Brand new to rose breeding, what to begin with?

Hi, I’m both a new rose grower and interested in rose breeding for fun. I’ve bought the “For Beginner’s” and “The Next Step” pamphlets, and am reading through those, as well as through this forum for more information. I love the look of deeply cupped old garden and english roses with lots of petals, so that style would be my eventual goal, although I know I have to learn to walk before running. I really dislike single form flowers, and would want to avoid those. I am not sure which roses to begin with though, I have found a few mentioned on this forum that I think can set fertile hips, though I don’t know for the most part what results they tend to give. (A lot of photos on the forum are no longer visible?) I think I have gathered that trying to breed directly from roses with lots of petals often doesn’t work out well, because they are not fertile, am I correct in my understanding of that? I am trying to understand petal count though, if you can’t breed from very doubled roses, how are they achieved? I have read here in the forum that Jude the Obscure can set hips, but often has single offspring, so I am a bit confused as to how to choose good parents for the flower form I am wanting. If I wanted to avoid single flowers for the most part, what out of what I have would you suggest starting with?

I have available to me to play with:

Oso Easy Double Red (Cherry Bonica)
Julia Child
Monsieur Tillier
Ebb Tide
Jude the Obscure
Hope for Humanity
Climbing America
At Last
Pearly Gates
Brilliant Veranda
Alnwick Rose
Jubilee Celebration
Carding Mill
Hot Cocoa
White Licorice
Queen of Sweden
Sceptere’d Isle
Wollerton Old Hall
Guirelande d’Amour
Cloud 10
Earth Angel
Easy Does It
Prairie Joy
Carefree Beauty
Alfred Sisley
Cardinal Hume
Benjamin Britten
Bliss Parfuma
Kiss Me Kate
Coffee Bean
Koko Loko
Lady of Shalott
Munstead Wood
New Dawn
Sweet Mademoiselle
Fragrant Cloud

I hope this is not too much for a complete beginner to ask for, thanks for any help you can offer!

Easy Does It, Hot Cocoa, and Ebb Tide are good seed parents. With Ebb Tide, be sure to cross with downy resistant roses for successes. With Hot Cocoa, try avoid crossing it to overly double roses. It promotes a petal proliferation if you do. With Easy Does It, if you do not desire singles, be sure the pollen parent has 4 double grandparents. There is no guarantee, but I hope this helps you gets started some.

If you are new to breeding, try to do small sample crossings each year to test out new seed parent viability and germination success. It’s annoying, but the beneficial byproduct is that you get a rough idea of general outcomes.

Thank you, that’s very helpful! I had to look up proliferation, that’s good to know about too. Is Helpmefind the best source for rose lineage? I am not subscribed at the moment, but I may need to. I am especially curious about the fertility of oso easy double red and Earth Angel, because I like the very cupped/globe bloom form. Do you happen to know if they are sterile, or if they could be pollen parents? Is there a way to know if a rose is likely to be sterile other than just attempting a cross? Sorry if I am asking stupid questions, I have tried to search the forum but the search function filters out so much I am having trouble finding specific information.

OE Double Red is pollen fertile. I never tried it for seed.

HMF is the best source. It’s a living model that is constantly added to by the community.

Sterility is a complex topic, so its best to just try and see in most cases. Triploidy can mean fully seed fertile, low seed fertility, or sterile. There is no way to know which it may be without trying. And, of course, there are other factors but thats not important right now.

Welcome! It would help if you could tell everyone the location you are gardening in. Fertility in a particular rose can also vary from location to location. We have members scattered all over, so maybe someone close to you could provide more specific information for that location.


Ah, sorry! I should have known zone would be important. I’m in Arkansas, zone 7. Thank you for the welcome! I will definitely have to sign up on HMF when I can manage it then. And thanks for the info on Double Red!

I grew Jude the Obscure 20 or so years ago when I lived in zone 7 Alabama. It was willing to set hips and produce seeds, and its pollen produced seeds, but germination for me was almost nonexistent. I don’t recall ever raising a seedling from JTO. I loved the rose, so it was very frustrating. As you noted, others here have raised seedlings from it, so it performs better as a parent in some locations. Prairie Joy has been discussed quite a bit here. If you’ll type Prairie Joy in the search function at the top right of the page you’ll be able to see those threads. Same for a great many others on your list.


A result from Monsieur Tillier by one of our members: 'Licorice Tea' Rose


Olivia, Lady of Shallot, Julia Child, and Munstead Wood have all worked well for pollen parents for me. None of these has worked for seed parent, although I believe Julia Child can I just didn’t attempt it again. It is possible, however, that your climate may prove different for them as seed parents than mine has, so may be worth at least testing. But these should help produce what you are looking for.
Lady of Shallot seedlings do not all bloom right away, some can, but many of mine have waited to second or third year, but they may depend on white they are combined with.
Olivia Rose Austin has produced some amazing results from pollen, and she has much to offer.
For seed I have had success from Claire Austin (highly recommend), Mary Rose, and Lilian Austin. There are other seed parents that will produce higher germination percentage, but these have produced roses for me that fit in the direction you are looking to go.
I have read others have had success using the following as seed parent, although I don’t know germination percentage or how many seedlings were noteable: Benjamin Britten, Carding Mill, Windermere, and Jude the Obscure.
Wollerton Old Hall set hips but seeds have yet to germinate, hopefully soon, but don’t know.

I would recommend considering other characteristics you would like to have regarding the plant also: disease resistance, growth type, frequency of repeat, etc. as you may have to look in different directions for the characteristics you desire, or look for plants that require more than one. Also, is fragrance one of your goals, along with petal count?

Paul Barden said that Abraham Darby as a pollen parent tends to give higher petal counts. I can attest to that as well.
Have fun!!!

The Monsieur Tillier cross is pretty, and while maybe not my end goal I’d be absolutely thrilled to get a rose like that! I am sure my first attempts will go nowhere, but I am hoping I will get a feel for things as I go. I have searched several of my rose names, and I did find the information Prairie Joy, thanks! I did not find a lot on flower shape in particular though, though I did find information on color, health and possible partners. I would like to know more about “At Last” if anyone’s used it, that was one I couldn’t search for due to the filtering. (Is there a way to search for a quote instead if individual words? quotation marks didn’t help.) I have decided to focus on health and shape first, scent, repeat and particular colors would be nice of course but are a bit less important to me. I don’t think I have room to grow out many climbers, but I am not too particular on other types of growth shape yet. I’m sure I’ll want to focus on all those things later, but since I’m only really doing this for fun and any resulting rose would be for myself, I want to work on the qualities I notice in a rose first. I did read about a few of the older Austin’s being good parents, but they seem very hard to get. I looked everywhere for an Abraham Darby, but I couldn’t find one (for a price I could pay anyhow, I think heirloom roses had one earlier in the year but it was $60, which is a bit much for me at current). Is there a better way to get hold of some of the older types than Googling for nurseries that carry them?

Doing some more searching I see Oso Easy Italian Ice mentioned as a good hip setter with some health, what petal form does it tend to produce?

Sometimes just using google search can be easier.

eg put this into google
“At Last”

the quoted being is what you’re looking for and the is just saying to only look there.

Either way though, doesn’t seem like anyone’s posted about that rose.

Abraham Darby was available from David Austin roses this year. (Cheaper than Heirloom). I don’t know if it will be every year or not, but could be worth checking.
Perhaps I could dry pollen to send to you from mine once it is established enough to bloom well.
A few pictures from seedlings from Claire Austin as seed parent.
20CAxCS02 09.jpg
20CAxCS02 11.jpg

Thank you for the tip about Google search, I’ll give that a try!

I was under the impression Abraham Darby was older, but you’re right, it does look like it was just recently discontinued. I seem to be just a tad too late beginning rose growing for a few of the Austins I wanted, it wasn’t available this year, and I couldn’t get Evelyn either. I feel pretty lucky to have found a Jude the Obscure, since that one is gone too. Thank you for the offer of pollen! I should probably get some practice under my belt before trying that, but I do appreciate it. I have yet to ever pollinate my first rose at this point, but I do want to make sure my first attempts aren’t doomed to failure by using infertile parents to start, hence this post. All of the Claire Austin seedlings there are lovely, but that last one is divine!

I grew ‘At Last’ when it was new. Floppy mess here in NW Oregon. Personally, I didn’t see anything of value from it, but perceptions always differ.

I had higher hopes for it. Like a healthier ‘Bonica’ in apricot. But that was not the case.

Thanks for your opinion on At Last, I like it myself in my own garden, but I might be partial because it was the first rose I ordered. It did get some blackspot, which I was also disappointed in since I had hoped it would be as healthy as Knock Out, It hasn’t been too bad so far though.

My first rose was a body bag of ‘Goldilocks’. My Master Gardener friend I made when I was a teenager had a half dozen ‘Playboy’ for exhibiting so I got a floribunda too. Imagine my 14 year old surprise in regard to the world of difference in floribundas. Big oooof. My 2nd rose was ‘American Honor’, which had about the best HT plant architecture I had ever seen.

While you certainly want to study pedigrees on hmf to get a dense of the possibilities of a prospective parent, don’t take it too seriously. Results of successful newer cultivars may not be reported on the one hand, and parents that are reported might appear particularly successful as a function of the number of attempts rather than the relative benefits of their use it as a parent.
Breeding houses might work numbers games, but that may not be the best strategy for an amateur breeder. (With minimal effort, I can probably count on over 300 viable OP germinations from a single mature Carefree Beauty – a wonderful breeder, imho – but I lack room to play the numbers game, and expecting as I do that the vast majority to be uninspired and odorless pale pink, I may not bother. I may opt, for instance, to instead try for more difficult or unusual crosses…)
There may also be regional variations in what works well in various climates. (I have much more trouble with some pollens here in Central Texas than I seem to recall having had on the wet Gulf Coast.)
Fully double roses for me do not often set OP hips – my bees opt for the more easily accessible pollens – so this might not be a decent measure for you, but I would encourage you in your first year to collect and germinate as much as you can from each plant simply to evaluate the relative cooperativeness of it as a parent. Over time your goals will likely evolve, and really start to gel.
BTW, I really like Alfred Sisley and have found it a very willing breeder. My Earth Angel hips have generally aborted for me thought my plant is still fairly young for a Kordes. If a rose is a stubborn Mama, try her pollen on a proven mother to test viability that way.
(In the end, it really is still a huge numbers game, but hopefully you are in for the game and recognize that “winning” is in the journey, and not a real end goal in this endeavor.)


Just for example. Madame Anisette doesn’t set OP hips but if I dab my finger in pollen and dig around in the bloom, hips tend to set. This is often true with some of the newer kordes…just so many petals they never open up enough for bee’s to bother.

One of the best uses of lineage queries on HMF is noting if the rose in question was used more often for seed or pollen. This may help one save time.