Breeding for Autumn Color

I was wondering whether anyone had messed about with trying to breed roses with an eye towards good autumn color (e.g. with R. Virginiana or Scots roses). I think this would be an interesting thing to pursue, but wasn’t sure how consistently this trait passed along.

Intersting you should bring this up. One of my Basyes Amphidiploid F 2 seedlings has blazing orange and red Fall foliage. I can send out some pollen if you are interested.



That would be lovely - I will e-mail you my address. I’m still a beginner, but hopefully I won’t flub it completely!



Henry’s Blend has purple-ish fall color. It looks kinda smoldering. It also has purple-ish red winter branches.

I have seen beautiful autumn color on my gallica (hybrid?) La Belle Sultane in the autumn,variations of orange and red amidst the green.


This is another reason I LOVE ‘Scabrosa’… its autumn dress is a blazing yellow/gold… it’s just beautiful and I hope all the crosses I did with it this year carry this trait on with them. My bourbon, ‘Vivid’, also develops lovely orange autumn (not all over though… just a few leaves… the rest are still green and are persisting on the plant in early winter with no signs of dropping)… it set a single OP hip this year so maybe it could be used as a seed parent if a more deliberate effort was made on it. I’ve picked it and am testing how it germinates.

Metis is the rose that I admire in fall. It (in my growing conditions) has colors that move up the bushes, starting at the base and moving up…so it can have three colors (none of them green) at once.

It was done by Bert Harp at Morden Manitoba so some cold hardiness is literally in its genes.

Ah - another five or six roses to try to squeeze into the garden! Thank you for the rose suggestions. La Belle Sultane was already high on my list of roses to get as soon as I have more space.

Simon, I would be interested to hear how your Scabrosa crosses come out.

I’ll hope that some of the autumn color comes through in the crosses I do with the pollen that Paul was kind enough to give me.

Hello Annaka,

Rugosa itself usually has a pretty yellow color in the Fall here in Maryland. Many of its hybrids (with other species roses) also have yellow/orange/red fall colors.

Best of luck with your crosses. I look forward to hearing more about them.


I second the suggestion of Rugosas, specifically ‘Scabrosa’, my favorite. Its Fall coloring is lovely.

Beware of ‘La Belle Sultane’ in breeding: it has a nasty habit of breeding offspring that have badly incurved petals that often give the appearance of a flower that never opens properly. It doesn’t always happen, but often enough to make hard culling necessary. Frankly, I’d use ‘Tuscany Superb’ instead.


PS: I have got a heap of dried pollen ready to mail out to you in the morning, Annaka.


Thanks for the information - I admit that I was wondering about La Belle Sultane’s potential - it is so beautiful! Sigh. I appreciate your sharing your experience.

Thanks again for the pollen. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Annaka, I have noticed that quite a few of the seedlings coming out of ‘Midnight Blue’ show good Fall color.

Jim Sproul

The explorer roses William Baffin and John Cabot both display good fall color. Plus they pass on good disease resistance. What is the point of having good fall color if the plant is defoliated from disease?

I also really like Knockout’s fall color. It does not show bright colors, but the leaves turn deep burgundy and the leaves hold on to the bush much longer than most roses.