, till the New Year…)

Then 3 to 4 months of stratification. Germinations in March… April…

And students are out by June.

I’m just thinking about the praticality of such a lesson plan. It would take a whole school year, and teachers need to hustle here and there to make things work while satisfying their state’s educational standards.

It’s pretty dang hard to create a good lesson plan for one day, but to cordinate one that will weave in a school year?

I can see this happening in private, year long schools… but not the public schools I’ve went.

I think the only way this could be done is a fun project for students. No points… just for fun.

I’ve seen mention, here and there on this forum, of varieties of roses which seem to germinate with a very brief stratification period. Perhaps if those were the focus of such a program it would help wrt to time frame issue.

I think it’s still do-able. I usually have roses germinating by February and March. Assuming they are repeat-bloomers, they ought to have blooms at least once before kids are out of school.

I still say it’s a good idea. There might be details to be ironed out, but Paul’s own experience with it demonstrates that it can work.



Allow me to reiterate: One school has already tried this experiment and found it to be highly successful. The students had a lot of fun and it was a rewarding experience for all involved.

I ship them open pollinated seed from Miniature varieties that are KNOWN to be easy and fast germinators. Miniatures require far less stratification than many other varieties, sometimes germinating with no cold dormancy at all. Miniatures are also well-known for their ability to bloom within weeks of germination. The class can sow seeds in late January or early February (the seeds have been in the fridge a month already) and have seedlings ready to pot up by March 1st, easily. Under fluorescent lights they can bloom in as little as four to six weeks from germination. That means that can easily see the first bloom on their seedlings before the end of the school year. I think that at the point the student gets to see his/her seedling bloom for the first time, the program has succeeded; anything that happens after that point is icing on the cake.

Does that clarify the concept?


Understanding where roses come from is a big deal in itself. Ive found that 95% of the people Ive encountered that Ive told what I do for fun had no clue that that is where roses come from. They really have no clue.

Sounds like there is some interest within the RHA members that could work very well with the American Rose Society’s “Young Rosarians of America Committee”.

What do you think guys and gals?


I have never done as Paul suggested but I have worked with a lot of H.S. science teachers (100 +) with yeast as a genetic organism, and Wisconsin Fastplants as a secondary study topic. those are cabbages (half dozen species) that bloom in 3 weeks and have seeds in 6-8. So you can do 3 generations/ school year. There are lots of science fair projects done starting at middle school level and it doesn’t require a hort or ag class to do them. I’ve had a few nat’l and Int’l winners do research of various sorts in my lab, such as finding out what is the inhibitor in osage orange that prevents germination of pennycress, or what is the effect of a certain chemical in antifreeze on growth of some plant.

A good kind of intriguing study would be the requirement for stratification. What happens if you keep half the seeds dry til planting, or at room temp instead of frig etc.

Space tomatoes were a big deal a few years back when they were sent out into space. Lots of learning, no actual effects. But with roses you’d almost certainly have flowers under lights in 6 weks from most of the minis. And for some I know they will repeat bloom again within 3 wk.

Most every state has an association of biology teachers, affiliated with the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT, which published American Biology Teacher). The ag instructors have their national assn too and still run FFA in many states.

I’d say this has to be a Am Rose Soc activity with perhaps seed provided by RHA. Though for ease of use the RHA website is so much better that maybe it is preferred.

Hang out a web page with Science Fair Project Idea in the title and see who bites. I did a search for Frank C. Buckley, roses, and came back with David Z’s reply to my question about germination studies. (And that’s about all). So GOOGLE searches pretty deep. I get several web inquiries a year about my research from H.S. students, often doing science papers or fair projects. I always respond and sometimes they reply back a few times.

I will add in a section of suggested future inquiries to my review of germination. That would make for lots of science inquiry projects if we could supply a bucket of seed.

Paul, I think it’s a very good idea! Although rose seedlings might be a bit touchy starting out, within months many will be coming into bloom and definitely catching the attention of the students! Any such inclined pupils might soon be attempting their very first rose crosses!

I think it’s an excellent concept taking them well beyond simply sprouting beans!


Paul, this is a great idea! Kids love to see things grow, and sometimes the wait only increases the anticipation.

We home schooled our kids (two still in it), and will co-op some of the topics with other families. Of course, I gave a genetics lesson using roses (and blood!) as examples. For the experiment side of things, we tested blood for type and Rh, and then I let each of the kids choose a pollen (“red”, “yellow”, or “pink”) to make their own rose crosses. I had already emasculated and prepared blooms, but they applied pollen along with a tag that included their names. Later the hips were picked, the seeds planted and seedlings were presented back to the kids. One of the seedlings was quite nice, I still have a copy of it in my front yard.

One of our office secretaries had a daugther that was doing a science project. She compared various methods of controlling powdery mildew on mini roses. I supplied her with the plants. She had a great time.

Paul, what you are doing and suggesting is something that RHA should join. Kids are naturally intrigued by what is inside seeds. My eight year old daughter loves seeds and likes planting everything.

Jim Sproul

I’ll just add my two cents here that I think it is a great idea as well. Rose breeding is certainly not too complex for high schoolers – I started making crosses when I was 15 16, and was only 17 or 18 when I wrote an article on polyplody for the “Next Step” booklet here. Treat kids with the respect they deserve, and they’ll surprise you… and you’ll have a huge impact on their live. I can say that if I hadn’t found this forum and the garden web forums as a teen, I probably would be majoring in English right now. Instead, I’m about to graduate with a degree in horticulture, have worked in plant breeding programs here at my university, and interned for a plant breeder in Japan – all really thanks to people like you on forums like this treated my ideas and teen-aged attempts at breeding with respect and interest.

Joseph Tychonievich

Indeed, Joseph. When I was 15 I was flasking my own orchid hybrids in a home-made flasking case on the kitchen table! And that was over 30 years ago. Kids are more sophisticated now.


I read this with enthusiasm but have waited and hesitated to reply.

First of all, I think it an excellent idea. My own experience as a child was that many adults did not encourage me in my gardening pursuits. I remember a neighbor who use to give african violet leaves to her woman friends though never thought to give me any even though I always commented on her plants when in her house. She wasn’t mean; I guess she didn’t think that young people like to garden. How many young people are out there who only need a little encouragement.

We did beans in 2nd grade; not that I don’t think it wouldn’t be a new experience for many high school students considering how we have distanced ourselves from the natural world but I do think starting a rose from a seed would be a much more memorable experience.

I personally feel this should be started slowly as a grass roots kind of project. I don’t see why it couldn’t be done in biology classes as well; after all, fertilization, germination, photosynthesis, genetics, could be brought into this and I believe these topics are still covered in high school biology.

I don’t know what the ARS does for youth. Though I am a member, the only time I have seen a picture or a reference to a young person is when they exhibited a rose at a rose exhibition and won a prize. Frankly, I don’t think involving the ARS at this point would be helpful and probably a detriment. I doubt many of the directors and people responsible for policy have been seriously involved with hybridizing and raising roses from seed. My impression is that the ARS is going through some difficult times right now and I don’t think would be in a suitable position to get this thing off the ground. Later, when the kinks have been worked out and procedures that work have been established, then maybe coordinating this with the ARS would be advantageous (certainly give it more exposure) to both organizations and most importantly to the youth.

Someone mentioned what happens in June when school closes. Well, in 3rd grade we had goldfish in the classroom. The teacher asked who would take care of them over the summer and I volunteered and got to take them home. Brought my little red wagon to school, we took out most of the water and I wheeled them home (about 2 blocks away). Come September I reversed the process and brought them back to the teacher.

THE TEACHER! If a teacher really wants to do this, the difficulties will be overcome, and to paraphrase Ralph Moore’s famous phrase " the teacher will find a way" as was done with summering the goldfish. Therefore, I suggest these connections be made directly with teachers. Having taught, I know that nothing could be more deadening than to have some school administrator with his eye on PR come and tell a teacher that we “ought” to do this. Most classroom teachers are already greatlyl overburdened and to have this placed before them as a must do would defeat the purpose because it won’t work. If the initiative comes from the teacher than it WILL be successful and the difficulties will be ironed out.

I think it a geat idea.