How long do we wait for first bloom?

Do some seedlings require an “adolescence” period, or do some have an epigenetic or sporting event to make them start blooming? Or does it depend on the parents?

I don’t claim to know the answer to either of these questions, but I am concerned that I have shovel pruned some nice ones that I will never know.

The white specimen is a seedling from over ten years ago from a handful of achenes that I gave a cousin - it took five or six years before it bloomed.
It is a continual bloomer now. Is that an epigenetic or sporting event?

The second is from Heritage OP achenes I gave a friend four years ago - it took three seasons to bloom (it was a puny thing the first year)

The first has turned into a very fragrant, extremely healthy, but wickedly thorny, climbing rose, and the second looks to have potential as breeding stock - it’s quite healthy now, and he reports that the fragrance is “amazing”.

I usually give up after one year. Should I be more patient? It’s tough when you short on room. Advice would be appreciated.


What a pain. It would be so convenient if all roses destined to be recurrent would just bloom at the juvenile stage like they’re supposed to. When you’re making species/modern crosses and trying to recover the reblooming characteristic in the next generation, it would be so much simpler to just grow out tons of young seedlings and toss away those that don’t bloom in the first few months.

But it seems like I’m running into some cases where particular roses might give seedlings that have delayed recurrence. That screws up my whole system.

For instance, I have a rose in the field that blooms heavily all the way to freeze-up. It has an awkward habit but is extremely healthy and vigorous in addition to the heavy bloom. Seems kinda like a rugosa x modern cross, although I’ve lost track of its parentage. So I used it a lot last year in crosses, and also grew out quite a bit of open-pollinated seed, which I’m assuming is mostly selfs. None of the OP seeds are blooming young, and only a few of the seedlings from crosses are showing juvenile bloom. So maybe this rose has a rugosa parent and has inherited the rugosa tendency for delayed recurrence.

That prevents me from crossing this heavy-blooming rose with species F1s in hopes of recovering a small percentage of rebloomers, because I can’t select them at the “4-pack” stage…I’d have to grow them in the field for one or maybe two years and the numbers needed would be too high.

I am still going to line out the seedlings of this rose. Hoping for some sort of blessing in disguise from the hybridizing monkey wrench of delayed recurrence. Paul Barden’s words still echo in my mind (to paraphrase from memory): “Some of my heaviest repeating roses did not bloom at all for the first one or two years.”

So to try to answer your question, I think we still need to select for juvenile bloom most of the time, while taking a good look at the parents of any seedling that we want to give more than one year prior to first bloom - are those parents super hardy? Did they themselves show delayed recurrence? We each have to set our priorities based on how much room we have and what our breeding priorities are. I see no problem with most of us throwing away most seedlings that don’t bloom young, because as we do so we are selecting for a trait that makes our job as hybridizers so much easier.

David Z. Told me more the ten years ago that when I cross Explorer roses into modern roses they sometimes take a few
years to bloom. I waited ten years for a modern x near species cross to bloom. It blooms steady now for an extended
Period of time. I’m using it’s pollen now.

Some bloom within weeks. I’ve waited over seven years for others to flower. Most often, those which require LONG periods to flower haven’t proven themselves worthwhile retaining in my experience.

I’m possibly too new to offer much with roses specifically (a decade or so with various other plants) but really it comes down to whatever the breeder is willing to accept and then skewing the population as a result.

Sure when dealing with species or a few generations from you will need to be a little more patience simply because you’re unlikely (or impossible) to have all the juvenile bloom genes required for that to occur. If not dealing with species/near species though it’s really breeders choice…personally I wouldn’t but then I already deal with a few bulb species that take 3+ years that I don’t need to add to space taking given it’s not necessary.

After 7 years of waiting, I just saw first bloom on a moschata x wichuraiana F2 seedling (from open-pollination). I’d selected this particular seedling because of its more attractive growth habit and health.

In this case, it was definitely NOT worth the wait. The flowers were small and poorly formed and there was hardly any scent at all. Even if this seedling started reblooming like crazy at this point, I still don’t know if I’d want to keep it. I definitely don’t want to breed that kind of delay into any of my lines.

It depends what the parents are. I find the wider the cross the longer the wait and a lot of stuff involving Rugosa seems to take forever. I have two ‘Laura Ford’ x Rugosa ‘Alba’ seedlings that I have been waiting for about 6 years to flower because I want to create miniature rugosa. I just want them to flower once so I can put the pollen back onto Rugosa 'alba to pass on the mini gene again… but they are resisting flowering at all. A cross between R. sinowilsonii and ‘Violette’ took only 3 years to flower and now, about 6 years form germinating, it has sporadic rebloom. They are 4 years old in the photo… that was in 2015 and they aren’t much bigger now… and now there is only two.


Simon, I think sometimes the blooming can be influenced by whether the rose is in a pot or in the ground. I had
Chloris in a pots for years. It didn’t die, but it never thrived. I would be lucky to get one bloom per year.
Last spring I took the chance and planted it in a protected area. This year it’s going through its second flush
of blooms. Some roses just don’t like to be confined in a pot.

To answer the posed question…“How long do we wait for first bloom?”…often too long.

Two weeks ago these flowers appeared for the first time on a seedling I had planted in 2012 on “prime rose real estate” reserved for special roses…on the east side of my house. In five years I’ve walked by the seedling “a thousand times”…always looking down at it and muttering some statement of disappointment…but I left it alone…because the cross was important to me…and it was a unique seedling.
[attachment=0]Alba semi plena X Brown Velvet.jpg[/attachment]

Phenotypically it’s nothing special…just another unsaturated, single pink ASP seedling (It doesn’t seem to matter what pollen I use, F1s are typically like this when working with ASP in wide crosses). But I’m foolishly in it for the long haul…and threw some “Thrive” pollen at it.
Alba semi plena X Brown Velvet.jpg

Doug, I am not a pink rose person, but there is something nice about this one. Love your patience. Well done.

Thanks David…ASP on it’s own takes about three years to bloom here (Zone 2 US)…so it’s slow to establish. But the root system it sets down during that time ensures it will become a massive plant…even more vigorous than the wonderful Prairie Peace. Deer and insects and fungi do not like that blue green foliage…now imagine a red version of it. Photos taken 5 minutes ago…just coming into bloom.



Yes, some roses have a longer juvenile period.

There is evidence that maturity occurs at the top of the plants, rather than overall. Cutting back the main shoot can delay maturity. It is better (at least in fruit trees) to limit branching, while allowing the primary shoot to grow on.

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