new breeding perspectives

From a previous thread: >

Beside the mainstay HT breeding line, with the converging Fl and LC there are some others often rather recent like Ground Covers or English style shrubs.

New breeding perspectives may be about plant qualities such as size, growth habit, frame architecture, foliage, resistance, adaptation etc…

As well as flower size, shape, display, colors, scent etc…

An ongoing one is Miniatures that Moore revived and that lead to another rose family with Miniature Ramblers, Climbers, ground Covers and Shrubs. The later Miniature Shrubs certainly have bright perspectives.

Another should be rugosa derived vars with this species outstanding plant qualities and more varied flowers.

Wider adaptation is another perspective as is specialized adaptation.

There is also a renewal at ramblers breeding here and there.

What perspectives do you see, pursue or imagine…

… and which species may contribute ???

I think the (relatively small-scale) breeding program by the University of Helsinki in Finland is a good example of “new breeding perspectives”. See the article below.

They skip the HTs altogether and instead combine hardy found roses that have survived winter cold and diseases for decades with repeat blooming kordesii roses and hardy Canadian cultivars. They even breed new burnet (spinosissima) roses!

This type of breeding work will never be able to compete with the new HTs and cluster-flowered roses flooding into the market each year. Neither is it likely to be a commercial success anywhere outside Finland (or even in Finland). But that’s not the point; it is potentially very important for rose growing in countries with cold climates.


Jukka, Do you happen to know why the Aicha (which i use a great deal for pollen) progeny were deemed unworthy? Was it a hardiness issue? It’s so great the University of Helsinki has this program going. What a pleasure. i lived in Norway and Sweden for awhile, but never made it to Finland. My loss!

Joe, I have no specific information about that. I think it’s a general statement, implying that the crosses they chose to make to breed yellows just didn’t happen to produce good seedlings.

I myself would (and intend to!) try Hazeldean and an old local strain of William’s double yellow to breed repeat blooming hardy yellows.

Perhaps our focus (perspective) should change from producing continuous bloomers, to producing plants which bloom in spring, rest all summer, and bloom again in fall.

Blooms produced during summer are worthless, destroyed by heat, disease, and insects; plants waste a lot of energy producing them.

Dave, the summer resting plants usually do not rest when summer is not dry enough. There are a few OGR i.e. some damasks that are twice blooming. Alas second flowering is rather unreliable. This unreliable second flowering was highly praised as it was the only one available then.

Jukka, I am with you about interest of departing from HTs as much as possible. At least partly.

By the way is’nt Pirjo Rautio also breeding along this line?

Beside frost resistance there is one strong argument against the usal backcross to HT strategy. It is desease resistance.

Amount of clean seedlings is very, very tiny even from two desease resistant HTs (there are a very few here french Riviera). When one can get full clean F1 species hybrid progenies.

Thanks for the information Jukka. i will be getting Williams Double Yellow this year based on your input. But i’ll keep going with Aicha as some of the seedlings look promising. Oh, and by the way i have gotten some op hips from it, both last year and this. No germination from last years 1 seed, and i’ve only just gotten to putting this years seeds into the fridge for stratification.

I think I covered this more or less in a previous thread but it’s worth repeating again.

It’s ironic the Rosa genus having about 120 species in it, far more than many other genera popularly used for ornamental landscaping purposes, has been so under ultilized to develop attractive shrubs for the landscape. Of course, the reason for this is the emphasis on flower quality rather than the shrub as a whole. But because of the potential to develop new ornamental cultivars using Rosa, I think in the future we will see a major increase of cultivars with a wide range of forms, and foliage colours and textures. The most valuable will be shrubs providing colour contrast in the landscape. Initially, flower quality of these shrubs will be only fair or mediocre. Eventually though, further breeding should be able to provide a good balance of shrub and flower quality.

I think the second most important future development in roses is improving dwarf, compact types that can be used as groundcovers or for planting in containers. This is necessary because people don’t have the space they used to have for growing roses. Furthermore, what space they have is often comprised of mostly a deck or patio. Therefore, for these people wanting to grow roses they have to be planted in containers. While many groundcover cultivars have been developed, they often lack flower size and fragrance. It will be especially challenging to provide fragrance while retaining disease resistance. This is because Rosa wichurana, usually in the parentage of this type of rose, provides the disease disease resistance. When this species is diluted too much, disease resistance is reduced or disappears.

One further point I want to make. In my opinion, garden centres are missing an opportunity to market roses by not selling groundcover roses as bedding plants. As bedding plants, they can be planted in the landscape or potted up in containers. However, they have to be grown in cell packs or small containers so they are competitively priced with annual flowers. As far as I know, this is not being done yet.

Garden centers are horrible as a whole. But much creativity cant be expected to those working @ minimum wage. I once worked for one of the most premium nurseries in Portland Metro (The City of Roses, mind you). The managers and owner had no clue who the Portland Rose Society was…

Your idea would work with roses like, hmm, Snow Carpet. 1 gallons or large quarts would work well for the larger ground covers. The only similar idea, other that the Flower Carpet series, is when the local nurseries sell “natives” in 1 gallon pots. Theyre usually just Rosa woodsii sitting in the same pot for 10 years til someone throws it away.

Many roses are already offer in small pots. They require a premium price because they are more expensive to produce than most perennials.

I work both in the retail side and the wholesale side of rose sales for years.

People want cheap product. When roses can compete in price with other perennials they will become more common.

I’m personally glad they command a somewhat premium price. They are already too inexpensive.

Roses “already too inexpensive.” I don’t know the U.S. market but in Canada it’s common to see a 2 gal. container in garden centres selling for $27.50. That’s expensive. In a year or two it will be $30.00. As I see it, the cost is getting to the point detering the purchasing of roses.

That is expensive Paul. It is not uncommon to see HTs here at hardware stores in the $8.00 range.

Miniature roses are treated as throw aways at markets.

California is probably different than many areas.

Paul, I like your idea of more compact and clean plants. I think that interest in roses could be revived with clean, fragrant, larger flowered floribunda type roses on compact bushes with glossy leaves. These would work well in the landscape and on patios/decks.

$27.50!! And rose breeders get royalties as low as $0.22 per plant!

Jim Sproul

Wow…$0.22 per plant. I thought it would be a few dollars at the least. That’s outrageous.

Well heck, Jim, on that note, I think I’ll throw in the towel and quit playing in the pollen then!


Actually, if you had bred Knockout, you’d be doing pretty nicely on that, I would imagine. Not that that is why I do my armchair hybridizing anyway.

Truth is, I haven’t really been able to play in the pollen much this year. :frowning:

And I concur that the high-centered flower is not where it’s at for us.

I get a kick, for instance, out of roses like “petite pink scotch” which I saw as a shrub in Texas, having almost micro-mini foliage and tiny button blooms on a plant of interesting habit, and I wonder if that could be a more popular plant (were it recurrent)…

Roses which aren’t too stereotypically rosey do catch my attention.


Wichuraiana is a good example of the possible diverse breeding strategies.

It is the better species when one consider desease resistance. Never spots nor mildews.

To the point it is where german scientific Thomas Debener is looking for a resistance gene to patent and incorporate in succeptible cvs.

This single gene strategy mostly has failed for the easier breeding plants and historicaly for roses.

Wichuraiana use in breeding new roses began around 1900 when it was a fashionable parent for more pliable wooded ramblers. Dorothy Perkins being the better known. Initialy very clean it is a martyr to PM in most places.

Further used at breeding polyanthas, Floribundas and ultimately Hts that are distinguished by not better than average at desease resistance glossy leaves.

Recently it was and is still used a lot by Ralph Moore and other stepping on his shoulders mini breeders. Wichuraiana contribution here is smaller plant parts. Desease resistance has gone with back crosses to Hts and Fls.

Nevertheless desease resistance is here as are showing many successfull Ground Cover cvs whose breeding include the quite unusual back crosses to the species.

Here we have the main alternative breeding strategy: finding new formats, unfolding and developing new genes expressions. Sibcrossing and backcrossing as often as needed to maintain a (new) species strength and resistance.

Most successfull new ventures in breeding programs are along this line with Moore, Noak, Warner and wichuraiana or Austin, Guillot, Poulsen, Meilland and gallica.

Of which Moore, Noak, Warner, Austin and Guillot (Massad) more or less started as amateurs.

If we can play with the big breeders without investing a lot of time and money we cannot realy compete.

For us amateurs exploring new species and new formats is much more promising. And more exciting as when going out of beaten pathes: perseverance, open mind and imagination are needed more than a lot of money.

Which new species? Nobody knows as the obvious ones have been exploited!

The better oportunities are probably looking at diversity either in the relictual Hulthemia, Hesperodos, Banksiae, Laevigatae, Minutifoliae, Pimpinellifoliae and the mostly unexplored and very diverse Cinnamomae that many think should include Carolinae.

With open mind and imagination!

I don’t know the U.S. market but in Canada it’s common to see a 2 gal. container in garden centres selling for $27.50. That’s expensive. In a year or two it will be $30.00. As I see it, the cost is getting to the point detering the purchasing of roses.

No, that’s what I see. About $18-20 for a 1 gal, $27-30 for a 2 gal. Anything in the $8 region is a bareroot at Walmart.

Unless you’re talking about a mini in a tiny pot at the supermarket, that’s $5 or $6. Of course I live in California…but still.

…and at an “elite” garden center, you might see Austin roses for upwards of $50 for about a 2-3 gallon pot - I presume this is because the roses are coming directly from Austin’s nursery and they pay dearly for the license to sell each plant. I can hardly believe that people are willing and able to support an industry at those prices.

What I think is that new breeding perspectives need to go hand-in-hand with new marketing and sales perspectives. What good does it do to breed the perfect rose if it never reaches its audience? How many great roses do we know of today that have never been anything but completely obscure?

Making real money from roses is currently the sole domain of a mere few large corporations - and for the most part, they do it by paying the breeder a pittance per rose, but making up for it in volume sales. This has helped to create conditions where breeders don’t expect to see a profit unless their product reaches monumental sales levels, and companies don’t expect to have to pay the breeder much. Obviously, the success of the plant is as much determined by advertising and corporate will as it is by the merits of the plant. This mass-sales perspective also tends to result in chronic overuse of a small number of landscape plants and low landscape diversity. If it gets out of control, that kind of problem can even lead to increased need for chemical inputs, further propagating into issues of health, ecology and so on.

In order to compete successfully with the big players, what we need is some kind of organized front through which we can market our products without having to go through the usual channels. What about some kind of non-profit breeders’ cooperative nursery where we can test, produce, advertize, and sell our roses to the public? The gardening public of today, I feel, would likely be sensitive to the opportunity to reward that person who so carefully guided the design and selection of the products they choose to purchase. A much higher percentage of each rose’s sale can go back to the breeder, where in turn it can be used to invest in more and better breeding, which seems like a free market ideal. And supporting breeders throughout the nation, or nations, enables consumers to help promote locally adapted selection rather than mass-market agendas and leads to more choice and landscape diversity, not less. The rest of the sales could then be used to fund the cooperative’s commercial activities, promote research, and pay for things like patenting fees, promotion, administration and overhead. Of course, this almost certainly isn’t something we have the means or (probably) the will to do now. But I do think it’s worth considering one day if there’s any chance it could fly.

I’m getting down off my soap box - sorry for that, I guess sometimes you have to let yourself dream a little.

About those prices–

At current exchange rates, Canadian $27.50 equals US $23.75. Every $10 in Canadian currency is about $8.64 in US currency.

At various times the difference has been wider–and by the time the roses cost $30 in Canada the two currencies may be running neck-and-neck, but at the current exchange rate the $30 rose in Canada would cost $25.90 in the US.

For a comparison, roses on the Peter Beales Classic Roses site are listed at prices from 7.25 to 11.95 pounds sterling, with comparable US prices from $14.15 to $23.32. These mail-order prices do not include packing and shipping charges, or other fees that might be applicable (special inspections and certifications, for example). Nor do they include local sales taxes.

Marketing roses is mostly not the way to get rich. If more people bought roses, the price per plant would probably be lower, but although roses are greatly loved by many, they are planted and tended by relatively few. Developing roses that are easier to grow will expand the market for roses and will make them more affordable, as has been suggested in one way or another by Robert, Jim, and others. Ultimately, the market drives the prices.

An added benefit to having more people in the habit of growing roses would be this economic reality: a larger number of the roses produced would be bought and grown rather than killed by poor handling in garden centers and other stores.

At present, many roses (maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of those produced?) never get sold or planted, and you may be sure that the cost of those roses killed before purchase is included in the cost of the roses we buy. I’ve not seen industry estimates of these losses, but perhaps someone else would be able to supply those.


Going back to the comments from Jukka and Joe regarding Aicha. The primary reasons for my using Aicha was winter hardiness and the color yellow. I’ve used Aicha almost exclusively as a pollen donor the past few years since I’ve never been able to get it to set hips. I’ve found it does pass color well and winter hardiness and disease resistance in the seedlings is variable.

On average about 20% of the crosses are repeat blooming.

The biggest problem I’ve had is that many of the seedlings seemed to give up the ghost after a short time in the garden.

I have kept a couple of the better roses based on hardiness, vigor and form.

For those seeking a hardy repeat bloominmg yellow rose this may be a reasonable option.

Here are links for two of the Aicha crosses.