Breeder of Roses

At what point is a person considered a breeder of roses. After uploading a few seedling pictures to HMF it suddenly seems more serious with a good part of the world able to see what you have. It also amazes me when roses are listed without a single picture to go with it. Neil

That’s understandable when you consider someone may not be able to afford a camera. What irritates the heck out of me is when they are listed without parentage, particularly when it is known, but the decision was made not to divulge it. Personally, if you don’t want to tell, don’t list the rose. If it’s unknown, that’s one thing, but there are a number there where the lineage is well known, but the choice has been made not to list it. Kim

It’s like what are the odds someone can replicate that rose with the same parents? Pretty slim. I’m looking at David Austin for that one…

After a certain amount of lead time what would it matter, unless there’s some practice I don’t understand.

Some of these big outfits have 1/4mil. seedlings/year. With 800 members in the local rose society and only a handfull of hybridizers you can see what they concentrait on along with the cut flower industry.

At least two other people are now starting to grow by seed here after seeing it’s possible to have your very own exclusive rose. The more the merrier and the easier the better. Neil

Deliberately withholding information offends me because I WANT to see what created the rose. What traits are visible in the offspring? What is behind what is assaulting my eyes in the image? If it’s Ballerina, The Fairy or Playboy, I will categorize it in the “probably NOT for me, here” file and keep it on the fringes while I collect experiences and information before final judgement. Once you’ve seen example after example of characteristics you do, or don’t like, from parents, it’s fairly easy to determine if that is something you want to bother with, but you can’t know, can’t make the determination if someone deliberately prevents you from knowing.

I’ve come to the point that if there aren’t listed ancestors, I may look at the picture, but that’s as far as it goes. My interest drops off and I move on to the next rose. There is no way I’m going to be able to replicate your seedling knowing your breeders. To me, more than half the interest I have in your creation is knowing your creative process behind it, what you chose to get to where you went. Without that information, yes, it might be a pretty flower, but, so what? Understanding you found something about what you used interesting, then were able to use your skills and creativity to mine what you obtained from those gene sets is what “does it” for me. Keep your information secret and I’m liable just not to find it interesting. Kim

As I wrote in my article in The Next Step, I had heard that the odds were better winning the lottery than obtaining the identical seedling from the same parental cross. So, if that tidbit were true – if you couldn’t produce the same rose from the same cross, what difference would it make if the parentage were known? I get frustrated as well when I see the ‘seedling’ x ‘seedling’ parentage. Knowing the parentage gives me. at least, some clue as to some characteristics of the offspring. My 2 cents worth!

I don’t want to sound like an apologist for the pedigree obscurantists, but I can see how some of it happens. Roses are not race horses, or show dogs where there’s money, or honor, to be made out of their use as stud or mother. But they aren’t wheat or barley that goes through rounds of mass selection, either. They are somewhere in between.

So a lot of what gets produced may have some interesting traits, with potential for use in further crosses, but not enough to waste a good name on them. So they get a code number or nickname which wouldn’t mean much in a patent. Hence the seedling x seedling designation.

And it’s a lot of work to keep a label on everything unless you’re better organized than I am. Or the interesting seedling was produced with mixed pollen so we aren’t completely sure of the parent.

For instance, I gave up on trying to keep all my yellow mini pollens separate in crosses with New Dawn and just used whatever I happened to have on hand. It has such a low frequency of takes that I got tired of making hundreds of labels with maybe 10 different designations. So now I have at least two fairly interesting seedlings that are ND x ymin. I could list the likely pollen donors, but don’t really know which one did the job.

As someone who sometimes thinks like a barley breeder, my few objectives are to get a fertile, yellow, reblooming, disease-resistant, easy to propagate, winter-hardy shrub type. It took a lot of seedlings to get that far. Having done that, I am using it as a female parent to a range of pollen donors to improve the architecture, and rebloom frequency, while keeping the other traits. So really I am just introgressing a yellow color, and better fertility into a ND type.

With the strong linkage disequilibrium seen in species roses and their offspring, it isn’t like bloodlines in race horses or show animals. I expect that some good DNA studies will soon show how skewed things are in some classic pedigrees such as that of Soliel d’Or.

Hi Neil,

Regarding your question, I think one becomes a breeder of roses when they have successful crosses. When I first started dabbling with crossing roses all of them failed during the first two years. I still planted OP seeds, which allowed me the opportunity to get a handle on successfully raising seedlings to the blooming stage. Later, when I had some crosses that made it, I felt that I had crossed over and became a breeder of roses. It felt good. It sounds like you are helping others to take up rose breeding - that’s great!

Jim Sproul

I would agree with Jim Sproul but I also think if you grow nothing but op seeds but do make selections this also counts but maybe it would be in more the grey area. Between just growing roses from seed and breeding.

I would be alright with not listing pedigrees if after so many years they would release them. I understand if you find a good parent that no one else is using. But after ten or fifteen years I would hope you have moved on (unless you breed for J&P).

Larry - In keeping parentage data, I was thinking about the typical amateur who probably makes 50 or so crosses, and not those that have seeds measured by the gallons!

I recall at one RHA meeting some years ago, when Tom Carruth was our guest speaker, someone asked about releasing parentage data, which he does, and he said that when a rose is released for sale he had been messing with it for 10 years since he made the cross! That includes trials, etc. So he said he was not hiding anything, and that you probably would not get the same result if you used the same parents. He does keep some good records for sure! Kordes was a big hybridizer that for many years did not release any data - not sure what they do now.

As someone who plays on HMF and loves entering linage information when I can find it, I hope you don’t mind if I add a couple of comments to this thread.

Disclosing the linage of a seedling is providing information and based upon something Jack Harkness wrote many decades ago, if another breeder were to make the same cross, there is the probability of over 250 million outcomes, so replicating the rose is not a given.

Also, I would love it if the breeders posting their seedlings to HMF would go back in and add a BREEDER’S NOTE when the plant was culled and why. It could be as simple as: “This seedling is just another pink rose” or “This is not what I was looking for from this cross”. Or it might be more specific: “Not a vigorous plant” or “Does not repeat well” or any other reason for the cull. Once again, this provides information. A seedling and photo, even if the linage were disclosed, for a plant that has been culled, is just a listing of a cross.

As for the cross being [unknown x unknown], I don’t mind seeing that kind of information on HMF. Even listing the seedling by your personal ID # is fine, but it’s wonderful to have the linage information added because that seedling may be a part of the linage of another rose and this would make the parentage tree more complete on HMF.

Please note, these are my personal views and not the official policy of HMF.



It does make the information more complete. You may find commercially available roses bred from something, but then run across one of our seedlings bred by something totally different, giving completely different results. Whether the rose has been ‘bred past’ or not, being able to SEE what it has resulted in, helps develop a feel for what it might be able to do. When researching a rose or a line of breeding, it’s useful to see trends, disease resistance, or lack of it; colors; flower shapes and petal counts, etc. It adds greatly to the interest of the site, even if it’s just being able to see someone is using a century old HT and coming up with new and improved things (or not) from it. Kim

if another breeder were to make the same cross, there is the probability of over 250 million outcomes, so replicating the rose is not a given.

I keep hearing this but Ralph Moore is often cited as saying that it takes about 100 seedlings from any given cross to know what you can expect.

One HMF feature that would be good for breeders is to be able to easily compare photos of different roses from the same cross. I document all my seedlings with photos, even those that I discard, so I can look at them side by side for any given cross. It’s a PIA but well worth doing.

Don, Ralph felt he could pretty well tell what characteristics he could mine from a cross by raising that many self seedlings of the rose. Not that they would all be identical but he had the feel for what the rose would produce. If he sought red and the thing never resulted in pastels, he would select something else to mine red from. That’s different from the 250 million outcomes.

I know there are going to be bazillians of “seedling X seedling” or “unknown” attributions as there will always be lost tags or lack of records, but when it is known and not recorded, I avoid the rose. Kim


You can’t compare all of the photos from a given cross the way I am going to explain below, but you can compare a few at one time.

In method 1: You need to have your browser set up to show the rose pages in multiple windows.

You would open one rose page and then right click on the SEARCH button and open another rose page in a new window. The you can resize the windows so that you can see the rose pages from two roses at the same time. You can even open more windows with the right click and have more than two roses displayed at the same time.

In method 2: If you are using a browser like FireFox, you hide the side bar to give you more viewing space and go to HMF and open a rose page. Resize FF and then open it again. Then open another rose page after you have removed the sidebar. (Opening FF two or more times and resizing it is the only way to view more than one rose at a time.)

At that point you can see several roses.

The easy way to find roses with the same cross is to use the ADAVANCED SEARCH feature, click on LINAGE and then enter the cross. The SEARCH results will show all roses with that cross. When the SEARCH results come up, you can just right click on the rose name and a select to open in a new window or a new tab.

Breeders make up a small population of the site users on HMF and many of them do not even bother support the site with a premium-membership, so unless it’s an easy fix, suggestions like these do get on the enhancement list, but sometimes take a while before they are addressed.

Go ahead and make a suggestion on HMF. I have found that when requests such as these come from a site user on HMF, it is more effective than when it is passed along through me.

As for Mr. Moore’s wisdom, he certainly knew more about the breeding of roses than I do and I’d still love to see the lineages of the seedlings posted to HMF, simply because it’s interesting.



Im soooooo crossing Playboy x Ballerina, lol.

There’s another reason NOT to list the parents… from a marketing POV. The more I breed roses the more I am convinced that whilst the chances are stacked against us it is possible to get something good from most crosses… eventually. But people are judgemental and are quick to condemn anything that shows a certain rose in its pedigree (like ‘Ballerina’ for instance :wink: ). If I use a rose that has earned universal ‘dud’ status (like ‘Julia’s Rose’ for example) and I get somethng good (let’s say I cross it with ‘Immensee’ and got a cool coffee coloured wich-shrub that was healthy… put on your rose-coloured glasses and I know you can see it too :wink: ) and I publish the parentage then people are going to write it off without even giving it a chance. This is despite the fact that like anyone else I might test for years and like every other seedling here it is given the opportunity to fail but it has, for whatever reason, decided not to take this opportunity and has defied the odds to go on to be a little champ. The axe falls swiftly and easily around here and I might be just looking for an exscuse to put it out of its misery. On one hand I would be stoked to be able to say ‘SEE!!! Look what I got out of this dog’ but on the other hand I might also say be wary of telling people for fear of the gavel coming down on it without a fair trial… so-to-speak. As I am now I would not worry about it cos I’m smaller than small time. If I had large sums of money tied up in it I might be less open about it. I’m no different I suppose… every time I see a rose with ‘Rhapsody n Blue’ in it I roll my eyes and say to myself ‘I don’t think so…’

I will go back into exile now…

Rhapsody in Blue is an excellent example, Simon. From seeing it at a friend’s house and the photos on HMF, I adore it. However, when it gets hot, it refuses to flower here as do most of its offspring. I would be FAR more likely to actually purchase something bred from Julia’s Rose than Rhapsody in Blue because I know Julia’ Rose will BLOOM here in triple digit heat and will also be healthy. Something which can’t be said about Rhapsody in Blue.

But, even if it is possible to eventually get something good out of most roses, very, very few are going to replicate the cross and raise the tons of seedlings required to obtain that possibility. Recently, someone posted photos of a coffee colored shrub on HMF, raised from Florence Delattre and Cafe. While I would have looked at the flower photos then moved on, since there was a stated parentage, I hung around and browsed every tab about it because I found it interesting. I’ve always been attracted to the look of Florence Delattre, but reports of its performance in these parts have kept me from growing it. It impresses me as what I’d expect Leander X Sterling Silver to look like.

Oh, before you cross Playboy with Ballerina, be sure to cross each with The Fairy before crossing their offspring together, then selfing the thorniest. Kim


One way to become a breeder of roses is to apply for a rose breeding job. Here’s one for Nova Flora:

It’s soft money but there aren’t very many rose breeding jobs out there.

Around here it’s not that easy to get 100 seedlings op from a plant. The second step for me is to cross for a definate change, like a select red HT on a hardy pastel or pollen from a multi color on a good germinator with vigor. When possible I just tag the branch and pollonate all the flowers.

Ironic that Rhapsody in Blue was picked as the best from about eight similar full size plants and had the best health, far out shinning Blue Nile, Heirloom and others. I’m still going to use the pollen next year on Crimson Glory. Neil