Colors in Striped Roses

Hi everyone, this is my first time posting here, I always wanted to do this too, but never could muster up enough courage. Anyway here I am, I have been breeding roses for about 4 years now and have become very interested in striped roses and all of the many varied colors. And since many of you are well known rose breeders I would like to ask if you have a certain technique in getting specific colors in striped roses. I have a color combination that I would like to achieve in a striped rose and I don’t know if trying to get certain colors for striped roses was just a possibility that may or may not happen. I hope my question is not too out of the ordinary. Thank you for any advice you can offer.



It would be useful to know what color combination you are hoping for. :slight_smile: One of us can then tailor the answer for your specific goals.



If I’m not mistaken, striping, in any flower, is a developmental switch process, like in maize seed coat colors. I don’t think there is a gene for striping as such. There are developmental timing controls on color genes that result in striping expression.

So if you have a petal that is naturally a blend of two colors, you could get stripes with both colors combined, and stripes of only one color as the ground color. For instance if both red and yellow pigments are present giving a brilliant red/orange then you might see red on yellow as the stripe effect. Austrian Copper/Austrian Yellow is a common example of that switching process, thought it doesn’t give neat stripes.

If the control process is switching off one enzyme in the color pathway, say for red, you might have red and white, because white roses generally contain precursors of the red pigment. I think yellow and white may be hard to manage. White is not precursor to yellow, so you would have to have a switch in the yellow pigment path. I don’t know of an example of that. Not that there could not be, but I don’t recall any.

Petunias are probably the best studied color system in flowers. I just saw a new book on the topic two weeks ago at our library. Some of the turning on and off depends on micro-RNA molecules and other kinds of interfering RNA processes. How it happens is beginning to be fairly well understood in petunias. We have a very long way to go in roses.

Practically speaking, I’d follow Paul’s lead. See what colors are out there and check whether one sort of like you want already exists. Then you might improve it or combine it with another stripe.

Hi, Jeanie, welcome to the forum!

I don’t have an answer for you, I’m afraid, but this leads me to something I’ve been wondering about for a while: is there only one type (genetically speaking) of striping in roses, or are there two?

It seems to me that there might be something fundamentally different about the stripes of, say, Rosa Mundi, Cee Dee Moss and such, with very clear, “neat” stripes, and George Burns and Purple Tiger, which have a more ragged type of stripe with lots of dots. Anyone else looked into this?

Hi Fa,

Not sure how ‘Rosa Mundi’ fits into things, but all of the modern striped roses got their striping genes from the same source: ‘Ferdinand Pichard’, through Ralph Moore’s hybrids. It was Ralph’s preliminary work with ‘Ferdinand Pichard’ that made our modern stripes possible. Most breeders use either ‘Stars ‘N’ Stripes’ or ‘Pinstripe’ to get the gene. I prefer working with ‘Pinstripe’ because the resulting seedlings tend to be more shapely. Isn’t it about time you started working on stripes, Fa?? Hint, hint. :wink:


A rose that is stripey AND spotty !!!

Hello everyone, thanks for the warm welcome and your replies.

Paul I was interested in several different color combinations but the one I would like to attain is a yellow with white stripes or vice versa. Also a tan/brown with a red stripe would be nice. These are just some ideas I have going around in my head and I wanted to know if there were a specific technique to it.

Larry thank you so much for the thorough explanation, although I have to admit I am not too familiar with all the technical terms that you use for I’m just someone who takes pollen and applies it to whatever rose is available at the time. But I am starting to have the desire to learn more about colors and how they are acquired. Since I would like to get a yellow with white stripes I wonder if you could explain what mean when you stated, “White is not precursor to yellow, so you would have to have a switch in the yellow pigment path”.

I pretty much thought it was a little like mixing paint. If you want orange you mix red and yellow. If you wanted say pink you would mix white and red. I know that is a little lame but if you think about it, perhaps this is why we don’t have a blue rose. You cannot have blue if you don’t have a pure green rose and you can’t have a green rose without a blue rose. Same with a pure black.

Fara, hi! Yes I have noticed exactly what you are speaking of. And along with that, if you look at a striped rose carefully you have to wonder if the striping is really the striping or is it the solid color of the rose itself. For example look at Scentimental, does this rose have white stripes on a red rose or red stripes on a white rose? Very perplexing I’d say…


Basically stripes occur when there is a breakdown in pigmenting. So when you have red stripes with white, what you are seeing is a breakdown of the red pigmenting which reveals the white base color beneath the red. White, as Larry said, has the precursors to red, making this combination possible. The striping combinations we currently have in roses includes red on white, red on pink, pink on white, red on yellow, dark orange on yellow (could be argued that this is a variation of red on yellow), purple on white, and purple on pink.

“White is not precursor to yellow”. This would make yellow stripes on white very difficult, if not impossible. There are no roses with this combination that I know of. As for the brown and red striping combo, something like that might be possible, but tan is a difficult color to achieve on its own, let along as a stripe. Keep in mind that striping is the disruption of one pigment in a rose and generally white, pink or yellow are the only other colors we have seen as secondary underlying base colors. The likelihood is that these are the base colors you are going to be limited to, but who knows?

I would suggest trying the Moore hybrid ‘Love and Peace’ (2007) which is a red stripe on a kind of lavender base color. This might provide a key to new combinations we haven’t seen before. If I were to approach this problem, I’d try putting pollen from ‘Love and Peace’ onto ‘Hot Cocoa’ or ‘Brown Velvet’, and vice versa and see what happens. (If you can’t get ‘Love and Peace’, then ‘Pinstripe’ would be the next best thing)



Thanks Paul, I will try your example, I just now need to try and find a Love and Peace and Hot Cocoa/Brown Velvet. I will be getting a Stephen Rulo next month and if there is enough time for it to mature this season I am going to try different striped pollens on it just to see what I will get.

Tawny Tiger has terracotta stripes. I haven’t tried it as a parent yet, so I don’t know if it is fertile. It’s not really disease resistant in my garden. It’s only 1 or 2 years old now, so maybe it will improve over time.



Work on stripes?! I haven’t even figured out how spotting works yet :smiley: but hmmm… that brown on yellow combination is intriguing… I wonder… Oh well, the SVRS is now all keen to learn rose hybridising after the talk last Monday, so… hmmm…! Maman Ichiko x Oranges ‘n’ Lemons, or Maman Ichiko x Life Lines… hmmm…

I was browsing round with google today and found a useful article by Ralph Moore, from the 1985 Rose Annual pg 10-17 on striped roses. Search striped roses, Moore 1985 annual and it should come up from the Sequoia nursery website 2007. Anyway, he said that striping in most of the old roses was caused by viruses and high temperatures cure it. But the pedigree of Stars and Stripes, introduced 1976, is a true genetic mutation effect.

What I meant about white not being precursor to yellow is simple. Yellow color comes from a pathway related to vitamin A production which can give different shades of yellow to almost orange. But red, pink and purple come from a different pathway that makes the antioxidants so popular in blueberries, cherries, apples, plums, grapes. Petunias have basically the same things.

If you block the yellow pathway you don’t get white, you get colorless. But if you block the path to the various reds and pinks, you usually get an intermediate antioxidant that absorbs UV light, making a very pale yellowish effect that is basically white. There could be blocks in that path too that made colorless, but no one wants see-through petals. So those roses have been thrown away.

There was a good article in the last RHA newsletter by Don Holeman on the different colors, with striking illustrations.

Below is a link to the Moore article on striping.

One thing I would take issue with is his statement that striping in most roses is caused by a virus and that ‘Ferdinand Pichard’ is perhaps the first and only case of genetic striping. I doubt that.

He states: " On the other hand, many of the old striped or variegated roses, including all (or nearly all) the striped gallicas, are striped because of certain rose viruses. This should not seem unusual, as the striped tulips and nearly all the striped camellias are also caused by virus. Evidence of the viral origin of the old gallicas and certain other striped roses came about when some of these varieties were given heat treatment to eliminate certain other suspected viruses. Young plants were grown in a changer under high intensity fluorescent lights and kept at 100 degrees fahrenheit for several weeks to rid the plants of any viral disease. After such treatment, the virus-free plants had lost their stripes! Thus the striping was not an inheritable genetic trait."

Ralph never disclosed his source for this information and I have not found any papers to support this theory. Most references found simply quote Ralph’s writings.

Consider this: heat treatment to remove viruses supposedly also eliminates striping in old cultivars. How then do we explain the fact that ‘Rosa Mundi’ regularly sports back to R. gallica officinalis, the stripeless pink Gallica? I can’t imagine that some parts of the plant suddenly clean themselves up! I have frequently seen my own ‘Rosa Mundi’ revert back to R. gallica officinalis. Reverted parts of the plant appear to be stable solid-colored plants after that. This throws a wrench into the virus theory, in my opinion.

If there is documentation to support Ralph’s statements about virus removal, I’d sure like to find it. Anyone see any documentation anywhere?


I don’t want to get technical and speculate at the same time- but why not. In 1985 no one had heard of RNAi and its many variants like miRNA, etc. Nor were we aware that there are lots of other epigenetic changes that come about by DNA methylation. etc. Some of them reset with every generation, some even carry through multiple generations.

Anyway, we have no clue what heating to a high temperature for many days will do to those changes. If it cures free-living viruses that depend on their own polymerases, it may also cure some of these other exotic epigenetic systems that depend on special polymerases, and methylation enzymes and demethylases. So the loss of striping might mean there were viruses being cured- that was the logical inference in 1985. But it might also mean that something else is going on. Epigenetic traits are genetically determined too, but in complicated ways requiring multiple genes to be in the right combinations.

Paul’s point about Rosa Mundi is a good one. The Moore article is not specific about which roses were cured of their stripes, maybe he meant Rosa Mundi, and maybe not.

So perhaps you could find a genetically heritable striping behavior in off-spring of Rosa Mundi, if you wanted a source other than Stars and Stripes pedigree. But who knows where S & S really earned its stripes.

Commandant Beaurepaire also transmits stripes.


So does ‘Honorine de Brabant’, now that I think of it.

I think those two plus Ferdinand Pichard are related. They do all share very odd arrow-like foliage.

If the striping was caused by a virus would one not expect that innoculation of a non-striped rose with an innoculant prepared from a non-striped rose would cause striping in that non-striped rose? Seems a little like basic Koch’s Postulates to me… maybe that’s over-simplifying it. Jim Sproul discusses a case where he suspected the transmission of a ‘striping virus’ from a striped plant to a neighbouring non-striped plant on his website.

Hmmm! This is all very interesting! I’ve often wondered if spotting is caused by a virus; many of my spotted roses have mottled leaves when young. Maybe I’ll try growing some cuttings and giving them the heat treatment, and see what happens.

As for transparent petals, I wouldn’t mind them! :smiley:

Whoops… typo… I meant “…innoculant prepared from a STRIPED rose would cause striping …”