Rugosa×Hulthemia hybrids?

Hi everyone,
Newbie here!
So glad I found this forum. I have been reading various threads for the last few days and am learning so much from all of the posters here.
In a 2014 thread about hybridizing with Rugosas, several posters mentioned exploring the cross with Hulthemias.
Has anything come out of these experiments? I am really curious to hear about what parents were tried and what the issues may have been.
Has anyone managed to make a rugosa-looking plant with the Hulthemia’s famous “eye”?

Well one of the original Harkness’ Hulthemia hybrids, Nigel Hawthorne, is a cross between R. persica and a rugosa hybrid. It looks like a lovely shrub, but as long as I know it is completely (or virtually) sterile. Anyhow, going back to the original species would be really difficult; what would make more sense to me would be crossing modern hulthemias with a rugosa, or possibly a fertile modern-rugosa hybrid.
The rugosa-modern hybrid way is not easy at all (health+infertility), but I don’t see why using a modern hulthemia would be different from using any other modern shrub (+ the fact that you would need way more seedlings than usual if you want to get some good blotches). The main problem will probably be going on to the newt generation, due to low fertility level.

If you decide to try it, please keep us updated, it should be really interesting!

Warren had some Fru Dagmar Hastrup X Sweetspot Calypso (Sweetspot Calyspo is diploid) as you can see above

I have some too (same cross) but there was a lot of health issues (unsurprising given how bad sweetspot calypso is), none as nice and clear as his first picture, often disfigured petals that last less than a day (seems a common thing with rugosa wide crosses). The rugosa influence in the foliage often wasn’t strong.

When crossed with Ann Endt as the parent, a lot of the seedlings suffered a lot of die back issues (which eventually was the thing that took out my plant of Sweetspot Calypso).

Warren may have others, just had a quick look on his facebook and there was this post from a few months ago

I think it’s going to be largely a numbers game to find some ok F1’s and fertility and then crossing fingers for the F2 which is probably where some good will turn up.

Thank you both for these replies!
Roseseek recently mentioned Nigel Hawthorne on the Houzz rose forum, it does look very very cute! It is almost perfect except for the lack of repeat blooms, and if there is also a sterility issue then I best not bother with it.
I am really just an aspiring hobbyist hybridizer at this point. I will be making my first attempts this year. Personally I am drawn to rugosas more than any other class because they do well in my very windy conditions.
My garden is on my rooftop about 150metres from the sea in Malta (z11), so all my roses are in pots. I have Schneekoppe, which I would like to use as a mother due to her compact size and abundant hips. I might also try some of the Pavement series, or Sarah van Fleet (supposed to be one of the best rugosas in warm climates).
I was thinking of trying various Hulthemia hybrids (Eyes for you, Eyes on me, Trendy Babylon eyes) as pollen parents. Compact size, salt/ wind/ heat tolerance and repeat blooms are my main goals, and a nice blotch would be a plus!
It’s going to be a long road but if I get anything I will definitely post here. If any crosses between the parents I mentioned have been tried before, I’d be glad to know so I don’t waste my time on dead ends!
@Plazbo Warren’s rose is extremely pretty! Thank you for the information about Fru Dagmar and Sweetspot Calypso! I will avoid that mix as well as the Ann Endt one.
I am still wrapping my head around some of the most fundamental things like ploidy, I will do more research to try and not ask too many dumb questions here as this progresses!
At this point my methods are going to be very very basic, just see what’s blooming in my garden at the same time as the rugosas and try to see what happens if I try to mix them together!

I really appreciate the feedback from both of you, thanks so much!

Welcome! I’ve never grown Sarah Van Fleet, but as you said it has the reputation as one of the more heat tolerant rugosas. Unfortunately, it also has the reputation of being sterile. I don’t believe it has any recorded offspring, unfortunately.


Thank you very much!
This is extremely useful information about SvF.
I will be in much less of a rush to try using her then, I guess.
I am reading and absorbing, there’s so much to learn on this forum!

I haven’t found any growing wild yet during my weekend walks but they do sell rugosa alba and rubra in nurseries here.
The thing that kept me from getting them is the size. By using Schneekoppe, or a Pavement, I was aiming to start with something more compact.
I might try picking up a rugosa alba just for experiment’s sake.
Harkness (1977)
“Two seedlings of H. persica x R. rugosa alba also failed. Probably no two diploid species of roses are more dissimilar than H. persica and R. rugosa; at all events the seedlings from that cross try to make leaves from the seedling stem at intervals of 3 or 4 mms, and their effort exhausts them before they are very high.”
Harkness (1989)
From the 1976 pollination, we got the most promising cross so far with a rugosa rose. Up to then, persica x rugosa seedlings had nearly always died, due, I suppose, to natural antipathy between those species. The cross in this case was H. persica x ‘Harvest Home’. The latter is a seedling of ‘Scabrosa’. The hybrid has deep pink flowers, dusky red at the base of the petals. Also it has lots of pollen, which we have been industriously dusting, so far without results.

Thank you for sharing these @KarlK!
Fascinating to learn about the Harkness experiments with Hulthemias.
I guess one thing I am noticing is that germination rates, and further seedling survival rates, are really pretty dismal. Good to know so I adjust my expectations!

A lot of the doom and gloom is just the fact it’s a wide cross which tend to have incompatibilities of some sort that make them tricky. Not an impossibility, just difficult.

The Harkness examples are also with the species directly, while the hulthemia hybrids you mention as possible parents are 5+ generations from the species and likely share a lot more “modern” dna…it’s just moderns and rugosa crosses also aren’t particularly compatible (health and fertility issues).

It’s something that can work out to some degree (as seen in warrens examples)…just will take a lot of crossing, patience, time and space as you’re not likely to see juvenile bloom (rugosa’s can often take 3 years to start flowering…so if you started tomorrow you may not see flowering until 2025/2026). The first generations are unlikely to be particularly fertile (seed fertility will be rare, pollen fertility will likely turn up more just due to how much more pollen is made), there may be a exceptions but they aren’t the rule. And then you likely need to decide if you’re breeding those first generations back to rugosa’s (for more years of waiting and the eye may not have passed on or be little more than a slight flush of pink) or back to the hulthemia (and likely loosing a lot of the rugosa characteristics).

It’s just a harder and slower path but as jAc123 said, at this point shouldn’t be too different from

Something that may be of interest (and I’m attempting to replicate myself) is

it’s a mostly rugosa looking plant from a cross of flower carpet white x fru dagmar hastrup…a lot of the Warner hulthemia (eg Eyes on me) presumably have flower carpet in them (via SCRIVbell) which may (or may not) make them a little more compatible than other moderns.

Ah, yes, MEItozaure… Sigh.
This is a rose I would have LOVED to grow. It was mentioned in that 2014 thread I referenced in my OP.
Unfortunately, it has been discontinued by Meilland and I can’t find a seller for it anywhere in Europe. There are apparently sellers for Turbo Rugostar (MEIrozrug) but the parentage is different.
Thank you for the information about the Warner Hulthemias! It makes me glad I chose his Eyes on Me as a potential parent.
And thanks also for the info regarding how long this is going to take! I guess it will be a looong while before I post any pics of blooms here! That’s ok: if I can get anything at all I will be very happy.

Easy on the Eyes is probably more compatible with rugosas than Eyes For You or Bull’s Eye are. Probably as a pollen parent. Raspberry Kiss can get REALLY massive, so keep that in mind. It is by no means a small rose, even though the individual traits are probably miniflora. It starts off small though, but dont let that persuade you.

Rugosas have so many hurdles to get through when using non-rugosas that sometimes its just easier to use a rugosa hybrid. Moore used Rugosa Magnifica, and part of the success in those crosses probably lies with the fact that it was a half-modern tetraploid.

Lotty’s Love is essentially a miniflora shrub rugosa. At least, its claimed to have minis in it. I transplanted it to the farm so unsure about fertility. It’s a pretty cool rugosa though. Nice, tidy, and not a lethal weapon… unlike the Kordes modern rugosa hybrids lol.

When seeking a rare trait and trying to retain it, sometimes thinking of alternate solutions is the more viable route. So I think its something to consider when dealing with the idea of the persica trait onto the rugosa archetype.

Thank you so much for this information!
I will look into Lotty’s Love, although this one seems very hard to find in Europe.
I understand what you are saying about alternative solutions. I guess I have a lot more researching to do about potential parents that might play well together to get to the result I am dreaming of.
I am so grateful for all the insight I am getting on this topic here, it is really appreciated.

On another note, I read a comment by Michael Garhart onthe HMF discussion page about Nigel Hawthorne, saying it does set some tiny hips, which he imagines may have seeds in a hot and dry climate.

On the off chance that my hot and rainless climate might be conducive to seeds, I am placing an order for Nigel Hawthorne and will receive it in the fall. Even if it turns out that NH’s sterility is really complete, it’s a lovely rose that I would be happy to grow.

That is me lol.

I watched it bloom, set hips, and then watch them fall off every year for nearly a decade every June at Heirloom Roses when it used to be a half-park type setting. Heirloom Roses is set next to a massive river in a valley system about an hour south of where our temperate rainforest system ends. It is possible they may set on their own in a climate more similar to where Rosa persica is native. On the other hand, it may be more sterile than rubbing alcohol on the sun… :]

In Europe, there is access to the Roadrunner series, which are quite dwarf. That is helpful. There is probably access to various triploid/tetraploid rugosas I am less familiar with due to cultural market differences. Unfortunately, there is less information as to the background of most of the persica hybrids there, so it would be more difficult to plan before leaping in. This is unfortunate since many rugosas take longer to see any bloom at all.

Hi @pacificjade,
Thanks for your replies! I tried to answer yesterday but I must have messed up because it didn’t post.
Haha I didn’t realize that was you on HMF!
I will try the Roadrunners, you are right that they are quite readily available here in Europe. Based on HMF description, the Purple one seems like the most disease resistant and also has strong fragrance, so I might try that one to experiment with soon.
Regarding Nigel Hawthorne, I placed an order for him but he won’t be available until the fall, so I won’t be able to tell if he has any chance of showing any fertility down here for a while! I also ordered Souvenir de Trélazé from the same place, not so much to try hybridizing with but just because it’s such an unusual beauty!
Another one I might try is Tantau’s Strandperle Nordeney, she maxes out at 1m and sets hips. I love her purple stamens!
I wil keep looking into the Hulthemia hybrids. Hopefully I’ll be able to find one that might work. Even at this very early stage of the process, hunting around for potential parents is fun!
I am learning so much about roses through this, thank you for sharing your insight!

I’ve recently bought Strandperle Norderney. Nice blooms, but as many other Rugosa hybrids they fall apart quickly (about 2 days in summer over here, may last even less in Malta). It reblooms continuously, so it was not a huge problem for me.
It didn’t set any OP hip for me last year, but I kept it in a small 6l pot, so it may be due to this (Tantau makes a huge part of this variety’s marketing out of its hips so it should improve).
I don’t think it is pure rugosa, but I have no idea about what else could be in it. Its blooms remind me of the spinosissima Doorenbos selection, but I don’t think they’re related, we should notice more spinosissima influence.
It was not 100% blackspot free, but it may be due to the fact that I grew it in a small pot (and in your climate if probably isn’t much of a problem).
Like many rugosas it releases its pollen before opening the flower, so you should emasculate it early (or rather use it for pollen, which is abundant)

Purple stamens are a nice addition, in my opinion

I’m not sure it will be the easiest way to mix Rugosa and Hulthemias, but you never know. It is a nice shrub on its own, so it may be worthy to grow it even without hybridizing with it

Thanks so much for your detailed review of Strandperle Nordeney!
It sounds like a rose I should try. She will be on my list for the fall!

I see many comments about rugosas releasing pollen very early. Does this mean that, without human assistance, rugosas tend to self-pollinate even if surrounded by other roses?
Everything is blooming in my garden right now and I was kind of hoping to let the bees etc do some random pollination of my rugosas for the first flush this year, so I haven’t been deadheading them. But if they’re all going to be selfies I might cut them off anyway.

It’s hard to say. With the amount of hybridity in rugosa (every other one seems to be a cross with one species or another or they are so old no one really knows, add in some mystery history of gardens in japan, seed sent to russia, etc) there just isn’t a “one size fits all” and climate may play a part (heat tends to weaken a lot of self incompatibility). Many of them seem to be preferential outcrossers but there’s often some that seem like selfing’s.

I prefer the thicker shiny foliage (like Fru Dagmar Hastrup) from rugosa but often OP seedlings don’t have it (kind of dull, thin and slightly fuzzy which suggests an outcross, unless there’s whole lot of unexpected recessives) unless they’ve crossed with some wichuriana derivative and then the foliage is often very obvious wich influenced (another obvious one is when the bee’s have brought bracteata pollen…the foliage leans bracteata in shape but slightly rugose in texture, that and the thorns).

I personally would keep them, I don’t have an issue with OP, just keep in mind how slow they’ll be to bloom (ie space) unless you’ve really restricted the roses you have around to being only things you’d be ok with crossing (ie maybe no point if you’re aiming for eyed rugosas and most of the things you have around are not eyed)

Yeah, that’s me on HMF. I try to limit where I use my actual name online.

Rheinpark is evidently seed fertile. Crossing it with one of those persica hybrids with amazing resistances from the UK, then backcrossing it to a Roadrunner type could be an avenue for a more modern rugosa-persica type.