Congratulations to Jim Turner ! and a question

Dear Jim,

Congratulations on the printing of your super article, “The Great Debate” on page 32 of the September American Rose Magazine ! What a great history, breakdown and presentation of theories. Naturally anything that well done will bring up questions. I too am greatly interested in strong fragrance and Fragrant Cloud will be used as a parent next year. I have stopped deadheading to see which roses set seed well and have noticed that FC never has a hip. I have 2 plants which bloom profusely, but no bee-fertilized hips. I have used the pollen without success, but that could be due to many factors. Any hints on using FC as a parent? Thanks, Linda

I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Linda. I enjoyed writing it. This was written for my local society newsletter and the statistics were intended more to stimulate people’s imagination than to prove sex-linked inheritance in roses, although I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before concrete proof is found.

Fragrant Cloud seems to be a finnicky parent. Sometimes it seems very fertile, other times it seems almost sterile. I’ve had it set hips and produce seedlings with some very unlikely pollen, but abort hips from much more fertile pollen. There have been times when I’ve pollinated several flowers at the same stage on FC at the same time with the same pollen and all but one hip will abort, but that hip will have many seeds in it, and the seeds will germinate well. I only had one hip set on two plants of FC this year. I wish I knew how to make it happy.

The pollen hasn’t been the most fertile either. I seem to have better luck with the pollen when I let the flower mature more than I would other varieties, to the point where it is starting to release pollen.

Thank you, Jim. Now I understand that I will have to learn patience and perseverance. If I should serendipitously stumble across anything that helps I will pass it on. Many thanks. A very stimulating article. Linda

Linda, I have had the same experience with Fragrant Cloud. I’ve only gotten one hip to even begin to swell, and that one fell off early. No open pollinated hips either. Tough one for me too.

I used Fragrant Cloud as a seed parent for 3 or 4 years in the late 1970s. It’s tough as a seed parent and even tougher as a pollen parent (very few roses have been registered with FC as the pollen parent). I felt pretty good about it if I got 2 hips from 10 pollinations on it. Yet I’ve heard that it sets seed readily under the right conditions. Apparently the right conditions are available only or mostly in a greenhouse, as those who who seem to have had the most success with it have made their crosses in a greenhouse. I had similar success (or lack of success) with crosses on Tropicana (which I suspect to be related to it). Anyway, don’t feel bad if you’ve had problems with Fragrant Cloud. Lots of other hybridizers have had the same luck.

It’s good to see that it’s not just me. I’ve had some difficulties with ‘Fragrant Cloud’. Similar to Jim’s experiences, I’ve gotten offspring using ‘Fragrant Cloud’ as the seed parent and Rosa carolina as the pollen. But, I might add, this only happened one season and only 2 out of five attempted hips set seed. I haven’t been able to repeat this cross, and for that matter, many other theoretically more easy crosses onto ‘Fragrant Cloud’. I haven’t tried out Peter’s greenhouse method, but I think it’s definitely worth a try. Good luck to you. Tom

I remember an old article in RHA saying once that someone had better success with Fragrant Cloud as a seed parent if it was on its own roots. Hmmm I’m sure glad it was a successful female parent in the creation of Folklore, one of my favorite hybrid teas!


What makes it particularly frustrating is that other hybridizers have had great success with it. It is listed as the seed parent of 80 varieties in MR XI under its English name and its German name (Duftwolke). Its seedlings include Folklore, America, Alec’s Red, and Just Joey. One of my FCs is outdoors, the other is in the greenhouse. Neither sets hips well. Neither of them is on its own roots, so perhaps I’ll try that.

All mine aborted this year as well. FC was the seed parent with Rabble Rouser, Freedom, Midas Touch and Mix & Match as pollen parents.

I’ve never had it set a hips under any conditions either. I wonder what the secret is?

I just remembered that, one year, I had pretty good seed set on ‘Fragrant Cloud’ by using pollen from Rosa gallica (Apothecary’s Rose). The seedlings were mostly disease prone (blackspot and mildew) and I don’t think any have flowered; they may not even be alive anymore. Although I did have them planted in a pretty tough situation – fending for themselves (other than being mowed around occassionally).

I also have gotten seed by using pollen from an old garden rose, that I think is ‘Banshee’. These seedlings were much healthier, but being subjected to even worse neglect, haven’t flowered and may be deceased now.

I guess my point is, the old garden types seem to have been relatively fertile pollens on ‘Fragrant Cloud’ for me.

A few years ago at the RHA meeting at one of the national conventions, Joseph Winchel spoke and insisted that Fragrant Cloud will set seeds much more easily if it is on its own roots. He’s of course had great success with it, so he ought to know. But as a person with a reasonably scientific mind (despite the fact that I’m writing my dissertation for a Ph.D. in literature–at a liesurely pace, of course, since my hobbies rule my life), I’m left wondering how it could make any difference.

I did notice, however, that of my two Fragrant Clouds, both on Dr. Huey but from different wholesale growers, one would set hips more readily than the other, so perhaps there are several clones floating around with different propensities for accepting pollen. But even with my good bush, I still only get a 20% take rate if I’m lucky. Actually, three of my favorite parents, Fragrant Cloud, Dolly Parton, and Olympiad, are all shy with seed set for me, and it is frustrating since they seem to be such great parents for everyone else. Therefore, I definitely feel better after reading this thread!

One thing I have found is that they work much better for me if I emasculate them and leave them covered for up to two days before I spread pollen, and sometimes I even spread pollen several times over three days or so. Also, they do set very fertile seeds, which is some consolation. My records aren’t here in my Atlanta apartment so I don’t have germination figures for Fragrant Cloud, but I do remember getting 30 or so seedlings from a single hip of Dolly Parton crossed with Prince Camille de Rohan back in 1997 (and a couple of them are deep red stunners and fertile, too).

Here is a seedling of Fragrant Cloud X Mons. Tillier. It has fragrant flowers and good health. I’ve had several other good seedlings from diploid pollen on FC.

I hope that you don’t mind my bringing this back to the top. I read the thread with interest in the recent RHA newsletter and thought that I would put in my 2 cents.

My experience with FC has also been very disappointing using it as a seed parent. It has been a bit better for me as a pollen parent.

I had heard from Mr. Winchel that own-root FC was better at producing hips. So, of course I tried it. I have never seen a hip on my own-root FC.

I have tended to think as Robert Burns mentioned above, that the diffences seen, probably represent different clones of FC that may be available commercially. The variation in hip setting among roses of the same variety has intrigued me for a long time. I have noted in the rose fields of Wasco, CA, that you can follow along by a row of roses of a particular variety that doesn’t seem to set hips very well, and then all of a sudden, there is a single plant with more hips on that one plant than on the last 20 or 30 plants in the row.

Mr. Moore has shared his observation that roses that have sported to climbers tend to have much greater hip fertility than the original cultivar. It is easy for me to imagine that a very subtle mutation could also result in higher hip fertility.

Jim Sproul

Some have tried starving the plant or keeping it on the edge of water stress as a way of making the difficult parent set seeds. Don Nielson and others wrote of these tactics in issues of the Newsletter back in the mid-1970s.

Sometimes that one plant that sets more seed may have a little problem with its graft–just enough of a defect in the graft or its root system to slow down the vegetative growth and encourage the setting of seeds. In the 2 years when I used FC as a seed parent, I was able to get seeds occasionally on the plant that was grafted on Dr. Huey–but never on the one grafted on multiflora. The one on multiflora had been more recently planted and was growing more vigorously, while the one on Dr. Huey had been in the same place (and without significant fertilizer) for 3 years–so maybe it was not the rootstock as much as it was the general vigor of the plant.

And then there are just some parents that are difficult. Like people that can never be satisfied, they seem to pass the characteristic along to their children. I’ve tried all sorts of tactics to get Dolly Parton (what Joe originally called “Fantastic Fragrance”–and it’s a child of FC) to set seeds–but without success.

Is there some sort of vitamin that would encourage fertility in these plants? Must be. When I visited Joe Winchel in Shreveport he had a bush of Fantastic Fragrance loaded with enormous hips. Do you suppose it was just a good year for him? Or did it have something to do with the stuff he mixed into the soil? He had so much stuff in the soil that it practically carried him from one plant to the next.