R. primula: any experiences

It’s three months plus or minus two weeks until R. primula starts to bloom here. When it blooms, it does wonderful things for the garden and is a long lasting splash of color in a fairly colorless landscape. I’d like to have more early blooming roses and am wondering if anyone has tried adding china or tea pollen to primula. Primula seems to set hips easily. This past year I learned, too late, that the hips drop early, earlier than I had anticipated. We have large rodent populations out in the fields near those beds, and I expect they feasted well.

I’d also like to see what happens with the addition of bracteata and laevigata pollen…anyone tried these?

I would like to extend the blooming season to earlier in the year, in this part of the country at the very least. I was shocked when a local HT grower wrote in the local rose soc newsletter in midMay that he hoped people had some buds by then. I’d had blooms for six weeks by then on all my roses and even on HTs.

My version is, according to a friend with a healthy nose, a very strong smeller. I may have several suckers to share as we are going to move this one in a week or two.


I’m very interested in R. primula hybrids as well, although I’ll have to wait for the seeds I was given to sprout and grow to adulthood before trying any breeding with it myself. Some people must surely be playing with this species already; the only difficulty, but just a small one, is that you probably have to store frozen pollen from most roses in order to use it on R. primula so early in the spring. If falling hips are problematic, you might experiment with covering some of them in foil as protection from animals and as visual identification aid if they do end up on the ground. You ought to try collecting pollen from the species and see what will set hips with it, too - the more attempts the better, especially if yours is a well-scented type!

I really like R. primula too. It hasn’t cooperated in the few attempts I’ve tried so far. Also, mine isn’t much of a “smeller” as far as foliage is concerned.

I do remember an relatively recent article in the ARS magazine about an Asian rose breeding group (can’t remember which country). They were using Rosa primula and I think Rosa hugonis also, to bolster the cold-hardiness in their hybrids (with Hybrid Teas etc.).

Ann, do you know where your good clone of R. primula came from? I just looked at the emails I was exchanging with the person I got my seed from, and discovered that they’re probably R. xanthina instead. So I’m now in the market!

I also received some pollen from a couple of R. primula’s near relatives, and they seemed to be reasonably fertile on some quite unrelated roses - at least diploids (especially the native blanda/woodsii/acicularis thing that grows wild here). I suppose the progeny will have difficulty reproducing sexually, but that is probably the price to be paid for such a cross.

Thanks for the info about the Asian breeders, Tom - do you remember if it went into any detail about their methods? I’m curious to know if they tried to create fertile triploids or were relying on unreduced gametes or some other technique when working with different ploidies.

Mine came from an alleyway in Montana and was called R. sericea. But the flowers weren’t white and the scent is strong and definitive and the bloom time didn’t match R. sericea omiensis. The thorns are reddish, but not any where near the size of wingthorn (which we have and which is much less vigorous.)

So, mine is an orphan survivor and a hearty one at that.

If I were prone to exagerration, I’d say I’ll have tons of pollen to share. We are going to move this one and it should re-establish quickly so we will have pollen to share but I’m not sure when. (When we moved Harrison’s yellow, it bloomed six weeks late.)

My teas and chinas usually start blooming in time to overlap with primula and I do know folks to the south of me who have laevigata and they do have many ounces of pollen.

The leaves on my “primula” don’t have any fragrance either. Mine has never bloomed in the six years it’s been here. It must require more chill. Mine came from Sequoia Nsy. Thanks, Robert