Seedling roses and fertility

Are there fertlity problems with seedlings or younger roses? I’m just getting started with my breeding program and all of my roses are young. I thought that I read here someplace that 1st and 2nd year plants may produce hips but the seeds will not be fertile. I ran a search and didn’t come up with anything specific. I guess the same question would apply to pollen.

My plants are still dormant, but when spring finally arrives I don’t want to miss any opportunities.


Hi, what part of Oregon are ya from? there are a few others of us here in Oregon, too.

they say that fertility is an issue with 1rst year roses, but I try sometimes if I feel it is worth it to see if it is seed fertile or not simply because a year in rose breeding can feel like a missed opportunity. so, giving it a dry run can give you an idea of whether or not to use it as a seed or pollen parent the following year.

Hi Jeff,

One of my favorite sayings: Give em the opportunity to say no. If you try and it doesn’t work…you tried. How many roses are you planning on crossing? I live near Eureka, about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. Last year was a bumper crop for me, about 85 seedlings (all Hybrid Teas) and its so fun hybridizing. You never know what might pop up. This site is amazing for getting your questions answered. Good Luck.


“The mini’s don’t really fit the long term goal, but I sure like them. I’ll probably do some crosses of those as well.”

Don’t be too quick to assume Miniatures are going to be of no use to you in breeding. Some of my crosses with Miniatures have given me some of the most useful “stepping stones” to a new line of breeding that would not have otherwise been possible. They often bring valuable traits to a breeding line, including floriferousness, vigor and compact shrub form. You may want to keep that in mind.

I have found some varieties are neither seed nor pollen fertile until they are two to three years old. For me, ‘Sequoia Ruby’ was one such plant. Given to me by Ralph Moore and encouraged to use it in breeding, I tried to work it in year two and year three and it was only in year three that it began setting seeds that germinated. Now, at year 7 it is a heavy seed producer and the seeds germinate very quickly and at about a 90% success rate.



There has indeed been some discussion of seedling fertility on this forum over the years. I can

After reading the answers to my question, I got myself in a little trouble. I bought my wife a couple of Pearl Kordana (HMF link below) and she caught me standing over them with a pair of scissors. I WAS getting ready to cut off a couple of blooms for the pollen. I was planning on freezing it, but I think that will have to wait for now.


Its sad when Valentines Day reminds you of new sources for pollen… lol.


I love it!

I think ‘Henri Martin’ should be pretty fertile for you. It’s such a beautiful rose here. Mine has set a load of OP hips this year (it’s first year in teh ground) so next year I’m going to try and have a think of how I might be able to use it… not sure yet… I have to read Paul’s website info again on using Moss with miniatures and try and get my head around it. I like to buy a new rose and leave it in the garden for a season or two before using it so I see whether it sets any OP hips.

Jeff, one of the first roses that I used when I began this hobby was 'Rise ‘n Shine’. I had heard that it was very fertile. I tried for two years and couldn’t get any crosses to take. When I gave up on it, I didn’t carefully prune it like I had done in years past. That next year I think every bloom produced an “OP” hip. That taught me that in addition to the age of the seedling, that larger unpruned or lightly pruned roses seems to set hips more readily.

It is also true though that I regularly have brand new seedlings setting hips in their first year. Some prove to have good germination, while others may produce lots of seeds, but don’t germinate well. However, one of my best germinators produced very few hips in the first year. Now it produces hips with nearly every cross. With three plants of it last year, I produced more than 5,000 seeds from it.

I would echo what others have said - don’t waste time this year by not trying.

Best wishes!

Jim Sproul

I echo Jim’s comment about lightly pruned plants being better seed setters. Ralph Moore told me this years ago and I did some experiments that confirmed this. So, now my greenhouse seed setters are pruned quite lightly with less regard for plant shape and performance and more emphasis on allowing the plant to grow as it wishes. Basically I just cut back the previous year’s growth by 20% or so.

“Very few roses seem to have ZERO fertility, but only a few are worth making every effort.”

Quite right!


Paul, I

I agree they also set seed better if you keep them hungry.

I used to shake my head when rose societies members would visit my garden and note that most things are un-pruned and look like they need fertilizer.

Of course rose society members think they know everything, especially new ones. Apparently they think I don’t know any better.

I’ve since quit the rose society and now only attempt to educate those that are willing to learn. I garden to please me, not to please others.

Fortunately the roses know exactly where I’m coming from.

Then someone actually tested the method and found that the precipitation of the DNA is essentially complete instantly at room temperature.

What a great story. Having spent a career in R&D I can attest that scientists are loath to question their base assumptions. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re too ignorant to know it can’t be done.

“I used to shake my head when rose societies members would visit my garden and note that most things are un-pruned and look like they need fertilizer.”


I had one local “expert” tell me to prune my roses back pretty hard. He even pruned one for me to show me what he meant. I hope they recover enough for some spring time pollinating.

Several years ago had a renter that was also a rose lover. He said he like the “wild look” and never pruned his roses. During the summer his roses were covered with blooms and come fall there were enough large fat hips to feed half the deer in Oregon. I should have followed his lead on pruning.

I’m quickly finding that hybridizing has a pretty steep learning curve if it is to be done correctly.

I’m sorry to hear you were victimized by your local rose expert Jeff. There are many of them and they seemingly mean well even if they don’t know very much, at least about hybridizing. Yes, there is a steep learning curve.

I used to volunteer locally but I’ve since resigned “Consulting Rosarian” status.