How big or small.

I’ve been involved in the intriguing hobby of rose hybridizing for five years. I’m more than impressed with all the helpful information on the RHA website. Each year I set a goal of 150-175 different crosses,with a total of about 500 crosses. Space in my basement limits me to this. I mainly use Buck,David Austin,Parkland and Explorer Series roses. The end result is 4,000-4500 seeds to be planted. I find this to be(enjoyable) time involved. But,then I see Jim Sproul’s website and he plants 30,000-40,000 seeds! Kudos to Jim. How do you do it? It makes me wonder about others out there and how big or small their enjoyable hobby is. How about it. Can you give us any idea? Thank You,Brad

I have no clue how many seeds I sow each year…its not like I count them! laughs I have one 16 X 20 foot greenhouse which is dedicated to seedlings each Spring, and once that house is full, I have to stop potting up seedlings. I take a representattive sampling of all crosses, with a top end limit of 200 seedlings per cross. (If you don’t see results in a sampling of 200, then there are no results to be had) Last year the house was full when I reached the 4500 seedlings point, potted into 2.75 inch square pots. There was likely another 4000 seedlings (or more?) that were discarded when my limits were reached. My guess is that at least 20,000 seeds were sown to achieve these numbers.

I have an article I wrote for Peter Harris this month which is likely to appear in the Rose Hybridizers Newsletter, at least in part. (It was long) Many details of my techniques and approach are discussed in the article.

PS: Congrats to Jim on the introduction of ‘Honey Dijon’! I’m envious; that kind of rose is something I am aiming for in my own work, and it looks like you have hit the bullseye, Jim. I look forward to growing it in my own garden.



I’m probably at the extreme small end of the spectrum. I’m pretty busy in a daily life kind of way; and I hybridize many other kinds of plants other than roses. So, I don’t have the resources (free time being the most limiting factor) to do thousands of seedlings; although I would love to someday. For now, I am content to do more direct species X species crosses which tend to be very uniform (as F1 population). This makes it unnecessary to grow more than a couple seedlings of a particular cross. In a good year, I may try a dozen different combinations. Usually they are more difficult wide-cross types, so I don’t end up with many seeds after all. Later, when I use these species crosses as parents, I guess I’ll have to get serious and grow large numbers of seedlings.

I’m thinking I might do a lot of outdoor germination when that time comes. I’ve had reasonable success in the past with that approach. What do you think of that??

Take care, Tom

Very small. Two shop lites. 300 seeds max. Baggies then peat rounds then Styrofoam cups then soda bottles then outside. Small experiments with cleaning seeds with dull blender blades (do tape the blades). Using Beano and flucuating temps to reduce the time it takes for the shell to split. Shaking seeds up in a pill container with a beetle’s snuff of rooting powder. Trying to master? techniques (love the process) from seed collection to transpantable seedlings. It is a hobby. Still, I am surprised with what I get sometimes but most of the plants are unacceptable.

It’s read, read, read - getting ready for that day when I might be able to find the roses I need from the thousands of seedlings from purposeful xings to capture the ideal rose look I think I can get. But I am very happy even proud of what I can do now and glad to have the collective wisdom, drive, humor, candor, and knowledge of the people in this group.

I seem to be in the middle. I try to grow at least 1000 seedlings each year, and have had as many as 2000. I germinate seeds in petri dishes, plant them in small bands, keep them in the house for a while, then move them out to my greenhouse (8 X 21).

Paul, if you see something good in a sample of 200 seedlings, how many do you grow from the cross the next year?

I have had to scale down my “operation”.


for the details.


My biggest year was 2002 when I planted about 3000 seeds.

This year I have only about 60 seeds. Typically 100-300

seeds a year.

I have a good amount of space (12x8 greenhouse and large

basement) for seedlings, but I tend to do crosses that

need 3+ years to bloom, so I am running out of space

in my yard to put the bushes.

From what I read we are on the smaller side than many of you. We generally have 4-500 seeds and 150 or so seedlings, however this year with Mitchie fighting the big “C” we didn’t make that many crosses. We have a couple hundred seeds now in the stratification process for this season. We have a 16 x 30 foot greenhouse which has quite a number of plants in the evaluation stage from prior years. We also have most of our mother plants in pots in there as well so we can start the pollination process much earlier than outside. Will have to plant a lot of our seedlings out in the beds this spring for a better evaluation.

I just started hybridizing roses this year. I did ~25 crosses of which about 1/4 took. I don’t know how many resulting seeds I got. I’m also “playing” with some OP hips that I got on my own roses and some I received from others.

Chris Mauchline

I’d guess I germinate 100-300 seedlings most years. My light set-up has room for 4 flats and a few odd pots. I try to not grow that many though, since it is hard to get to all the seedlings when the area is full. I can plant out in May, so I do have additional room for new seedlings as older seedlings are moved outside.