Open Pollinated OGRs

I am a first time poster to the forum, and have a question regarding efforts to grow seedlings. I would like to start using hips from my collection of Old Garden, shrub and climbing roses. I have several hybrid perpetuals, bourbons, polyanthas, hybrid musks, and many other classes of roses that have numerous hips on them. I am at a loss as to how many hips should I attempt to harvest from a single variety and follow through with my first attempt to germinate seedlings. For example, Gipsy Boy has several hundred hips as does Mme Elisa de Vilmorin, as well as some hybrid musks. I even have a few hips on New Dawn and Blossomtime and many on Brownell’s Pink Pillar and Rose du Roi a fleur Pourpres. Should I only try a dozen seeds of each or should I try more, and if the latter, how would I handle the tens of seeds from each variety? Somewhere I have the Association’s booklet on germination. The excitement of seeing some seedlings from great old cultivars is intriguing. Thanks. Best, Nick Weber

How much space and energy do you have Nick?

This is exactly how I started breeding roses. It’s great experience. It will help you figure out how to handle seedlings before you get serious about making planned crosses.

I like keeping the best of these types of seedlings to use as unique breeding subjects.

Hello Nick,

It’s good to hear from you. I’d probably plant as many of each as you have the space and time to take care of. (Actually I usually plant more than I can take care of)

After seeing ease of germination and general health of seedlings, you’ll be in a good position to choose parents for planned crosses next season.

Until then, you might get some really nice surprises from the crosses the bees have done.

As for germination methods, I bet you could find lots of information by searching the archives of this forum. But there’s a general “how to” at the following link:


Robert and Tom - Thanks for the encouraging words and heads up on germination in the linked article. I saw an Article from I believe the 1922 Rose Annual where Dr. W. van Fleet mentioned that he planted rose seeds in a bed outside in the ground. It sounds like the technology has advanced somewhat since then. But look at all the great roses he produced. I hope that I can get anything that has an interesting form, fragrance, and habit in my first attempt. It is clear that one can possibly germinate many hundreds of seeds with some luck in a few trays under lights. The part I hope to run across is what size pot or tray does one use for the first transplants and do they get transplanted more than once the first year. The these latter steps and space may affect how many hundred seed I put into the initial germination trays. I have heard stories that commercial hybridizers expect one pretty good possibility (rose) from thousands of seedlings. Its a good thing that I am not thinking on that scale right now. However, as mentioned in the article, it appears that one must ruthlessly discard poor performers at the earliest time.

Interestingly, in the linked article, there is no mention of putting shelled seeds in the refrigerator which I had heard about somewhere before. I’m sure I will run across several other ways to start the germination. Like propagating cuttings - there are probably tens of ways to germinate rose seeds and each probably has its own difficulties. At present, I will do a little research as I collect the hips which are now orange or red for the most part. However, I get the sense that I don’t want to encourage mold/fungus. It appeared that Mr. Winchel used Captan liberally to avoid this problem. What do folks use today? Thanks again. Best, Nick


Welcome aboard!


I would try as many hips as you can manage. You will end up tossing many of what germinates and you are more likey to find a keeper with increased numbers. Have fun!


Hi, Nick,

And may I add encouragement for your efforts because our Easter Freeze in the southeast set some roses blooms back and they may have been open pollinated with roses that they wouldn’t co-bloom with in any other year.

For me, the problem with letting the seeds come up in the ground is that they may come up in our warm time in December and be the most tasty, fresh plants in the garden when the resident rodents come looking for salad. One year I had o.p. seeds sprouting all over under Golden Wings, and I figured they’d be there come spring. Nope, not a one. All gone.

Chicken wire will keep rabbits out. Hardware cloth will keep most mice out.


Germinating the seeds in the ground has been almost as effective for me as germinating them indoors. And I’ve also had some success with seeds kept outdoors in pots.

I’m thinking you’ll probably have to “play it by ear”, with pot sizes and frequency of transplanting. That’ll depend on the vigor of the seedlings, which can vary a lot.

Good luck, Tom

As for damping off, a lot has been tried over the years and I don’t think that any less-toxic chemicals have proven reliable for everyone. Hydrogen peroxide simply didn’t work for me (and may have killed some of my seedlings). The single most effective way to prevent it - a nearly perfect method, actually - seems to be a layer of Perlite (or you could use chicken grit) on top of the growing medium, about 1/2 inch thick. I’ve also found very dilute fish emulsion helpful - apparently this works by feeding the “good” microorganisms rather than trying to nuke the “bad” ones. I learned this from a Canadian source, which indicated that the medium should be moistened with the solution seven days before introducing your seeds.

It’s great to see you doing this! You’re sure have an enviable base of OGR cultivars to begin working with.

Stefan could you describe the conditions (concentrations, application method, etc.) that you used with your hydrogen peroxide trials?

I followed your instructions, but I don’t recall what that was - 10%? It was pretty dilute. It wasn’t any sort of trial, as there were no controls, but the seedlings were doing fine before I used the peroxide on them… Others damped off anyway.

I found a lot of OP hips from roses (not ID-ed yet) which I found in the village. I separate the floating ones from the sinked ones and put them in a box. I’m wondering how many of eacht will sproud. Maybe you can do this experiment also when you’re planning to use a lot of hips.

Regarding “good” and “bad” microorganisms in the growing medium, would it make sense to microwave the medium for lets say 3 minutes prior to planting to eliminate all organisms? Would that reduce the amount of damp-off? This is something I’ve been doing and I seem to have very little damp off problems. I don’t know if there is a correlation there or not.

I think it’s sound to sterilize the soil first (I heard a talk by Ken Druse where he said he uses oven baking bags to sterilize soil in the microwave) but I would still cover the soil with a gritty material because it’s such good insurance.

Back to the peroxide, when I was interested in using it I had read that scientists found that it can “shock” plants almost like subjecting them to cold temperatures - they were researching methods to temporarily halt the growth of seedlings if I remember right. Maybe repeated applications were just too much for some of my seedlings to rebound from. I’m actually pretty curious why it would have this effect for me and not for other people, unless there was some strange soil interaction or other unforeseen quirk.

I’ve had seeds that I had neglected after a soak in water & peroxide solution, germinate while still in the water.

Hydrogen peroside is an oxidizing agent. How strong of an oxidizing agent depends on the concentration (the Nernst equation). My recommendation is to take 3 % (0.03) drugstore hydrogen peroxide and dilute it by adding 5 ml of it to 95 ml of water. This gives a final concentration of about 0.0015.

In the paper linked to below, the use of hydrogen peroxide (and other chemicals) to control Fusarium species caused damping-off on longleaf pine seedlings were studied. They used hydrogen peroxide concentrations of 0.0046, 0.0092, and 0.0138.

The following is a quote from their RESULTS section (pages 980-981): “Growth of each of the species of Fusarium was completely inhibited on MYE amended with benomyl or mancozeb, regardless of fungicide concentration. Growth of F. solani was reduced by only 60% on difenoconazole-amended MYE regardless of concentration while all other species were reduced by 90 % (data not shown). Media amended with thiabendazole completely inhibited growth of all species except F. solani regardless of concentration. Hydrogen dioxide in MYE completely inhibited growth of the fungi, except for slight growth (7 % of control) of F. solani at the lowest concentration. When fungal plugs were removed from fungicide-amended MYE, growth resumed from those plugs previously exposed to benomyl, thiabendazole, and difenoconazole but not from plugs exposed to mancozeb or hydrogen dioxide.”

H. Kuska comment: MYE is “malt yeast extract agar” and “hydrogen dioxide” is “hydrogen peroxide”.

Later, on page 982 in the DISCUSSION section, they state: “Hydrogen dioxide is labeled as a disinfectant to reduce fungal and insect pests in ornamental nurseries. Specifically, incidence of Phomopsis vaccinii in blueberries (Schilder et al., 2002) was reduced with applications of hydrogen dioxide. In the current study, hydrogen dioxide treatment did not affect longleaf pine seed germination but did inhibit Fusarium growth in vitro. Given that no phytotoxicity was observed in seed germination trials and that recovery of Fusarium was reduced with hydrogen dioxide, further trials might be desirable regarding the use of this product on longleaf pine.”


Apparently even seeds release hydrogen peroxide to protect themselves from pathogens, see:


Thanks all again for the the encouragement. I will try and use a sterile substrate or one that I treat with a fungicide along with a perlite top dressing. That sounds like a place to start. One final aspect is that some appear to plant the whole group of stratified seeds at one time while others plant individual seeds when that appear to be germinating in a refrigerator. While the latter approach sounds useful to selecting only seeds that are actively germinating, it doesn’t seem too practical for several hundred seeds. The alternative would be to plant seeds in trays and place multiple trays in a refrigerator or special cool area just for that purpose. However, the single treatment (say in trays) appears to put one on the horns of a dilemma in that the newly germinating seedlings need to be under intense light and at 70 degrees. I am unsure whether other ungerminated seeds will subsequently germinate under those conditions. Best, Nick

That’s exactly the recipe I used, Henry; I was trying to remember what ratio of standard drug store peroxide to water I tried. I may try again with some less-valuable seeds, because it certainly would be a cheap way to prevent damping-off. I’m just glad there are alternative methods that work perfectly for me. Another good thing about what I use - the Perlite or grit on top also completely inhibits fungus gnats, which will otherwise destroy germinating seeds.

Stefan, if you try again, I suggest that you use distilled water to remove the possibility that the H2O2 is reacting with chlorine or something else in your local water supply.

I use sand as a top dressing (for fungus gnats), see: