I just got back from a big public rose garden and while there I noticed that the best looking plants in the whole place. They were all neat little shrubs, not leggy and sparse like the hybrid teas and floribundas, utterly covered with tiny flowers and not a speck of disease to be seen. (and that is quite a statement here in the land of black spot – in the OGR section they don’t spray, and the polyanthas and rugosas were the only roses without blackspot) I’ve never given them much thought before because basically all the rose books I have read pass them off as nothing but a step on the way to floribunda – but upon meeting them in person I am utterly charmed. Has anyone done any breeding with them? Any tips on good parents from the class or do they have any secret flaws that I should know about?
Polyanthas and “Shrublets” are wonderful roses. There are also a few miniatures such as Gourmet Popcorn that give a similar effect. As to what to use? That is a difficult answer because the ploidy in these groups vary a lot. Currently I am using Rabble Rouser as pollen parent. It isnt classed as a polyantha but it would be had it been introduced in the early 1900s. It is a cross between Baby Love (a patio mini and rambler species mix) and a patio type seedling. Rabble Rouser is 2’x 2’, deep yellow, covered in 1" blooms and highly resistant. Another pollen parent I am using is Mix & Match. This is a pale salmon shrublet of patio mini, polyantha and rambler parentage. No disease what so ever for 2 years and always covered in blooms. Wish I could have been more help to ya on the older polyanthas.
Marie Pavic sets op seeds & they germinate readily. A modern polyantha type that is rather larger is Lavender Dream. I have seedlings from it that resemble it’s neighbour La Marne, another polyantha.