Going Native

I note several breeders posting continue to use modern rose cultivars in their breeding programs. Which is fine if you want to dabble and just want to develop an attractive rose, but if you are serious where are you getting your disease resistance? Perhaps most of it can be found in Rosa kordesii hybrids or in cultivars with Rosa wichurana in the parentage or pedigree (I’m thinking particularly of the ground cover cultivars), but how many breeders are using these types of roses in their breeding programs? I doubt there is very many.

I bring this subject up, because I’m dismayed at the loss of disease resistance in several of the earlier Parkland rose cultivars. And this is growing them in the Northern Great Plains, the region they were bred for. No doubt they are usually a disaster in warmer and more humid climates of North America. Of course, Floribunda and Hybrid Tea cultivars are in their pedigrees and they are the culprits responsible for the disease problems (Yes, I know Rosa arkansana is suscceptible to rust, but except for ‘Assiniboine’ it is usually not a disease problem in the Parkland rose cultivars).

One of the solutions to develop disease resistant roses, I would think, is to “go native.” That is, using native species in one’s own region more in breeding programs. It seems there is not enough emphasis on doing this by breeders. This does not necessarily mean solely using species native to a particular region or combining them with species from another region. Especially in cold climate regions, I like the idea of combining them with species native to a similar climate on a different continent. As well, native species could be combined with simple rose types like Rugosas and Gallicas, which generally have very good disease resistance. At least in cold climates like the Northern Great Plains region.

Flower quality is sacrificed by using native species in a breeding program and keeping hybrids developed at a relatively simple level. However, there is too much emphasis anyway on flower quality and not enough on the form and other appealing characteristics of the shrub (I realize this is a hurdle most consumers may never get over). There is no point, of course, developing hybrids with great flower quality if the shrub is not disease resistant. This is what’s happened with several of the Parkland rose cultivars (In defense of them, they had relatively good disease resistance when introduced but it could be predicted problems would develop).

ironic, I just got Champlain a few months ago for breeding :slight_smile: I think it is prettier than some of the newer red hardy shrubs.

At any rate, I try to use as many species as possible. But space is at a premium here in Oregon. Land here is spendy!!! I had a horrible time with species this year. Sometimes it rains really bad when species bloom here (mid May, usually) and everything is lost during those prime 2 weeks. That happened this year cept for a few.

But beyond that, it is difficult to breed for here the extremes for places such as North Dakota or Arizona-- just like it would be hard for them to breed for things here (a temperate rainforest, afterall! lol).

btw, I think Meilland is producing some nice shrubs lately. Ive had good luck with Carefree Marvel so far. I have hips setting on White Drift as we speak. I bought Coral Drift (a Fairy and Red Max Graf hybrid)a month ago.

My biggest complaint on the modern shrub front is probably between Bailey’s cultivars (realllly bs prone, in general) and sometimes the Canadian hybrids. I fail to understand why either of them keep using modern roses into their mix that are not very healthy. For example, why use Orangeade 30-40 years later when newer, healthier hybrids of the same color class/cold hardiness have come along? I don’t understand why so much effort would be invested in using outdated material, lol.

At any rate, I have been thinking of registering the local clone of Rosa californica here. I think you guys would like it for breeding because it employs a unique combination of traits (etheral coloring, climbing habit, neat foliage, sparse thorns, probable tetraploidy). I am trying all sorts of random ideas on it, but like I said, I have little room to work with. The suckering habit needs to be fixed though :stuck_out_tongue: I think another positive trait to it is that the roots seem readily adaptable to many conditions. They’re very strong.

I bought Rosa rugosa ‘Scabrosa’ for this reason and have big plans for it with all kinds of things. On the other hand if more work was to be done on the inheretance patterns of disease resistance then more predicatble gains could be made using HT or cluster flowered roses with know better than normal resistance.

Next year i start with rosa ecae. I like the yellow and hope it gives me a lot of pleasure. In the fridge i have rosa rugosa and dagmar hastrup seeds. I think its fun to work with species and near relatives. In the future i hope i get my hands on rosa minutifolia but i think that will be impossible. Because of the rareness and i don’t know if it is in the EU anyway.

Next year i start with rosa ecae. I like the yellow and hope it gives me a lot of pleasure. In the fridge i have rosa rugosa and dagmar hastrup seeds. I think its fun to work with species and near relatives. In the future i hope i get my hands on rosa minutifolia but i think that will be impossible. Because of the rareness and i don’t know if it is in the EU anyway.

I cannot agree more Paul as it will be seen from my contribution to the Fall 2007 Issue of RHA Newsletter.

Paul, you definitely have a great point. I have been very disappointed with the lack of disease resistance that I have seen in several of the Parkland (Winnipeg Parks & Morden Fireglow) and Explorer (John Franklin, Henry Kelsey, JP Connell but we knew that one was a dog already) roses. For me William Baffin, Morden Sunrise, John Cabot, Simon Fraser, and A. MacKenzie have held up remarkably well. Lambert Closse and unfortunately Champlain are kind of iffy when it comes to disease resistance in my climate. They are being given to a neighbor next spring. So far the only disease symptoms on my Morden Sunrise occur in late Sept and I have felt that that has more to do with the leaves senescing.

Jadae also brings up a few good points. Space issues for some of us, although this is definitely an added bonus for using some of the newer ground cover roses. I thought that perhaps Arthur Bell was a hidden gem of disease resistance since it showed up in the pedigrees of so many explorer roses. Even though it has been around for quite a while, I ordered it this past winter and it is best described as a BS magnet. It is headed to the compost bin this fall.

A few months ago I promised myself that I was not even going to think about getting any additional roses next year - the space issue again. Well, right now I am thinking of a couple, somewhat along the lines of what Paul is suggesting. FRUHLINGSDUFT from Kordes is a hybrid Spinosissima. I do not know what the disease resistance is like, so any insights would be appreciated. STANWELL PERPETUAL from Lee is another hybrid Spinosissima that apparently tolerates shade and is disease resistant. And MORDEN CENTENNIAL a Parkland rose that has Assiniboine in it’s pedigree. My mom has this one and lets just say that if it can thrive under my mom’s care, it is definitely tough. It also scored quite high in the Montreal Botanical Garden’s disease rating.

For what it is worth, those are my 2 cents, Liz

Hi Liz,

Stanwell Perpetual is kind of a difficult parent. I have not seen it support a hip to maturity and it is difficult to get much pollen from it, but is possible. I raised some hybrids a number of years back. Morden Centennial is okay, but I don’t think it is superior for blackspot resistance in my climate at least. In fact I’ve been using it in some disease assays spraying it with different disease control products and purposefully infecting it with blackspot to see the effect of the different organic and non-organic products. I trust that some disease resistant offspring can be had with it as a parent in the right combination. Perhaps going back to its parent used to contribute disease resistance, ‘Prairie Princess’, would be another alternative. Both these roses are stingy rebloomers, PP more so than MC. Both seem to set hips easily, especially PP.

From my ratings of Frulingsduft at the MN landscape arboretum in the spring of 1999 it had about 60% live wood after winter and without cover and in 2001 about 20%. Without spray in late July/Early August 2000 it had about 50% of its leaflets infected with blackspot and in 2003 20%. That is more than most roses in the collection and spray was not used. I think it is a very nice rose that consistently lives and flowers well in the spring in the garden there and the flowers look nice. Hopefully it’ll be a good link to better roses as well.



Thanks David, that is good info to know about them. On my back up list of choices I do have PRAIRIE PRINCESS and also BONICA. Perhaps I should boot MC and Frulingsduft off of the list and replace them with PP and Bonica??

I have a very nice heavy flowering Morden Centennial open pollinated offspring (it is my number 244 - http://home.neo.rr.com/kuska/morden-centennial-seedling-number-244.htm ).

It does get some blackspot but not to the point of becoming a leafless bush.

Last year I crossed it with John Davis, William Baffin, and the Buck rose Folksinger. I also germinated some open pollinated seeds of #244. The first year flowers that formed can be viewed at:


Use your browsers find command with the word centennial to view these pictures.

Some of these seedlings have bloomed a number of times this summer.

Thanks Henry, based on your photos and description I might just have to order MC and give it a serious try. Any experience with Bonica or PP?

P.S. I love looking at seedling photos. By the way your seedling box that is in the 244 photo, how exactly do you use it? As a transition from the house to outdoors or to actually start from seed? It is very similar to my cold frame which is why it caught my eye.



My limited experience with growing roses has taught me that I can

Liz, I do not have Prairie Princess. I do have a number of crosses to an open pollinated seedling of Suzanne, but they have not yet flowered ((Suzanne X OP) X (Bonavista X OP), (Suzanne X OP) X mixed rugosa pollen, and (Suzanne X OP) X (( Therese Bugnet X OP) X OP).

I tried to grow Bonica plants several times, but I could not keep them alive. I suspect that they were all virused.

Concerning the outside seed box. The first year the seeds are germinated in a red light illuminated refrigerator. “Important” crosses are also placed in the refrigerator the second year (and sometimes even the third). After the first year, the other non germinated seeds are dumped into the outside seed box. From that point on if they germinate and are worth keeping, they are known as “unknown seedlings”.

For disease resistance I like New Dawn, White Dawn, Applejack, Hansa, Seafoam, Commander Gillette and Cuthbert Grant to name a few. I’ve got seedlings now of combinations of some of these and there is no sign of disease so far on the seedlings. It’s early but I’m hopeful.

I think you may have something there Paul regarding using Rosa kordesii hybrids or cultivars with Rosa wichurana in the parentage.

I’ve been using kordesii… years ago I gave livin easy X kordesii seeds to Jim, and I think he said that they had some disease problem. The flowers were gorgeous in the pics, anyways…

Right now, I have seedlings of kordesii X basye’s amphidiploid… and although it’s showing a lot of resistance, I couldn’t help but sigh at a leaf that has some mildew.

But to be fair,

It’s growing in the lawn and it’s being chocked by it too. It will do lots better in the future once it doesn’t have to compete for resources. I should be glad it has done this good on its own…


“I don’t have a problem using modern roses in a breeding program.”

That may be, but you will have a problem (unless you’re very lucky) developing disease resistant progeny. You’re not like professional rose breeders, who may have hundreds of seedlings of a cross and are able to develop disease resistant selections only because they use the lottery method of breeding. And when they do, the disease resistance of a newly developed cultivar often doesn’t last.

Yes, Griffith Buck and Agriculture Canada (Morden and Ottawa) used modern roses in their breeding programs. But as I previously mentioned, several of the Parkland cultivars have lost their disease resistance. And many of the Buck cultivars are not disease resistant in certain regions. To be fair, I am now thinking maybe its too much to expect cultivars having modern roses in their parentage or pedigree to be disease resistant for, say, more than 20 years. In that case, they shouldn’t be sold anymore but that’s not likely to happen.

“If you use just species roses then you will end up with plants that look like species.”

That is not true. First, wide crosses of species because of incompatability problems can produce flowers with extra petals. This is likely the way, along with sports, that double flowers were initially developed in roses. Secondly, sports of species having semi-double or double flowers can be used to develop progeny with semi-double or double flowers.

At the present time, yes, people prefer the appearance of modern roses. But I think that’s changing. For the sophisticated gardener, he/she wants roses that fit into their landscape with minimal maintenance. Therefore, the architecture of the shrub, foliage colour and texture, display of the flowers that is most pleasing to the eye, and disease resistance are more important than the form and bright colours of the flowers.

Having said the above, there will be an increasing demand for roses suitable for growing in the Outdoor Room (patio or deck area). In this case, roses do not have to fit into the landscape, although if they complement it so much the better. The architecture of the plant is not as important, since they have to be first suitable for growing in containers. This means the plants have to be relatively small and compact. They also have to be disease resistant or the unsightly foliage and lack of flower production will take away from the appearance of the Outdoor Room.

Thanks for your comments. I like a good debate.


Just a thought I had while reading Paul Olsen’s last post.

I would tend to agree that using moderns makes it much more difficult to obtain disease resistance.

…for example, two years ago I germinated a few seedlings which were from from a fairly disease-resistant seedling (‘Fragrant Cloud’ X carolina) crossed with very disease resistant Rosa virginiana clone. I had expected good disease resistance but all of these seedlings had terrible susceptibilty to mildew – which I’m assuming had to have come from the Hybrid Tea, since direct crosses of Rosa carolina X arkansana haven’t shown any tendency to mildew.

Now that I think about it again… that Rosa virginiana clone also gave a seedling, from a cross with Rosa davidii, that isn’t as strong as either parent. It isn’t disease susceptible necessarily but grows with the leaflets distorted from an unknown cause (possibly disease related).

So maybe I shouldn’t point a finger at the Hybrid Tea in that other parentage as the culprit for disease problems.

Oh and I just noticed I typed arkansana where it should have read virginiana. Sorry.

I think that we need to keep in mind that genetically there are 2 types of disease resistance - the single gene type which tends to be race specific and is referred to as vertical resistance; and the quantitative type which is not single gene, most likely it is not even due to a single biological mechanism, and is refered to as horizontal resistance. The species probably possess both types of resistance. Horizontal is definitely far more durable, meaning that changes in the population dynamics of the pathogen (one race becoming more predominant over the others) will not result in resistance breaking down. If we want to work with the single gene type of resistance we should probably think about pyramiding as many different race specific resistance genes as possible into a single genetic background. However, we also need to realize that at some point this resistance will break down.

Dealing with quantitatively inherited characters is a whole different story. There are many examples where offspring from a cross have a phenotype that falls outside the range of the parents. This is called transgressive segregation. I think that you can certainly stack the odds in your favor by starting with a species that exhibits good resistance, but you might also end up with resistant offspring by crossing 2 first generation species hybrids to one another.