I know that I have read,in a past thread, that the optimum time to harvest hips for best germination is 110 to 120 days. I can’t remember if there was any valid rationale for the harvest at this time. With Mother Nature, the hips may stay a lot longer before they fall from the bush. I had a few hips that I left on the bush for 150 days and germination is quite slow. I went through the normal stratification process, but still not much in the germination picture. Now the $64 question - is there anything in the natural order of things that says that we should harvest in the time frame given above? I have heard from other hybridizers that germination this year has been lousy - is seed germination on some sort of a lunar cycle or (LOL) a conspiracy aganst hybridizers who have been defiying nature and making crosses!!!

I’ve wondered about this too, John. I’ve been told to harvest when the hips are just starting to turn color or have good color, but on one test I did last year on one variety, I got germinations only from hips that had been wrinkled and overripe - a situation most say is the wrong time to harvest.

Hi John:

The roses just keep one step ahead of us!

I have certainly seen some varieties germinate better from newly ripened hips as compared to “over-rippened” hips, but I suspect that it is varietal dependent. Rose hips are fruit and just like other fruiting plants (apples and peaches) there are early ripening varieties and late ones. Some varieties probably do not concentrate as much inhibitors in the hips. In those varieties, the degree of ripeness may not be a factor… Just some thoughts…

Jim Sproul

While the ripeness of the hip is certainly important, seeds must be stratified and properly prepared for germination. There are all sorts of recipes and research on the subject. I suggest sorting “floaters” and “sinkers”.

Some of my rose seeds have taken two years to germinate!


Thanks Judith, Jim and Ron for your comments. I appreciate them. There were no floaters in this group of seeds, and the cold stratification period was 6 weeks. I have had some seeds from some of my previous crosses take two plus years to germinate, so I am not giving up on these yet. But as you say Jim, “Some varieties probably do not concentrate as much inhibitors in the hips.” This may account for the lateness in germination. Time will tell - I can be patient as these are some crosses that I have really been anticipating some good offspring!

My best germinator this past year was Fabulous! and I kept records. Since the hips were from someone elses’ garden, I had to estimate on open pollination date, but since May is too hot for successful pollination here generally, that was pretty easy to estimate. Pollination was likely from April 15 - May 1. I picked the hips on 9/15, therefore the likely ripening time was from 138-153 days. Most hips were firm with good color. I soaked seeds in Bromelain for 2 days, and then H2O2 for 1 day. I stratified (didn’t keep the time on that, but I usually do it for 8 weeks) and germination began with a bang at almost 12 weeks.

Judith - sure seems like the germination is variety dependent, doesn’t it. I too have had seeds from previous crosses that were in the hip longer then normal and germination was good.

It does seem so, John, although perhaps my germination rate would have been even better had the hips been on the bush for only 110 days. One will never know.

So far, I’ve been hesitant to pick too early and tend to err on the later side generally. I doubt that that is a good idea, but I always fear picking them before they are mature enough. Just my lack of experience showing.

On my visit to Wilhelm Kordes II in 1971, he told me that seeds from yellow parents may take two years to germinate. But ! It’s not the rule !

On some of my tests I confirmed this.

9 seeds from a certain cross gave just one germination in the first year. In the second year 6 more germinated.

On some crosses the same happened when only the pollen parent was yellow.

Last year I had a bumber crop of germinations such that this year I knew that I would not have sufficient room for another large crop. So I gave away almost all of my open pollinated seeds this season. I also did not soak this years seeds in an enzyme solution. I did keep most of what was left from last year. The results are given in the following link: