Compact Shrubbiness - suggestions wanted

Hi All,

I know we’ve been through this before, but I thought I’d ask again.

One of my breeding goals is a compact, shrubby habit. I would like to cross species roses such as R. virginiana with moderns to achieve very hardy, low-growing landscape roses. It seems like I need more dwarf, shrubby roses to use. I’d like to start with something that has a little bit of hardiness, if possible.

For me, White Out has nearly the perfect habit for a landscape rose and it has above average hardiness for a bloom machine. Unfortunately the seeds don’t seem to germinate well (going by something Jim Sproul said here), so it needs to be used as a pollen parent. I will continue to do so.

I’ve been using Orange Honey and All A’Twitter some, and they create dwarf roses, but it’s pretty much random chance that I’ve chosen those two. All A’Twitter is such a good seed-setter that I’ve ended up with tons of seedlings. However, it is not necessarily hardy at all or disease resistant. Also I’ve used Petit Pink a bit as a pollen parent.

Any suggestions for roses that can impart a low growing, shrubby habit? I think I need to get Duchesse de Montebello, for one. I saw a low-growing rugosa on a center berm in Minneapolis that might work. Also some of the Moore miniatures…do I need to get 1-72-1?

Anyone growing in a colder climate that can suggest their favorite low growing, shrubby roses or miniatures?

Of the Canadian roses, I have used Frontenac because it has good disease resistance, better than average hardiness and because of its smaller more compact shape than most of the other hardy roses. It doesn’t set seed well so I’ve only used it as the pollen parent. It passes on those traits well to its offspring, though sometimes the seedlings can have a more lax growth habit. I have moved on to working with a couple of its seedlings now.

Petite Pink will set seed and I have grown OP seedlings from it. I have an OP seedling of it that is hardier and has a better more rounded shape to it but its flowers aren’t as nice. Also Julie has done crosses with it as the seed parent.

I tried growing Orange Honey twice and both times it died from winter kill even though it was buried under 8” of dirt. The two minis I have now are Roxy and Chipotle, both survived this past winter well with protection. I only tried one pollen on each of them last year with very few of the pollinations taking, but they were pretty wide crosses and that may have had some bearing on that. I plan on trying more crosses with them in the future.

R. chinensis minima pollen kept Fru Dagmar Hastrup seedlings under 24".

Ruby Vigorosa aka Rotilia has a very low, Flower Carpet style habit and sets a lot of fertile seed. Don’t know how winter hardy it is.


Hi joe, I share your concerns. When you consider that new home construction leaves very room for a front garden.
I’ve attempted to meet this challenge by crossing miniature roses with some of the explorer roses.
I have about 500 seedlings of this type waiting to be planted out ASAP. I’ll take your advice and get them in early and
plant them deeper.

Royal Edward may be what you are looking for.

Two modern floribundas that are compact, produce a lot of flowers, and set a lot of seeds for me are Moondance and Monkey Business.

This past winter, the entire Moondance plant survived the weeks of arctic blasts. Monkey Business did not fare as well, but one branch survived to grow on.

Central NJ, zone 7a

Jamie must be a dwarf even though in warm climates it says 1 m height. Mine has 3 or 4 winters, little die back and has never gotten above 1 foot. Might be a rugosa hybrid with Therese Bugnet according to “finder” on helpmefind.I like the large bloom and it’s modern form relative to the small plant … a bit weird but works for me.

White Out does fine germinating here for me. I think it was in the first article I did on germination and nitrate. Perhaps the one after that. I dug round and found my original notes- 60-75 % with different sources of nitrate. So, pretty good. It is not a super seed-setter growing out with pink KO unattended but watered on campus. Average seeds per hip is 3-4. I may have been the one who misled you because the first year it was planted here it didn’t seem to set hips. It seems to have gotten better with maturity. I’ve noticed that with Rainbow KO, and the other KOs. Ones that are pruned every year give essentially 0 seed-set OP. Left unpruned, considerably better. I’ve gotten germination from WO hips left late, and even over winter (50 % on hips harvested Feb 20, 2014 after below 0 in Dec/Jan.

You might be better off using pollen if your plants suffer from natural pruning in winter.

I would second Royal Edward. It easily sets seed, germination rates are good, it seems to produce blooms with good petal counts, passes on resistance, is low growing, and hardy to zone 3b. The two things I don’t like about it is the color and bloom form but as I indicated, it can help produce blossoms with very nice blooms. It can also produce colors other than pink and when combined with the right parents, can produce miniatures and smaller stature shrubs.

I’m also trying Petit Pink as a seed parent this season. I’m hoping it will be another bridge to hardier roses that I have collected. Royal Edward seems to be a good good one to start with.

I’m not sure of their hardiness, but my favorite parents for compact shrubbiness are Souv. de Francois Gaulain and Clotilde Soupert. SDFG is a repeating, magenta tea/gallica with near perfect health here, which is rare. Clotilde Soupert is a light pink polyantha with too many petals to open well in cool areas. It’s easy to decrease the number of petals of course. SDFG is easiest to use as a male, CS as a female.

Thanks for all the replies! Some intriguing suggestions that I will look into.

There is another strategy that some here eventually follow: use a bred for purpose sort of polyantha parent.

Sort of polyantha is recurrent dwarf synstilae species derived. Quite easy to get from diploid species and easy and snell to select as size is from regular polyanthas to micro mini and time to maturity the shortest.

Some you may know are ready frost resistance selected. There are some excellent plant architecture.

Tiny flower parts and few seeds by hip are no problem. Let bees do the crosses: many are self sterile.

Abundance of small flowers is better than gapping cover from larger flowers.


A couple of suggstions.

  1. Use the relatively dwarf Rugosa ‘Waskasoo’ in a breeding program. It may have Rosa nitida in its pedigree, which would account for the dwarfing characteristic of the shrub. I’m obtaining this cultivar later this summer, and I’ll see if I can eventually get a propagule to you.

  2. Self ‘Aylsham’. Again, because of Rosa nitida in its parentage it may segregate to dwarf seedlings. Percy Wright wrote about obtaining a dwarf selection from his ‘Hansa’ x Rosa nitida breeding program. This is the parentage, of course, of ‘Aylsham’.

I fully recognize the importance of such a breeding program you would like to develop. I’m starting from scratch. First crossing Rosa wichurana with Rosa nitida and then perhaps later incorporating Rosa maximowicziana. Hopefully, Rosa wichurana will provide disease resistance and Rosa maximowicziana a more shrubby growth habit in this breeding line.

Thanks again for the responses.


I have some of the Northern Accents series roses, Ole, Lena, and Sven, which seem to be polyanthas that have some added hardiness. The problem with collecting seed is that I have all of them growing close together so that even if they are self-sterile most of the crosses will not be with what I want to cross them with.

So I’ve tried using them as pollen parents. David Z had mentioned some sort of incompatibility that arises when crossing polyanthas with rugosas, and indeed this spring I had several seedlings each of Ann Endt x Petit Pink and Ann Endt x Candy Oh (a polyantha). The seedlings with Candy Oh withered and died at a young age, although they all had looked healthy at first. The seedlings with Petit Pink grew on well. I fully intend to keep trying, however.


Thanks also for your suggestion. I don’t have an Alysham. That and Wakasoo sound interesting. I, too, am working with R. nitida, though I maybe I should focus on it more. I think I have a few nitida x Grouse, which is similar to your cross with wichurana. My R. nitida, while relatively upright, is dense and rounded and makes a lovely, thick, shrub.

Combining rugosa and other lines is not the short way.

“sort of incompatibility” is the right formulation.
Its many sides include low hybrid production, very low seedling fertility, stiff top branching stems, short lasting flowers and more that all are difficult to bred out…

Difficulty is that some steps along this way are so tiny you can miss them.

My tip (one actual strategy of mine by the way) is rather to parallel breed fertile lines that are aimed at being combined at the last moment only.

"The problem with collecting seed is that I have all of them growing close together so that even if they are self-sterile most of the crosses will not be with what I want to cross them with. "

Right! Many will be bee crosses with neighbours that with little work will let you go further, exploring latent diversity and combinability. Adding other cv/lines you can explore more diversity looking for your ultimate(s) goal(s).

Letting bees do crosses “outside the box” you will explore and learn a lot.
A transgressive breeder is the thing to encounter even without a pedigree.