First timer UK advice?

I am attempting for the first time some hybrids from my very small collection. I have read extensively on the process and feel like I’ve got relatively good parents to start with. They are all desease free, have lush dark and glossy foliage and beautiful flowers of wide and thick petals.

But… I’m nervous about hidden bad genes and creating something which will not fit the shared aim of all hybridisers, improving the overall stock.

Is there any key advice missing from manuals that people can offer?

My planned crosses for the first year are below. I am aware of some fertility issues, but I hope to make something new and different to start with as a ‘fresh start’ before actively trying to accentuate desirable traits over the years. This is very much a project for the love and not commercial interests.

Thanks for any help!
Diamond Jubilee X Persian Mystery
Persian Mystery X Royal Philharmonic
Royal Philharmonic X Carris
Diamond Jubilee X St Christopher
Stanwell Perpetual X Diamond Jubilee
Stanwell Perpetual X Persian Mystery
(All crosses made both ways. I realise quite ambitious for an amateur of limited means!)

Welcome, JHardi! Personally, I attempt, whenever possible, to avoid using parents with shared ancestry. Sometimes it can help isolate desired traits, but as any animal breeder knows, “recessives are forever”. Of course, there will be discussion about this and there are valid points to both sides, but that’s my personal habit. Otherwise, if what you’re using has resulted in roses which have performed well where you are and appear to possess traits you want to see in your results, make the crosses and raise the seedlings. If you fail to “improve the stock”, oh, well. There is always the next cross and the next season. “Improvement” can mean many things to many people. Joe Winchell felt improvement meant better exhibition blooms. Ralph Moore felt improvement meant greater cresting to his crested seedlings; better Hulthemia appearance to his Halo series; wider color range and better stability to his stripes; and better health, ease and quantity of flowering and easier propagation to his minis and other types. Even if you raise a rose which is absolutely perfect where you are, it is guaranteed not to be so perfect elsewhere. If you’re lucky, you might raise one which is improved over others in many areas, but every success fails somewhere. Don’t let that stop your forward progress! There are bad genes in every rose, just as there are in every animal and every human and sometimes, they are going to come rushing forward. You will see many of them in your seed beds and most of the worst will never seen life past your seed area. You just MIGHT luck out and raise something really better than what you see around you and that should be the hope, the drive, the excitement pushing the next cross and the next seedling. So what if a bad trait shows up? Other than time (which you loved spending), what has it “cost” you? The journey is very often much more satisfying, much more enjoyable than the destination. Good luck!

Thank you. I have much to learn, and the idea of a shared ancestry is one of which does not seem to be stressed in the general literature. So to be clear, if in the first year one crossed A X B and A X C it would be wise to avoid (AXB) X (AXC) in the next year? Rather cross (A x B) X C? Of course thats even if one can be certain where A, B and C were derived from in the first place!

There is also some talk of inbreeding F1 seedlings from a cross to try and bring out certain more recessive traits, but is this best avoided too?

One thing I have learned is that on the whole writers on the subject are so generous wit their time and knowledge. Thanks again for such a usefull and inspiring reply.

If you are not familiar with Help Me Find (roses) (type it into your search engine) , it would serve you well to make its’ acquaintance, and there is a membership you can buy (very reasonable and at the same time priceless) that will allow you to look up lineages of roses, as far as they are known, as well as make comments and post photos. Also a lot of info on species. You have the right idea as far as relatedness goes, and it is very similar as with animals, humans, and all complex beings. Do not cross closely related roses, although along with bringing out bad recessive genes, you also might bring out ‘good’ or desirable recessive genes. There has been a lot of interbreeding and backcrossing already, so checking out Help Me Find (HMF) will help immensely in avoiding unintentional relatedness. Good luck, your choices to start with sound interesting.

You have some very nice roses already (St. Christopher is a good one), and many good varieties are available in England. To breed some short climbers I recommend Summer Wine (Kordes) for health and vigor, and the Aloha variety that David Austin used. I’ve used Lilian Austin, which came from the Aloha strain. I also recommend Rosemary Harkness, a Hybrid Tea. This March I planted David Austin’s new Young Lycidas, a very fragrant old rose hybrid, and it’s blooming prolifically already.

In the summer 2014 Rose Hybridizer Newsletter, Jim Sproul, the director, wrote an article, “Delightful Darlow’s Enigma.” It is a hybrid musk of unknown parentage, discovered by Heirloom Nursery in Oregon. It has single white flowers and a sweet fragrance. It has good reblooming, dark foliage, 10 ft x 10 ft bush, disease resistant, almost thornless and evergreen in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Pollen would solve the problem of getting a bush through customs and save space from having a bush of Darlow’s Enigma in your yard.

It all depends on what you’re aiming for as far as size of bloom and plant. We’re all aiming for disease resistance, vigor and fragrance.

If you are doing it for love, you are already on the right track!
“I’m nervous about hidden bad genes and creating something which will not fit the shared aim of all hybridisers, improving the overall stock”"
Be likewise excited at the prospect of digging up hidden good genes. 99.9+% of your seedlings probably won’t be improvements on either parent, but that’s a big part of the game. Theory is a small part of it, and luck is a huge chunk of it all, IMO. For every rose introduced, there are probably 10’s of thousands of seedlings rejected.

Welcome JHardie, if I may ask what part of the UK are you in ?

Thanks all. Such helpful advice! I will look into John Jel’s suggested roses when we’re back into bare root season. Having something relatively compact is good for me. Until I have my own house my roses are potted so I can easily move them.

Davi Mears, I am in the Newcastle upon Tyne area. I have a garden which is very exposed to the elements and the winds can get very high! I struggle to get most things to grow, but the selection I have listed seem to be doing very well.

I had a look at helpmefind but there was very limite information to non members. I may give it another look later today.

Hi JHardi, thanks for the info on where you live, My idea was if you had been close to nursery that breeds roses you can or could get some info from them which might suit your climate/area, also pick up on some of the breeding techniques to help you on your way.
Regards David.

P.S. as for this bit from your post “I had a look at helpmefind but there was very limited information to non members. I may give it another look later today.” A small sum of around I think $24 or maybe 18 pounds you get total access to the whole site.

My advice for a first time breeder is:

This first year, focus on learning the process from initial pollinization to germinating the seeds, not so much on the fine points of genetics.
In my experience, reading about the process is not the same as doing the process…

Keep records on EVERYTHING! Label your crosses, track which ones produced hips and which did not. Which hips survived to harvest.
Track number of seeds per cross and germination rates of each cross.
See what quality of seedlings this year’s crosses produced.
Look up your current roses’ track records as parents in Help Me Find.
This information will greatly help you to plan next year’s breeding program, and what new roses to buy for your collection.

Best of success!

Central NJ, zone 7a

David, Thank you, I’ll look into that.

Cathy, thanks, that’s pretty much the plan! I have a table drawn up and ready to go which will record every detail from pollination date to number of viable offspring with everything in between. I hope to learn a lot in the first year, and along the way (as I get more to play with!) I’m sure the path will start to become clearer.

All best,

I agree with Cathy. What good does it do you to plan and accomplish wonderful crosses if you can’t DO them properly and aren’t able to raise the seeds? I advise people to watch what sets self hips in your garden without your intervention to determine what makes good seed parents from what you already grow. Practice germinating those self set seed to learn the finer details required by where you are and what you grow. Once you have that down, pollinate everything in sight! Have fun and good luck!

Is there any key advice missing from manuals that people can offer

Pony up the freight for HMF and set up camp there.

the idea of a shared ancestry is one of which does not seem to be stressed in the general literature.

Join the RHA and avail yourself of the literature that comes (as downloads) with your member account. The modern rose descendency chart will get you started in that regard.

You might save this thread to a diary. If you stick with this sport then it will make amusing reading down the road.

Hi Don,

I’m sorry, but I don’t know what HMF is. It makes me think of the Navy? Could you elaborate?

I am a member of RHA and have the handbooks but cannot find the list of lineage you talk of. Could you possibly provide a reference?


I guess ‘hardimentjake’ is the same person as ‘JHardie’, if not I apologize

Yes! I’m sorry, I seem to have somehow registered twice without realising!

There are some papers available in your membership area

but apparently this was not one of them

It would be a good idea for you to read the parent article to this chart as well since you are concerned with ‘shared ancestry’ (by which I think you mean introgression).

“HMF” is short for, the website mentioned above. As others have mentioned, it is well worth the small membership fee to support such an altruistic project and to gain access to the lineage tree and descendant lists.

I can’t imagine the number of hours that the anonymous creators have put into that site, and even if our membership fees go straight into their pockets (which they probably don’t) it would compensate for the only tiniest fraction of their time.

I have paid for premium membership for Help Me Find now, but it offers no information on the ancestory of any if the roses currently in my collection. The ancestry chart posted here is very interesting, although again, mostly for future work as it doesnt seem to fit in with what I have here. Thank you all again. Before I become overwhelmed withh information I will step back to Cathy’s advice and just take this year to take in the process. And pop back to this very useful forum when i’m ready fir more!

Stanwell Perpetual is an interesting and maybe a bit mysterious rose. And as a potential parent it is challenging. You can find the various posts re. SP on this forum through a Google search using this string: stanwell perpetual

And you can use that same formula to search the forum for other varieties you may be interested in–in the search string just substitute for Stanwell Perpetual the name of whatever variety you’re interested in.

Aside from the RHA forum, an excellent source of information may be found under the References and Member Comments tabs on’s pages for rose varieties.

And if you are interested in Clematis or Peony, HelpMeFind can help you there too.