Autumn foliage

Before class this morning I was sitting on my balacony admiring the trees gently blowing in the wind all dressed up in their autumn splender. It was relaxing. I know off roses with colorful hips. But it seems like all the roses I have seen have autumn leaves that are eiter pale green, brown or a sickly yellow. Not to mention the huge amount that have powdery mildew this time of year. I was just wondering what roses have colorful foliage in autumn, and if they pass this trait along to their offspring.

Rosa virginiana


My spinosissima hybrids like Beauty of Leafland look great in the fall. Nice red leaves.

I think William Baffin looks nice in the fall.

r. nitida can have nice fall foliage. I think some of its hybrids have nice foliage. Metis perhaps?

Metis can be totally spectacular in fall. Colors are gradational from deep green through orange yellow to red. Right now I can’t remember if the youngest or oldest leaves change color first, but it’s a great color show.

Therese Bugnut and a number of rugosa hybrids have good color.

My found “Caldwell Pink” rose (Pink Pet??) has near glaucous foliage in summer which turns bronze in autumn. Which is odd since I’m zone 9-ish… I don’t believe CP is fertile, though it is darned healthy.

The gallica, La Belle Sultane, has beautiful autumn foliage, green,red, yellow blends like the colors of a maple tree. Was surprised the first time I saw it. Has been doing this for several years now (Virginia Zn7).


Here on the Canadian prairie, the specie roses are in their autumn glory … red, orange, yellow and purple blends … truly beautiful!


I really like the sound of some of these plants. I will have to try them in the future. I wish to bred truely all around landscape plants or good garden plants. I love hybrid tea flowers. But overal I hate the way the plant looks. They are to upright and they tend to look weird with other plants. I also think foliage color is good to consider. I am amazed by the shining plastic like foliage of some roses but I think they look artifical in a landscape. I am really interested in adding varigation, colorful foliage like that of glauca, and autumn foliage. Maybe I can add all three but that certainly a breeding program that will take time. Especially varigation. If roses follow other plants then varigation will be a hard one to bred for.

First of all lack of vigor will make most seedlings worthless. Secound of all even when you cross to varigated types the percent of offspring to have varigation is low. Third of all alot of varigated plants seedlings tend to have no clorophyl at all thus these seedlings die. Plus alot of variegated plants tend not to past on their varigation because they are a chimera and only certain layers of their tissue is mutated, so you need a plant that is genetically able to pass it on.

I was thinking that once I have a seedling that survives with varegation. Even if it was weak. Which shouldn’t be too hard since most plants when you grow enough seedlings you will find one eventually especially with plants of higher ploidy. It just getting them to survive that is the trick. I would make one line using some species rose that grows like a weed (ploidy may be a problem here). And at the same time make another line using R. glauca with a varigated seedling. I can see the R. glauca line being week but it can then be crossed to the first line. Maybe after some backcrosses I can add autumn color.

Another problem that is likely to arise is that these may be very wide crosses. Maybe roses are like some other types of plants and I should cross the two species first then cross with the hybrid. I don’t know I will just have to experiment. I was thinking for the first species R. roxburgii, R. banksiae or maybe R. filipes.

Those are just my thoughts. The way I figure it this could very well take most of my lifetime. Any suggestions I would be willing to listen.

Adam, some of the modern roses also have very nice fall foliage. I have found that many seedlings of ‘Midnight Blue’ have good fall foliage (seedling below, colors were actually brighter than the photo shows).

Variegated does show up reasonably frequently if you grow lots of seedlings, but you are right, that there are some problems with it. I watched this seedling for awhile. In the greenhouse it did okay, but the lighter foliage tended to burn in the sun.

Roses are great plants to work with because they offer such an incredible range of variations in traits.

Jim Sproul

In your experience does varigated foliage tend to burn in the sun. I really like he redish crimson foliage of the first.

Yes, the foliage does tend to burn. The plant above was quite vigorous despite having variegated foliage, but was discarded due to the burning of the foliage.

If you could get that foliage with a nice waxy type foliage perhaps it would hold up better.

Jim Sproul

I don’t know if waxy foliage would work, but it can not hurt to try. The other day I read about some hybrid tea rose that gives a large percentage (30%) of totally albino seedlings lacking clorophyl. I wish I could remeber the name of it off the top of my head but the name excapes me. But anyways I thought it was abnormal for a plant that shows no varigation itself. I do know this is a problem that is common when you cross two plants with varigated foliage in alot of other plants. And I have seen these white seedlings here and their growing different plants. Sometimes they develope chlorophyl but more often than not they die.

It isn’t a hybrid tea, but The Gift has a high percentage of chlorotic (albino) open-pollinated seedlings. The cholotic seedlings all died shortly after they germinated. I got a variegated seedling from The Gift about 5 years ago that was pretty nice. After a couple of years, it sported a branch with normal chlorophyll, and that branch was so much more vigorous than the variegated branches that it has taken over nearly the whole bush.